Happy Valley (BBC/Netflix 2015-16)

5 Kernels

Stars:  Sarah Lancashire, Kevin Doyle, James Norton

Happy Valley is anything but happy, even though it won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series on television.

Traumatic occurrences sending people into nervous breakdowns. Dysfunctional families. Suicide. A child the product of rape. Morbid crimes not for the queasy at heart. Psychopaths that send chills down your spine. Intense story lines. Complex characters. Episodes that drive you to drink at the end. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t drink because a few of the characters are recovering alcoholics.

What can I say about this BBC Netflix gripping, intense show? It has given me another case of post-traumatic television disorder after binge watching Season 2. Good gracious! The things that Mr. Moseley and the handsome Pierre from War & Peace do will drive you insane.

First off, let me preface this review by saying, “huh?” If you cannot understand the thick British brogue of the cast, then make sure you put sub-titles on. Otherwise, your ears will be straining to understand what the hell they are talking about and you’ll resort to lip reading. There are a few of those more properly bred Brits who are definitely a more literate in their speech and easily understood.  It’s the local folk up north that will give you a challenge luv.

Secondly, be prepared for an underlying crude story line of a few crazy people.Thirdly, your wonderful Mr. Moseley (Kevin Doyle) from Downton Abbey will do a splendid job of turning into someone you’d never recognize. You might want to put aside the picture of the mild-manner footman, because this character goes off the deep end.

And finally, don’t expect to see handsome Pierre with his brooding puppy-dog eyes in Season 2 of Happy Valley played by James Norton. He does one heck of a job turning himself into someone who will literally send chills down your spine playing the role of Tommy Lee Royce, the psychopath. Powerful performance, to say the least.

So what is this story all about? Well, the main character, of course, is Yorkshire police sergeant Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire (who by the way taught drama at Salford University at one time – go Salford!) She portrays a troubled and intense character who sweeps you into her emotional turmoil that includes not only her job but her personal life.

I don’t know what it is about British shows but their depth, quality and intensity go far beyond the Hollywood-bred crime shows on prime-time television in the United States. Frankly, I think it’s because of the passion of emotions from each character, their struggles, heart-wrenching decisions, and triumphant outcomes that so easily sweep viewers along with them.

So pop the corn, order a pizza, grab your soda, and sit down to binge watch six hours of Season 2. Be forewarned that the last parting scene at the end of this season will leave you with a very haunting “what-if” that will be hard to shake. My mouth is still wide open.  Troubling to say the least.

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