Life is full of mysteries. It’s chock full of them, in fact. Everyday, the human race encounters puzzles, enigmas, and riddles galore — which we are usually unable to cope with. The vaults of Acorn Media are also full of mysteries (albeit ones from British television). The only difference is that they’ve decided to do something about it. Take, for example, the new box sets of both The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries and The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Collection, two repackaged sets of British television dramas.
The first set, The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, is a three-disc set based on the works of Dorothy L. Sayers. Starring the great Ian Carmichael, the collection of early ’70s whodunits bring us the often hilarious exploits of nobleman and amateur sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. Although his aristocratic upbringings would automatically cause most people to classify him in the “snob” category (and, after meeting his family in “Clouds Of Witness,” the five-part episode that opens this two-episode set, one might even suspect the Wimsey family tree of being partially inbred due to their peculiar mannerisms), Lord Wimsey is not your average peer of the realm: there’s nothing he loves more than a good mystery.
Well, actually, a better way to phrase that would be: “there’s nothing he loves more than diving headfirst into a good mystery and then throwing all caution to the wind in order to solve it with the valuable aid of his faithful and well-read manservant (all good sleuths need one, you know) Bunter (played to the hilt by Glyn Houston).” A bit of a mouthful, I admit, but it’s a decent way of describing the fun that classic and modern detective story lovers will have watching these classics.
And then, there’s The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Collection. Normally, I’m a sucker for these sort of things. But, in the case of The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Collection (based on the works of author Ruth Rendell), I’m afraid it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While the dramatic and technical aspects are as pleasing to see as they were with the previous entry, I found the writing in what was previously issued as Set 1 to be mediocre at best. Early appearances by now-familiar faces such as Colin Firth, James D’Arcy, and Amanda Redman don’t add a lot of weight to the initial episodes in this 11-disc set (which contains 17 feature-length mysteries).