George Gently – Series Two (2009/Acorn DVD Set)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C- Episodes:
The Innocents: B
The Night: C
The Blood: B+
Through The Mill: C-
everyone needs a hook and this goes double for TV series, especially of the
mystery/detection variety. The BBC One
series George Gently is no
exception. In fact, it has two
hooks. Each of the 4 episodes in this
series revolves around a social hot button issue: child abuse, religious fanaticism,
racism, and secret societies. The second
hook is the show’s setting. Usually,
place is the variant, or character, in a mystery series. This go round it’s time itself.
significant difference in the Gently
series is that it is set back in time, specifically in 1960’s England. This gives a relatively fresh spin to the
writers’ approach, particularly when dealing with controversial situations such
as those touched on in these episodes. There is at once a sense of remove (“oh,
how they behaved back then!”) and nostalgia (an extra large dose of period
Street fashions, and hair with waves Hiroshige
would die for). The time factor is
singularly relevant for the British audience (holiday camps, anyone?).
episodes comprising Series 2 are at
times engaging and often routine.
Casting, however, proves to be the biggest gaff. In order to draw the largest possible
audience, the producers have partnered the contemplating retirement Inspector
George Gently with the very young Detective Sergeant John Bacchus, a common
enough ploy with an eye to a sweeping demographic. However, Bacchus, played by Lee Ingleby,
badly misses the mark. His believability
as a police officer is near nil; he has all the air of authority of shoe
salesman, with considerably less personality.
When he has to get tough, it just rings false. Part of the ongoing character development
portrays Bacchus as a young married philanderer; his behavior seems more like
that of a secondary (high) school student.
And the nod-nod, wink-wink name is, under the circumstances, distinctly
plotting and execution of the 4 shows is fairly workmanlike. There is the usual annoying jingle of a
mystery soundtrack, evoking twitchy flashbacks of many an errant A & E
cozy. The best of this lot is hands down
“Gently in the Blood,” which deals
with the Arab community in a medium sized British seaside town in the 60’s. It
has a realistic flavor, beginning with the prejudice exhibited by Bacchus and
the recounting of a similar incident from Inspector Gently’s own past. Though tangential to the plot, these
incidents serve to set the scene for what was standard behavior in Britain (and America) during that time. The plot revolves round the selling of
expired passports, the murder of a young woman from the passport office, and
her relations with two men, one Arab and one “local boy.” The mystery in this episode is not readily
apparent so I won’t give away the game.
Though a bit of a stretch in the veracity department, bringing racism to
the forefront as makes this episode well worth watching.
“Gently with the Innocents” explores the
subject of child sexual abuse, including its long term personal and social
ramifications. It opens with the murder
of a man selling his house, which had formerly been a children’s home. As with child sexual abuse today, the circle
to investigate is a closed one and it takes some doing to unravel the sordid
plot details. Even at that, as was often
the case historically, what is admitted and what can be proved are a long way
from any satisfactory resolution at the episode’s conclusion. Overall, a decent exploration of a difficult
topic with a very believable ending.
remaining two episodes, “Gently in the
Night” and “Gently through the Mill”
are fairly standard mystery fare, the former dealing with a murder associated
with a Playboy-like club named Rakes and the religious opposition it engenders,
while the later mixes local politics, Freemasonry, and adultery, adding up to
two corpses and a fairly unremarkable conclusion.
George Gently will satisfy your mystery jones,
if you’ve got it and got it good. There
are worse ways to pass your time.
course, there are also better.
on the series, try this link to the first season:
- Don Wentworth