Second Sight: The Complete Series (BFS) didn’t launch the career of Clive Owen but it certainly helped establish his credentials as an actor and spread his fame as a rising star. The original two-part 1999 telefilm mystery, written by Paula Milne for British TV, establishes DCI Ross Tanner (Owen), leader of the Special Murder Unit, as intense and driven and brilliant. Unknown to his team, he’s also going blind and desperately trying to conceal it from the world and his coworkers. Claire Skinner is DI Catherine Tully, his new second and a sharp investigator who figures out Tanner’s secret, and forms an uneasy alliance with the boss: she’ll be his eyes, and he’ll see that she gets recognized in the department. Tanner sees his impending blindness as a blow to his abilities and Owen makes him burn with conviction and pride.
His story plays out in three subsequent TV mysteries through 2000, as Tanner becomes increasingly defensive and abrasive while helming high-profile cases and Tully, now his lover as well as his assistant, tiring of being his eyes. Mark Bazeley co-stars as the new man on the squad whose frustrations at being left out of the loop build with each slight. Owen is fearless in the part, a loving but unreliable dad, a brilliant investigator whose increasing isolation alienates his entire unit, and a tormented loner torn up over the inevitable of his career as he can’t even see the faces of his suspects, even as he develops a kind of second sight (which at times hits him like a beanball). Owen isn’t afraid to allow the less attractive features show as he lashes out against his incurable sight and catches others in the crossfire. It came out in what seems like a modern golden age of British mystery TV and it was one of the productions that showed Americans just what we were missing on out network shows: finely honed characters, dark stories and prickly relationships that don’t necessarily get easier with time. The show was released previously in separate volumes. All four telefilms, which showed in the U.S. on the PBS series Mystery!, are now collected in this five-disc set.