A number of new series and shows are on the way or running now. I’ve put together some quick impressions. Some may have longer discussions down the road, but wanted to capture what I could before they slipped my mind.
Vera (series 4)
There is nothing spectacularly new in series 4, other than some cast updates and the paths to get there. It continues to do what it does wonderfully. Either it is the type of mystery series you crave or it bores you. I happen to like the character-driven procedural format. And the acting and writing tend to be very engaging. There was a loose attempt to continue to tie-in Vera’s history, but it was mostly unsatisfied and unsatisfying. Frankly, they could have left it out unless they’re planning on capitalizing on the thread next season.
Whitechapel (series 4)
I came late to this series and, honestly, picked it up without going back to the previous years. Penry-Jones clearly has some kind of history I need to explore at some point. The fact that that history is obvious, but it simply colors the current series and adds to the depth, is a great indicator of the show-runner’s capabilities. The world is engaging regardless of when you enter it, though each series requires you to start at the beginning since they appear to cover individual manhunts.
Peaky Blinders (series 1)
I may never forgive BBC for the now-cancelled Copper and the mind-set that has taken hold. I understand it is a well received and that they need to make money, but the the HBO-ness of it and how it is affecting their other decisions, such as this show, concerns me as the BBC are losing what made them unique.
Peaky Blinders, much like Copper, is violent and full of disreputable and despicable characters. Fortunately, though, it has better plots and more engaging actors for my point of view. Headlined by Murphy (Red Lights, In Time) and Neill (Daybreakers, Alcatraz), we get a wonderful look into the social and political pivot point between the great wars in Birmingham. Whether you can care about any of these folks given their choices and actions… well, that will be up to you.
New Tricks (series 10)
While the mysteries have remained at a fairly consistent quality, this newest run of the series also has some well handled surprises for the audience and the characters. As a whole, the series really is a great deal of fun while still meeting the mystery needs it is structured around.
Amusingly, another Penry-Jones vehicle. Fun, but baffling to anyone not familiar with the justice system in England. You’ll spend as much time wanting to stop and do research as you will enjoying the court and behind-the-scenes battles of wits. A tad on the soap-opera side of drama, but with some good Boston Legal-type days in court.
A modern, and slightly more serious take, on the As Time Goes By plot. However, rather than Dame Judy and Mr. Palmer, we have Derek Jacobi (Vicious) and Anne Reid to root for. For my money and time, the addition of Nicola Walker (Inside Men), is a huge plus as well. It swings between drama and broad comedy, but somehow manages to feel real throughout. Even Lancashire’s (The Paradise) bound-too-tight, independent woman exposes enough vulnerabilities to seem like a person rather than a cliche.