TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 May 2014
GEORGE GENTLY is a British television series that debuted in 2007 on the BBC. The crime/drama/British mystery production has aired on PBS stations in the United States. Series 6 is now released. The show centers on Chief Inspector George Gently, one of the few good men at Scotland Yard, and an old school copper. On the eve of his retirement, the world-weary cop decides to pursue one final murder case, suspecting that it was done by a gangster who's already gotten away with the murder of Gently's own wife. So, as played by the sixty-something Tony® nominated Martin Shaw, Gently relocates to Northumberland, in the North East of England, tucked in just below Hadrian’s Wall, a relic of the Roman occupation of Britain a millennium or so ago. Gently takes on a headstrong sidekick (Lee Ingleby,); starts solving murders in a time of profound change: the 1960s. The series is based on Alan Hunter's novels.
The 6th series consists of four powerful feature length episodes, one to a disk. It opens as Gently,(Martin Shaw, THE PROFESSIONALS, JUDGE JOHN DEED, THE CHIEF, DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS) and his ambitious undisciplined Sergeant John Bacchus ( Lee Ingleby, THE STREET, PLACE OF EXECUTION), who married his boss’s daughter, return to the job. They were gravely injured in the line of duty six months earlier. Both officers appear to be on the mend, at least physically. But, while Gently is determined to put the horror behind him, Bacchus is not, and has shocked his boss by submitting a letter of resignation. The episodes, to quote RLJ/Acorn, are:
Episode 1: Gently between the Lines
Gently investigates a death in police custody—and insists that Bacchus assist him, even though his sergeant has just submitted his formal resignation. In the process, the inspector has to tread a careful path between fellow officers who are closing ranks in support of each other and a local population grown increasingly hostile towards the police.
Episode 2: Blue for Bluebird
The body of a young woman washed up on the beach turns the attentions of Gently and Bacchus to the nearby holiday camp where she worked. The once-thriving business is clearly in trouble, with fewer and fewer families visiting each summer. The detectives discover the lengths to which some are prepared to go to keep the camp afloat.
Episode 3: Gently with Honour
When a man is beaten to death in a Turkish bath, suspicion falls on an ex-soldier with a history of mental instability. But the mystery deepens when a psychologist who had been treating the suspect hangs himself after leaving money to the soldier in his will. World War II veteran Gently finds himself investigating a murder that makes no sense and a military he no longer understands.
Episode 4: Gently Going Under
The death of a coal miner 800 feet underground presents logistical problems for Gently and Bacchus. More challenging still is figuring out which of the tensions and rivalries raging above the surface—between labor and management, in the local community, and among the members of the dead man's family—is a motive for murder.
Gently sometimes seems a bit of a fish out of water: he seems to spend less time fighting crime in bleak Durham County than battling racism, sexism, corruption and narrow-mindedness, often in the police department. Where, when his colleagues aren't taking “backhanders" (bribes), they can be found harassing or beating up their Arab, black, mentally or physically disabled or Pakistani neighbors. In fact, the negative attitude of the series to police work might make a viewer wonder just why the veteran cop ever joined the service, let alone stayed so long. The viewer must assume it’s his passion for justice.
A distinguished cast gives us uniformly fine acting. Shaw, whom many viewers consider to be the best actor ever to play Adam Dalgleish in the televised versions of P.D. James’ crime novels, has the chops and the gravitas to play Gently, and to carry the show. He and Ingleby play off each other with warmth and humour. Guest stars include Jemma Redgrave (BRAMWELL) and Robert Pugh (GAME OF THRONES). Author Alan Hunter set his work in East Anglia, around Norfolk, where he grew up; however, the television series has been set in a more northerly latitude. The production has been filmed around Durham and in Ireland. The 1960s were, of course, a very eventful era: the tense political climate of the Cold War; then, attitudes and values begin to change as the Swinging Sixties belatedly hit the North East, a process the scripts show in fine detail. The series is shot in high definition; scripts are witty and ingenious, direction is stylish. Rural Britain – or is it Ireland—provides a beautiful backdrop for the action. The series, which has been compared to FOYLES WAR and MIDSOMER MURDERS, offers many excellent reasons to love it, and I do.