“One year ago, the MOD test system at Eskmeals confirmed radioactivity of above normal background levels at the Corry Reservoir, Craigmills, Yorkshire. The usual emergency procedurals were activated under NAIR arrangements, and the reservoir was shut down. An independent inquiry was set up under the chairmanship of Dr. Anthony Marsh.”
Edge Of Darkness is something of a classic to the British. It cleaned up in the 1986 BAFTA awards, taking almost every award they have with the possible exception of Best Coffee In Craft Services. The mini-series has apparently stood the test of time, maintaining such high regard for nearly 25 years. So much so that it is the subject of a new Mel Gibson big budget film in America. You can imagine my eagerness when the mini-series was now finally released here in the United States, undoubtedly to capitalize on the release of the Gibson film. But, imagine even further my extreme disappointment to discover that this series is absolutely terrible.
“Suspicion pointed to a secret plutonium source hidden in the Northmoor Nuclear Waste Plant, ten miles from the city. Northmoor’s mines have been used by the British Army since World War II. Recently the mines were sold to a private company, IIF, specializing in the storage of low-grade waste. IIF is owned by Robert Bennett, an entrepreneur with extensive connections in the nuclear industry. It has been rumored that plutonium is illegally stored there. These rumors have always been denied.”
Detective Ronald Craven (Peck) is picking up his 21 year old daughter Emma (Whalley) from classes at college. When they arrive at their front porch steps, a figure emerges from the darkness shouting to the detective and sends two shotgun blasts into the chest of Emma, who appeared to start running toward the assassin. Naturally, Detective Craven begins to investigate the murder. There are several problems presenting themselves, however. The first is that it is not exactly clear which Craven was the intended target. The second problem begins to emerge as he traces his daughter’s final days only to discover she had been leading a dangerous secret life. She was an avowed communist and had joined a radical organization. He finds a box that contains a rather unusual assortment of items for a young college girl, including a gun and a Geiger counter. Another problem emerges when he discovers his daughter’s body was highly radioactive. It’s a good thing he swiped that lock of her hair at the morgue while identifying her body. Much to his shock, he learns that she was an eco-terrorist and might have been involved in a plutonium incident. From here the story goes down so many roads that the whole thing becomes nearly impossible to follow. Finally, Craven hooks up with an American CIA operative, Texan Darius Jedburgh (Baker), who is also trying to track down the secret plutonium and has a dossier on Craven’s daughter. The two become enmeshed in a convoluted plot to control the world. The last two episodes end up in territory so much apart from the original murder mystery that it’s almost as if I was switched over to an entirely different show which happened to have the same cast.
“In the summer of this year, a team of scientists from the ecology group Gaia penetrated the mines. They were organized and led by a local woman, Emma Craven. Since all those connected with this adventure are now dead or disappeared, it is difficult to discover what their mission was, or whether it was successful.”
The show ventures into some bizarre territory. At first Craven hears his dead daughter’s voice telling him how to do basic domestic chores like separating colors from whites in his laundry. Eventually she begins to hang out with him on a regular basis. The troubling aspect is the series doesn’t appear to care if she’s real or not. There are even plenty of references that lead us to believe he had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. At the very least, we’re led to believe he had those kinds of feelings for her. Bob Peck has received a ton of praise for a role I really don’t find dynamic at all. The best performance in the series by a long shot is that of Joe Don Baker playing a role he basically has played 100 times before. But it’s the only life this show ever really has. The plot twists are just as crazy, and the show becomes a runaway train by the end of the first episode, a train headed for a tragic wreck. The only think I can honestly say I enjoyed was the great Eric Clapton guitar work in the score. Unfortunately, as good as that was, it really never fit the mood of the piece. Skip this travesty and wait for the film. It’s just gotta be better than this.
Each episode is presented in its original full frame format. To make matters worse this is a disaster of a transfer. The print is in terrible condition. Scratches and marks abound. The image is dark without the benefit of solid black levels so that everything gets lost in the shadows. Colors are faded. It looks like someone ran an old VHS dub from the television broadcast. Of course, that’s not what happened here, but sad that it might as well have been.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is just as bad as the video. Dialog is often very hard to hear. Everything is soft and too quiet except the Clapton score which is often too loud. I hate films that make me have to hold the remote to constantly adjust the volume. And the worst part is the series isn’t worth the extra effort.
Episode 6 Alternative Closing: (2:25) The only thing changed here are a few nature shots. The ending is not really changed at all.
Magnox – The Secrets Of Edge Of Darkness: (34:54) The writer starts out by admitting he was upset with the Thatcher administration and made it expecting they wouldn’t even air it. It’s self indulgent, and at least he doesn’t try to hide it. It’s a liberal exercise in delusional film making. Wait a minute. Of course it won a ton of awards.
Isolated Music Score and a Photo Gallery close out this two disc mess.
I live on the bank of a lazy Florida river. It is calming at times. There are gators and plenty of wonderful waterfowl to take in. Because there is so little elevation change here, the river tends to move very slowly. In fact, if the wind is strong enough the surface water actually moves in the opposite direction of the current. It’s fascinating, really. If you were to place yourself in a raft upon this river in the hopes of traveling to a specific destination downstream, you will like as not get there. That is, if you’re not in a terrible hurry. The river will flow at its own tedious pace meandering about as if there is all of the time in the world to get to where it is going. Edge Of Darkness is a southern river. There are tributaries aplenty, many terminating in dead ends that really won’t help you to get to where you’re going. You will eventually get to the end, to the point. It won’t take forever, but it will feel like it did. And that spells “trouble in River City”.