I needed a collective noun for a group of mysteries; feel free to suggest others. The following are mostly all enjoyable, except where noted, and predominantly foreign. But BBC has been producing the most interesting mysteries for years now, so that’s not a surprise. As I’ve been losing a lot of time to catching up on these and other shows, thought I’d share an overview while awaiting my next movie (and there should be several over the next few days).
Broadchurch (series 2)
Sadly, this second round lost me in two episodes. To their credit, they continue the story from the first round, but they also add in a court-room procedural that, honestly, didn’t stand muster. I would have been happier with a new mystery and a continuation of the characters. Instead, many folks are stuck with over-acting moments or making stupid choices. Less mystery and more suspense. Felt like they lost their way even with the addition of Rampling (Dexter), Miles (Torchwood), and D’Arcy (Jupiter Ascending).
A couple of priests with a past:
Grantchester: Delightful and moody with a young priest and some reasonable mysteries. Norton in the lead, supported by Green (Being Human), make a good duo and an interesting period piece.
Father Brown: Silly and driven often by class structure issues, Williams (Albert Nobbs) re-boots the delightfully human, and nearly often secular-minded, returned-from-war priest. The mysteries are middling, but the character interplay with his coterie is often a hoot. At 44 min. each, they go down easily. I only discovered these recently, but there are 3 series in the recent reboot to enjoy.
Foyle’s War (series 8)
Series 8 was another intense season delivered by Kitchen and Weeks. And, interestingly (and perhaps inevitably) as was started in the previous series, the stories have continued to shift focus off Foyle. Foyle, by this series is, in fact, more background than front and center. He is integral and present, but the personal part of the story is much more on Weeks in these three tales that continue their post-war, spy-master conversion.
Any long-running series has to evolve to survive, especially if it is more toward the intellectual end of the spectrum. The prolific Anthony Horowitz continues to be the driving force behind the series and has allowed himself to be open to the shifting politics of the eras his characters have lived into. He tracks his plots and relationships into the Cold War without losing sight of where they came from. It allows the stories to have a very particular impact that few others can because they tend to start in that era rather than grow into it. Then again, how many series last long enough to straddle such diverse political winds?
I do have to admit that Foyle’s feels like it is getting ready to either end or hand-off the reigns. I don’t think the latter would work. It would be like trying to do Poirot from a Miss Lemon POV. I’d be saddened to see this iconic show end, but it has had one major resurrection already. I am not averse to change or to seeing what they can produce, but if we are heading to Kitchen’s last performance, I hope it is worthy of the impact he’s had.
Wilson (The Office) has birthed a great anti-hero, that will never last on broadcast television. It is a world populated by extremes, including a great turn by Dekker (Kaboom!) as his gay, sort-of god-son. Twisty mysteries, but not always surprises. It really is more about the characters and they will either intrigue you or simply turn you off. I like the subversive nature of it all, despite the absurd departures from procedure. Not sure even I will last long with it, but since I expect the road to be short, I have saddled up for what is offered.