Three elegant murder mysteries adapted from the crime novels of Dorothy L. Sayers which chronicle the relationship of amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane unfolds in a realm of romance and intrigue. Includes t... more »he mysteries: "Strong Poison," "Have His Carcass" and "Gaudy Night."« less
Cindy S. from BEAVERTON, OR Reviewed on 11/5/2010...
I love this particular adaptation of these, three of my favorite of Dorothy Sayer's books. I think Lord Peter is especially well cast, and both he and Harriet are very well played. The scenery is lovely, the period sets are charming, and the production as a whole is pretty wonderful. Enjoy!
Lianne Keary | New Hampshire | 03/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am unbelievably excited that this is finally to be released in DVD, or any format for that matter. This has been and probably always will be my favorite PBS series - my family has worn out two VHS taped-from-TV copies (It will be wonderful to have the picture match the sound again!)The first two stories are reasonably faithful to the books, and although the "Gaudy Night" episodes are sort of a Dorothy Sayers Lite, they do make a good introduction for someone who is not familiar with the books. These episodes introduced me to Dorothy L. Sayers (my favorite author along with Jane Austen) and in that way, have greatly influenced my life.The casting and the acting of these is perfection (thank you Edward Petherbridge, Harriet Walter, and Richard Morant!)- there is no cheekiness that bothers me about the Ian Carmichael versions of some of the other novels.My only complaint is that they couldn't do "Busman's Honeymoon" for this series (someone in Hollywood wouldn't release the copyright - but have they done anything with it??? NO.)HOORAY!!!"
Three To Ponder
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 07/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the boxed set of three of the four mystery novels Dorothy Sayers wrote about her sleuth, Lord Peter Whimsey, and Harriet Vane, the mystery writer who eventually became his wife. These are the DVD's of the BBC productions of "Strong Poison," "Have His Carcase," and "Gaudy Night," starring Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter. Unfortunately, the BBC was unable to obtain permission to produce the final novel, "Busman's Honeymoon," much to our loss.I have already written reviews of the individual performances separately, and will focus here on matters that affect the entire set. For reference, these performances cover the period from Wimsey's successful efforts to free Harriet from suspicions of murdering her lover to Peter's proposal to her at Oxford several years later. Both of the stars of this series do remarkable work. Petherbridge is almost too perfect for the role, and has managed completely to supplant my own imagined version of Lord Peter completely. My only quibble is that he seems more a man in his fifties rather than the forties I thought was Wimsey's age. Since I am in my fifties myself, I found this quite easy to forgive. As for Walter's depiction of Harriet Vane, she really is exactly as she should be. Richard Morant's approach to Bunter, Lord Peter's man, is more problematic, being well acted, but not quite in character. As far as the lesser characters, the casting is, for the most part, impeccable. The few exceptions to this rule are still more than acceptable.What makes the novels unique for their time is that Sayers wrote them are not simply as mystery stories with a romantic aspect. Instead, Harriet Vane is in almost every way Lord Peter's match, a strong, intelligent, and independent woman who balks at marriage first because she does not wish to succumb to gratitude, and latterly because she does not with for her own depth of character to be subsumed under Lord Peter's. This dilemma is used by the author not simply to entertain, but to expand on the role of women in post World War I Britain. And here lies my major complaint about an otherwise delightful set of entertainments.For whatever reason, the director (Christopher Hodson) decided to overemphasize the romance at the cost of other elements. In the case of "Strong Poison" and "Have His Carcase," this sin only extended to the modification of the endings to create a certain romantic suspense. In "Gaudy Night," unfortunately, Hodson made significant changes from the novel, and left out several elements as well. The result of this 'Hollywoodizing' is that the less familiar one is with the novels, the more enjoyable the performances are. If you are a long time Sayers fan, though, you may find yourself slightly dissatisfied. Purist that I am, I have rated the set at four stars rather than the five that it otherwise richly deserves."
Three Cheers for This 3-Disk Set!
