Prime Suspect 7 - The Final ActWhen the first Prime Suspect hit the British airwaves in 1992 no one could have predicted how popular it would be. 15 years later, with this seventh (and final) installation being released on DVD, the reasons for its devoted fan-base and enduring television presence are still abundantly clear.

After the Oscar win for her critically acclaimed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, Helen Mirren’s name is well-known and respected on both sides of the ocean, making the final release of this acclaimed series even more noticeable than the previous six. To be honest, this reviewer had never heard of her before her Oscar nomination, which seems impossible now. Watching clips from the six previous Prime Suspects in the featurette included in this 2-disc set makes it clear that each episode is worth its salt as well.

As Jane Tennison, Helen Mirren is reserved and intense; a haggard Detective Superintendent falling victim to alcoholism while trying to maintain her career for the last few weeks before retirement. When a teenage girl goes missing, Tennison takes on her challenging final case: finding the missing girl’s killer. As her own father is dying of cancer in a nearby hospital, Tennison struggles with her emotions and her job, forging an unlikely friendship with the missing girl’s best friend, in whom she begins to see traces of her younger self.

The Final Act lives up to the lofty expectations set upon it by the success of the previous six episodes. Playing out more like a three hour movie on two discs, the 180 minute episode is every bit as good as a theatrically released detective mystery would be expected to be. The supporting actors are strong, the story is engaging, and of course Mirren delivers. When she remarks “Don’t call me ma’am. I’m not the bloody Queen.” it’s hard not to find humor in the apparent nod to her Oscar-nominated role. Interestingly enough, it’s a line she spoke in the original Prime Suspect. Quite the coincidence, eh?

Either way, it’s no coincidence that the final episode of Prime Suspect is every bit as pressing and immediate as the original. Serving to wrap up Mirren’s character arc as well as the 15 year run of the show, Prime Suspect 7 is the type of finale that most television shows strive to be. It’s a shame that it has to be the last one, but all good things must come to an end, and for a series over a decade old, this is a classy way to go out.

Zach’s Rating: A
CSI: Miami fan’s Rating: B+
Dancing With the Stars fan’s Rating: C-

To purchase Prime Suspect 7 (out 9/11), visit Amazon

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