- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2020

Here’s a look at a couple of episodic television series now on home entertainment formats for fans of psychological thrillers.

Deadwater Fell (RLJ Entertainment, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 191 minutes, not rated, $34.99) — Acorn TV’s psychological crime drama from this year starring former “Doctor Who” time lord David Tennant and current attorney for “The Good Fight” Cush Jumbo arrives on DVD to take home entertainment viewers into a small Scottish village of Kirkdarroch and its dark secrets.

Specifically, tragedy befalls the seemingly happy Kendrick family after a house fire kills the mother and three daughters but spares the father (Mr. Tennant).

Rescued by a neighbor while asleep, Dr. Tom must not only deal with the grief but suspicions from the tightly knit community about what really happened.

Much like his famed role of Det. Inspector Alec Hardy in the British drama “Broadchurch,” Mr. Tennant embraces the character as a multilayered enigma equally loved and hated until he ends up on a short list of suspects in his family’s death.

The true tragedy here is that it’s only four, roughly 50-minute-long episodes in the nearly extinct disc format that can be consumed in one evening and will have viewers crying for more.

Best extras: Fans only get one promotional featurette on the production clocking in slightly more than four minutes long and is not worth watching. Suffice it to report, RLJ Entertainment could have done much better in the supplement department.

Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, 2.00:1 aspect ratio, 484 minutes, rated TV-MA, $29.98) — A psychological horror anthology series paying homage to the Stephen King’s richly creepy literary universe returned for another season on the Hulu streaming service with a focus on one of the author’s most famous characters.

The origin story of the severely mentally disturbed star of the book and movie “Misery,” nurse Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Kaplan), came to light within a 10-episode story arc and is now available on a pair of Blu-ray discs for binge watchers.

Taking place in the small Maine town of Jerusalem’s Lot (i.e. “Salem’s Lot”) next to, of course, the famous small town of Castle Rock (home to the infamous Shawshank prison), the tale finds a bipolar, heavily medicated Miss Wilkes and her daughter Joy stranded after a car crash but being sucked into the dark drama of the towns.

I would have been happy just allowing the story to focus on the complex tragedy of Miss Wilkes and Joy.

However, the creators also felt the need to stuff the plot with not only mischief from a group of pesky resurrected Satanists living in the haunted Marsten House (that’s right, where the “Salem’s Lot” famed vampire Kurt Barlow once lived) but the family squabbles of the Merrill clan, led by Reginald “Pops” Merrill.

We also enjoy the return of a few pivotal character seen in the first season of the show, don’t ask, that satisfyingly ties both “Castle Rock” story arcs together and confirms their true intentions.

Miss Kaplan’s absolutely riveting performance manages to not only capture Kathy Bates’ version of the character from the film but adds layers of nuances to her mental anguish.

She is richly supplemented by Elsie Fisher as the strong-willed Joy, Tim Robbins (originally part of the classic “Shawshank Redemption” movie) as Pops and Paul Sparks as Pop’s nephew Ace.

Slightly in the vein of “American Horror Story,” the second season of “Castle Rock” shines with its own level of terror, especially thanks to Miss Wilkes, but also due to the never-ending Easter eggs added to shows plucked from Mr. King’s rich body of work.

Best extras: The packaging teases with the inclusion of a “fascinating” documentary on the psychology of female serial killers both fictional and real.

Alas, with my teeth bloodily clenched, we only get a 17-minute look at Miss Wilkes with thoughts mainly from Miss Kaplan and executive producer Dustin Thomason.

Warning, do not watch this if you have not seen the entire season.

And, what happened to the documentary?

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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