As Summer Wanes, Inspector George Gently Turns Up the Heat!

I am a huge fan of Acorn Television. I put off adding a $4.99 monthly subscription until the end of last school year because I knew it was trouble with a capital T. And it has been serious Trouble, but only the good kind of Trouble.

This summer I’ve watched a bit of Blue Murder which is like comfort food, what I turn to when I’m not sure what I might be in the mood for, because I love the protagonist who is smart, single, mother of four kids, mouthy, totally at ease being in charge, a damn fine detective and hella sexy. Confident-I-know-myself sexy. I-love-this-jumper-even-if-you-don’t sexy. I-solve-crimes-and-go-home-and-love-my-kids sexy. She’s great.

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Blue Murder’s Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis.

One of my all time favorite series is Vera for oh so many reasons, but Rebekah and I plan a podcast for later on, so I’m gonna keep my trap shut on why I want to BE Vera when I grow up, pet, and if I can’t be her than I want to be able to sit down with her and a slug of the good stuff.

The amazing Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope (who I love).
The amazing Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope (who I love).

Most recently I watched Dennis Potter’s Karaoke which is totally worth viewing. Albert Finney plays a delightful writer facing his own mortality and a screenplay that has a life of its own. This four-part series made me think a lot about writing, intertextuality, and  what it means to write your own life. Albert Finney is breathtaking and the dialogue sings raucously. I couldn’t get into the follow-up series Cold Lazarus even though I think Potter was a brilliant writer. If you’re interested, take a gander before September 9th when they flee Acorn.

I have my parents to thank for my rabid love for Inspector George Gently. Gently, played by the stunning Martin Shaw, is a stand up copper who boxes to stay in shape, treats everyone but the dirty copper and unnecessary brute with respect and has a moral compass that points to true. He’s wounded too by the murder of his wife, never solved, his brother’s death (and best friend) during the war but while solitude has been imposed on him, he has used it to know himself well. His partner, John Bacchus (performed with great nuance by Lee Ingleby) leans on Gently and there was a time when he could have crossed the line and become someone Gently scorned. Under Gently’s tutelage he’s become a fine cop, and one Gently not only stands by but helps up the ranks. Gently faces another grave obstacle in season 7, but struggles with characteristic grace in the end, while also navigating 4 murders. It’s a solid season, but season 5 is still my favorite. And yet, I think we’ll have season 8 to look forward too.

Gently operates in a world that’s sometimes hard to take in. While it happens less than 50 years ago, sometimes it’s hard to fathom what was culturally and socially acceptable. Season 7 is concerned with 1969 in Northumberland, and I find myself sometimes wanting to punch Bacchus in the throat in regards to how he addresses Rachel Cole (played convincingly by Lisa McGrillis). The first episode deals with the fact that rape wasn’t investigated in 1969, and at times it’s hard watching Rachel–so thrilled by the progress that has been made in a short decade. I hope they continue into the 1970s so we can see the continued evolution of Gently and Bacchus’ relationship, which is complex and made more so by the inclusion of Rachel in their shared investigations. Rachel’s a character with potential and I’d love to see her fleshed out and brought more fully into the fold.

If you are looking for thought-provoking, beautifully filmed police procedurals that deal with social issues–George Gently is your go to guy. The first 4 seasons are on Netflix instant, but all 7 seasons are on Acorn Television.


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