One show I watched recently was Vera. Just seeing the cover, I know it's got Brenda Blethyn, one of my favorites. You may recognize her as Mrs. Bennett from the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightly, or as the mother from Secrets and Lies, or as the widow in Saving Grace. All three are great SRPS movies. So, already I knew this was going to be a great SRPS television series. Also, interestingly, she was in a movie entitled The Witches with Anjelica Huston.
I was not disappointed one bit. Well, I was disappointed with the fact that there are so few episodes, but as any BBC series fan knows, that's the price we pay for excellent stories.
Based on the heroine of Ann Cleeves series, Vera is like a kind-but-tough country grandma-turned-police detective. Not exactly a Columbo-type, though. She's not exactly self-deprecating. She's tough. She'll yell and put the fear of God into her staff when she needs to. But she's also kind and clearly a caring member of her local community. Or, as Brenda Blethyn says of her character:
"She's kind of like an ordinary person really. If you sat next to her on the bus and struck up a conversation you'd probably be talking about the two-for-one pries down at the Co-op."
Only season 1 is available on Netflix at this time. One of my favorite episodes is about a murder associated with a controversial quarry project. It's not just the story, but the great roles and performances for everyone involved. The characters are well-developed, complex people with mixed desires. I cannot wait to get my hands on season 2. It has immediately been added to my wish list.
Once I was finished with Vera, Netflix suggested Blue Murder. I have to admit I was a teeny bit skeptical after watching the first 10 minutes. The production values are very different, and not only because the show is a few years older. But I was also intrigued by the premise of a single mother trying to handle raising her children, who is also pregnant, serving as a detective.
In season 1, one of my most favorite storyline was between Janine and her neighbor and friend, Leslie. It's just the real-kind of friendship you'd expect between friendly neighbors helping each other out.
While Vera never really delved into Vera's private life, Blue Murder spends a good amount of time showing us Janine's personal struggles and accomplishments as well as her detective work. And I think that's what I like the most about this show. The investigations are exciting, and usually involve some kind of clever twist, but it's nice to see how Janine juggles her personal responsibilities as a single mother, handling issues with her children and her estranged husband, exploring romantic possibilities, and just trying to keep everything together.
While the series ran for five seasons, from 2003 to 2009, Netflix only has seasons 1 and 2. You can be certain I'll be searching out the last three seasons.