A. C. Cushman | South Norwalk, CT USA | 03/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How wonderful that BBC has released this delightful trio on DVD. As a longtime Sayers fan -- and particularly of the Peter/Harriet books -- I dropped everything to absorb this series' first airing in 1987. Edward Petherbridge is so nearly a perfect Peter (just a bit too old; if only they'd shot these 10 years before with him instead of Ian Carmichael, Sayers enthusiasts all over the globe would have rejoiced). Harriet Walter's Harriet Vane is a bit less satisfying -- she gets Harriet's intelligence and wit quite well, but lacks some of the gravitas and intensity that comes across in the book -- as well as the lovely, deep voice that I keep wanting to hear (Emma Thompson comes to mind).But physical quibbles aside, these films do get the developing relationship between Harriet and Peter -- the cautious probing of emotions hampered by nervous reserve on his part and defensiveness on hers.Another strong plus is the casting of the supporting characters in each story. Each is wonderfully realized by the BBC "stable" of fine actors. The settings and period details are also dead on.My only real disappointment in the set is the truncating of "Gaudy Night". Admittedly, this is the most complex of all Sayers' books. The numerous subplots, while perhaps seeming irrelevant to the casual reader, are actually an intricate counterpoint of encounters and relationships, each of which provides a vital piece to one of the two puzzles to be solved in this novel: how Harriet and Peter will resolve their personal dilemma or (much less important) who is sending obscene poison pen letters to the Shrewsbury College community. Unfortunately, the screenplay for this film version of "Gaudy Night" leaves out many of the subplots not relating to the mystery. Without the richness of detail provided by these subplots, we're left with a mildly interesting mystery and a love story that is far shallower than it should have been. I have to agree with the reviewer who called this film "Gaudy Lite."That having been said, I still recommend this set for both longtime Sayers readers and those new to her. If this is your first venture into the lives of Peter and Harriet, enjoy these films and THEN run, don't walk, to acquire/read the books. For those like me who can quote long passages of Sayers books verbatim, I'd say get these anyway. I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy them ... even if you have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks left in "Gaudy Night".I still hope that the BBC -- or someone of similar caliber -- will do another remake of these that remedies the few deficiencies noted above ... and which also includes Busman's Honeymoon!"
Well cast, finely balanced
harpertouch | 05/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Harriet Vane chronicles are perhaps the finest in the Peter Whimsey series, with Gaudy Night its crown jewel. But the strength of the books, their powerful internal characterization, is the very thing that poses difficulties for the screenwriter. I dreamed of a film version, but didn't believe anyone would even attempt it. Yet here it is. BBC the Valiant brought the thing off, and they did it with style. Harriet and Peter are perfectly cast. I was particularly impressed with Harriet in the first 20 minutes of Strong Poison. Without a word of dialogue, she held attention; it's easy to see why Peter fell, and fell hard. (And she does look superb in wine red.) Peter is the wise fool, and looks the part. I'll not give away a single moment, but ration your breath- you'll be needing it. Quiet he is, but he'll steal your soul in a pinch.Oh, and Bunter, my Bunter. He doth make the heart merry. For those of you who worry about losing the complicated themes in Gaudy, do not fear, they are all present, on one level or another, and are worked wonderfully. As it's my favorite book of the trio, I do feel the need to comment on several (excusable) flaws- absences of the likes of St. George, chess set, and dog collar were felt, but necessary to the length of the piece. And important words placed in the mouths of the wrong characters were jarring, but justified in the end. Gaudy's starring theme is integrity. The BBC lets it shine. On the whole, they are well worth the investment. As with the books, you can take them by turns for mystery, philosophy, or romance- or for a tasty blend of the three. As your Whimsey takes you."
The REAL Lord Peter: to a "T"
harpertouch | 05/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Calling all Lord Peter fans, & all those of ripping good film-making, too: AT LAST! We've all only been waiting since 1987 for these three BBC-films to be released in video -THAT's all! Yes, 15 years in the waiting, but looking spanking new & utterly worth the wait. You'll see: the even older Wimsey videos (Ian Carmichael) suffer seriously when compared to these latest three. I enjoyed Ian but was always bothered by the fact that he was too old, too grey & too thick-waisted to really seem anything like Peter. Edward Petherbridge's acting is top-drawer, & sticklers can rejoice that the actor even looks exactly as Sayers described Peter: right down to the long "goosey" nose, the particular look in the eye, the pale golden hair, & "the shoulders tailored to the point of swooning". Petherbridge's talent & informed style bring the very soul of Lord Peter to the screen in all his eccentric complexity: the wit, the fire, the wonderful silliness, the sudden vulnerability, the rapid badinage lacing literary & historical allusions in between forensic observations: zounds! Top that off with the marvelous presence, at last, of Harriet Vane, & you'll be watching all three novels in a row, straight on 'til morning. Further reassurance? 'Gaudy Night' is SUPERB. Very hard to do well (Hollywood would've ruined it), BBC has created a work of perfection. That early feminist island of Oxford's first college for women is so faithfully & delightfully rendered, even the most exacting viewers/readers will thrill. ORDER EARLY: THESE ARE KEEPERS!"