HOME   News   Reviews   Adv Search   Features   My DVD   About   Apps   Stats     Search:
  Directed by
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • 4 Featurette - Various television snippets and interviews
  • Isolated music score - Eric Clapton soundtrack
  • Photo gallery - 60 pics
  • Interviews
  • Awards/Nominations - Footage from the BAFTAs
  • Documentaries - The Secrets of The Edge of Darkness
  • Alternate ending - Alternate Closing Titles

Edge of Darkness

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 314 mins . M15+ . PAL


"This is the doomsday equivalent of Harrod’s!"

Made in 1985, this show received tumultuous applause from viewers caught up in its spellbinding mystery of political power, intrigue, conspiracy and murder. I must admit I knew little of it, having been but 14 when it was released, but upon watching this DVD was soon mired in its dynamic, multi-levelled storyline. It’s basically the story of Inspector Ronnie Craven, a well-respected member of the British police. When his daughter is brutally murdered, he begins an investigation into her death that uncovers a lot more about her, her connections and beliefs and a conspiracy running all the way up to the heights of power.

Troy Kennedy Martin wrote this script after discussions with friends despaired at the fact there was little on television that dealt with the upper echelons of power and the nuclear debate. Believing it would never go to air, Martin put everything into the authenticity of the plot and it was this very attention to detail that secured the sale of the story. With Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ program very much in the news at the time, the nuclear debate was ripe for the picking and the script came along at just the perfect moment. Incredibly and unbelievably popular, the mini-series showcased some of the most dynamic dramatic cast in Britain and is truly quite fascinating viewing. Bob Peck as Craven is remarkably believable in the role of this unusual inspector - a character well ahead of his time compared to some more recent cop shows - Joanne Whalley plays his daughter for the length of the series (although she dies within the opening moments of the first episode). Her appearance in regular discussions with the grieving inspector portray his spiralling sanity as he is both intent on the investigation while becoming more and more detached from life itself. Some clever camera angles and choreography put her in and out of the story within instants and is achieved very effectively, both placing her in the real world, yet allowing us to see what Craven sees. It’s not a new effect, but one that works very well here in this mid ’80s work.

This fascinating series features but six episodes that each hover around 49-55 minutes long. All six appear in this two disc set and run as follows:

  • Episode One: Compassionate Leave - Amidst an electoral fraud investigation, Detective Inspector Ronald Craven begins investigating his daughter’s murder while trying to cope with his loss.
  • Episode Two: Into the Shadows - Uncovering bizarre facts about his daughter’s affiliations with anti-nuclear groups, Craven finds that perhaps he wasn’t the gunman’s target at all, that it may have been his daughter the assassin was after.
  • Episode Three: Burden of Proof - Craven’s investigation continues as witnesses and informants begin to die off. After his daughter’s burial, it seems the killer is now out to silence Craven himself, even as he ties his two investigations together.
  • Episode Four: Breakthrough - Craven’s tenuous grip on reality seems to be slipping, yet he makes a daring raid to gather a three-dimensional map of the old coal mines under Northmoor Power Plant.
  • Episode Five: Northmoor - Heading into the underground nuclear facility, the US knows Craven and US ambassador Darius Jedburgh are going in plotting to kill them on-site.
  • Episode Six: Fusion - Final allegiances are made known, as Craven and Jedburgh return from Northmoor with the final facts and the consequences of their actions.

Although it begins with multiple storylines that may be hard to follow, the story itself is worth hanging in for as the tension slowly builds throughout each episode. There are many twists and turns and smaller stories that branch out, with the whole series being solidly written and genuinely intriguing.


Okay, it’s a TV show made in the ’80s by the BBC. There are then long instances of compression issues and grain, although the quality of the picture isn’t necessarily all that bad. There are film artefacts throughout, although they aren’t anything major or obtrusive. There are some funny instances of camera shakes in the opening titles of each episode, but thankfully these don’t last.

Colour levels are fairly well balanced, although they suffer that British television sort of mildly washed-out appearance. Shadows aren’t consistent in that sometimes the give their details readily, but at other times they don’t. Blacks too chop and change, with them ranging from a very deep blue to a dark grey. Inside the mine is different yet again, as the blacks go mildly green at times and there is little detail (not that it matters too much, being a coal mine, however there are people down there chasing each other and it would have been nice to make them out more).


