I recently had a chance to watch PBS’ Melissa, a 1974 British murder mystery coming to DVD January 15.
The three-episode mystery follows Guy Foster, an unemployed Fleet Street reporter who falls under the suspicion of police when his wife, Melissa, is found strangled in the British countryside.
Fleet Street is very much like Boston’s Washington Street and New York’s Newspaper Row. Fleet Street was home base for the British press until around the 1980s.
Guy’s newspaper went under and the crusading author simply couldn’t find a job that fit. Then a second and third person are murdered and the clues start to mount up against Guy who finds himself in a rather precarious situation. In the background is a shrink who claims to have treated Guy, though Guy vehemently denies it.
Melissa was directed by Peter Moffatt and written by Francis Durbridge.
It takes a bit of patience to get through Melissa, particularly for a younger American audience. It’s two and a half hours long without car chases, explosions or machine guns, so try to open your mind a little. Melissa is a gentlemanly British drama with a well-written plot and excellent acting.
Get past that and Melissa is a wildly entertaining, utterly brilliant murder mystery out of the 1970s — and the scenery is especially interesting, including record players, cars, clothing, home decor, wallpaper and everything else from 30 years ago.
Particularly interesting to me, Guy Foster is a passionate and emotional protagonist who insists on living his own way as a freelance writer and reporter, not wanting to be tied down under someone else’s thumb.
Kinda like some nut-job I know who freelances and runs an online magazine…