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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Police > British TV > George Gently – Series Two (2009/Acorn DVD Set)

George Gently – Series Two (2009/Acorn DVD Set)

 

Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes:

 

Gently With The Innocents: B

Gently In The Night: C

Gently In The Blood: B+

Gently Through The Mill: C-

 

 

It seems 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.

 

The 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 rock/pop, Mod/Rocker/Carnaby Street fashions, and hair with waves Hiroshige would die for).   The time factor is singularly relevant for the British audience (holiday camps, anyone?).

 

The four 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 unfunny.

 

The 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.

 

The 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.

 

Of course, there are also better.

 

 

For more on the series, try this link to the first season:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/7765/George+Gently+%E2%80%93+Series

 

 

-   Don Wentworth


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