Again, made for TV we get Dolby Digital stereo, though this is entirely adequate for its purposes. Dialogue is all well spoken in clipped English and there were very few instances in which I didn’t understand something said. Sound effects are all okay as well, although there are the practically mandatory ‘bullets whining off rock’ stock sounds occasionally. For the most part the sound effects are genuine though and recorded at the time of filming.

Music is a big highlight here, although it has its pros and cons. Written and performed by Eric Clapton with Michael Kamen, there are plenty of Clapton’s ethereal guitars which makes the whole thing sound a bit like the early Lethal Weapon movies. However, they do give the feeling of isolation that Craven constantly feels as his world spins slowly away from him. In some ways, the soundtrack reminded me of the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man and its awesome Neil Young guitar soundtrack, though this felt a little more mainstream than that. There are also a spattering of tracks throughout that, as enduring songs, still fit nicely today. Artists include Tom Waits and Willie Nelson, among others.


The multitudinous extras are presented over both discs here, with an isolated music score on both. That's a fairly nice thing if you’re into the music of Eric Clapton, but it's replete with the long gaps between usages as well, so you may not wish to bother. However...

Disc One first has an eight minute television review from an unfamiliar British show entitled 'Did You See...?' This takes the form of a panel review with varying interesting takes from the time it was made. There is some horrid aliasing in one dude’s shirt that is almost painful to look at though. There’s also a 6:48 interview with Bob Peck done between original airings of episodes on a show called Breakfast Time. Both of these extras contain spoilers, so please be warned. Watch ‘em after you’ve watched the episodes on disc one.

Next comes a bit from a show called Pebble Time (whatever that means!) which highlights some critics awards the show picked up and runs for 6:04. This also features an interview with producer Michael Wearing and has its merits. Finally, footage from the BAFTA Awards during 1985 when Edge of Darkness scooped up a bunch of gongs. This also features interviews with Bob Peck, Joe Don Baker and visual effects guy Matt Irvine.

Disc Two contains an alternate closing to Episode Six, but the only change is the addition of black screen sooner in the credits! Thanks a lot guys. Real plush extra.

Redemption is found, however, in the next sterling inclusion. A recent documentary that runs for 34:56 and is entitled Magnox – The Secrets of the Edge of Darkness. Presented in 4:3, this features great interviews with writer Troy Kennedy Martin and Michael Wearing (and we learn why this featurette is called ‘Magnox’). It also contains indepth descriptions of the making of the show and technical advisors they used, although some enlarged footage contains some not so good aliasing. However, a real gem contained here is some actual footage of Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ proposal to the public. What an actor.

Lastly, rounding out the two-disc set is a photo gallery with 60 pics from the shoot that aren’t stills, plus some promo shots. So, a hefty collection with salvaged and well researched TV footage from the original release being an exceptional inclusion. Nice work!


While I had some trouble establishing who was who at first, the effort was worth it as the pieces began to fit into place. The tension in this is palpable and grows more frenetic the deeper into the show you get. In fact, I ended up staying awake all night to watch the last three episodes in a row, because I just had to know had it ended.

Whilst some of the clothing dates the show a little, the volume of the story and the weight of its message is just as pertinent today as it was back then. Whilst this is truly a bizarre world in which we live, it is nonetheless amazing the lengths some people will go to believe they control it. This is well documented here and well told, with a quickening pace and reflective excursion into one man’s beliefs and his discovery of self among the ruins of his life.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3125
  • Send to a friend.

    Cast your vote here: You must enable cookies to vote.
      And I quote...
    "Radioactive mid '80s television centred around the nuclear debate, conspiracy and murder. Gripping."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
    • Speakers:
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
      Recent Reviews:
    by Jules Faber

    Narrow Margin
    "Gene Hackman as an action star? It happened… "

    A King in New York: SE
    "Taking a poke at too many demons makes this film a little stilted and not among his best works"

    A Zed and Two Noughts
    "Is it art or is it pornography? Who cares? Both are good."

    Blake's 7 - The Complete Series One
    "Performances are fine, but the flimsy sets, the crappy props and the undisguisable late 70s hairdos are just too much."

    Heavens Above
    "While not amongst some of Sellers’ more confident roles, this one is still up there amidst the more subtle of them…"

      Related Links
      None listed


    Search for Title/Actor/Director:
    Google Web dvd.net.au
       Copyright © DVDnet. All rights reserved. Site Design by RED 5