Lord Peter Wimsey: Five Red Herrings (1976)
Review by HTQ4

Directed by Robert Tronson
Written by Anthony Steven, based on a novel by Dorothy L. Sayers
Starring Ian Carmichael, Glyn Houston, Ian Ireland, Russell Hunter, Michael Stroud


Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent It.

Lord Peter Wimsey (Carmichael) is going on holiday to Scotland with his man Bunter (Houston) where he hopes to take in some nice, relaxing fishing. However, his plans go awry when a Scotsman with a bad temper named Campbell (Ireland) turns up dead. At first it seems to be a simple accident, but one tube of flake white paint causes Lord Wimsey to begin an investigation of the man's murder. It seems everyone in this little village is an artist, but there are five particular artists who have had run-ins with the deceased of late (hence the Five Red Herrings). Over the course of four episodes, we follow Wimsey and the local police through their murder investigation. And (I donít think Iím giving anything away here), Wimsey gets his man. Iím not going to tell you who it is, of course. That would be like reading the last page of the book first.

This series, produced for the BBC, is very well written, directed, and performed. It is a classic whodunit and I quickly found myself wrapped up in the story. Carmichaelís Wimsey is very thoroughly created and masterfully acted. He is fun-loving and charming; everything you could hope for in a circa 1920s detective novel hero. Houstonís Bunter is the epitome of the faithful servant in every way, and we see their mutual respect for one another in every moment they share together. The supporting cast is wonderful. All in all, this is a series not to be missed--and this is coming from someone who doesn't care for miniseries.

The DVD, however, is another matter entirely. The interview with Carmichael is really interesting, telling the story of how the Wimsey series almost never came to fruition because of the lack of risk capital on the part of the BBC. I was sad to see that it only lasts about 15-20 minutes. I found myself wanting to see more. The trivia game is fun, but there are only 10 questions, and the questions arenít that challenging. If you miss any of the questions, itís a safe bet that youíll miss major plot points in the story as well. The biography is just that: about 4 pages of text describing the life of the author. It is interesting, but thereís just not much to it.

All in all, I would say rent it. But seeing this Wimsey story made me want to seek out the others on DVD as well as finding copies of the novels to read.

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