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Springhill: Series One


On DVD: 
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Future Whovian

Russell T. Davies, one of many writers for Springhill, would go on to write for Queer as Folk and Doctor Who.

Considering I'd never seen, or heard of for that matter, the British program Springhill I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  The photo of a quaint family home on the cover made it look like your typical drama or perhaps a family sitcom.  Underneath that picture of a seemingly sweet residence lies a show combining mysterious elements with a classic soap opera.

The Freeman family has a typical life in Liverpool, England.  Wife Liz (Gilly Coman, TV's Bread) and husband Jack (Jonathan Barlow, TV's Making Out) have been married for years and are in the midst of raising five children.  Tragedy strikes the clan when Liz's father passes away unexpectedly.  While the family deals with adversity, strange things begin to happen.  Youngest son John Paul has visions and communications with his deceased grandfather.  Even more worrisome, a mystery woman by the name of Eva Morrigan (Katharine Rogers, TV's London's Burning) appears and begins to strategically invade Liz’s life.  Unknown to the viewer, Liz and Eva have a turbulent past and Eva is eager to gain revenge.
Like most soaps, Springhill reveals a few tidbits of information each episode and then leaves viewers with a tantalizing cliffhanger before the credits roll.  The acting is decent albeit a bit dated, but definitely not as cheesy as modern day American soaps.  Beginning innocently, the show evolves into a rather dark drama with supernatural elements and adult themes.  Watching the program, it was quite surprising the first time witnessing Liz turn from a loving mother into a raving lunatic at a moment’s notice.  Springhill was ahead of its time and must have been a shock to television viewers when it aired in 1996.

This set contains the entire first series – all 26 episodes spanning four discs.  Like most Acorn releases, there are no special features included.  Thankfully subtitles are included and I would suggest using them unless you’re a UK native able to understand some of the slang and quick dialogue between characters.  Although not even 20 years old, the packaging warns that “you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio….that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.”  In layman’s terms, the original transfers were not taken care of.  As a result, Springhill ends up looking much older than it actually is.  Once you get hooked on the story, the quality can be overlooked.  Folks who enjoyed Desperate Housewives will easily get sucked into this supernatural tale of revenge.

Cody Endres
Review by Cody Endres
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