Category: British ITV

The Jury (ITV 2002 & 2011)

JuryThere are times that I become so overwhelmed at the absolute greatest of British television, I’m speechless.  No one does it better than the Brits.  I’ve just finished the two seasons of The Jury that first broadcast in 2002 and then again in 2011.  Both series consists of five one-hour episodes.

It begins with ordinary citizens receiving in their mail a summons to jury duty.  A few of the jurors in each case are focused upon as subplots and how the experience affects them.  Of course, the main focus is upon the accused.  The first 2002 series revolves around a Sikh teenager who is accused of murdering a classmate who bullied him.  The second in 2011 focuses on a man accused of brutally murdering three women he met on an internet dating site.

For those of you who love Gerard Butler, you will find him staring as one of the jurors, along with other familiar faces such as Helen McCrory.

The entire series engrosses you into the English jury process.  As the audience, you are given no more information about the guilt or innocence of the individual than what the jurors hear. When they retire to deliberate, no one agrees, of course, initially upon the verdict.  You, on the other hand, can cast your own vote.  In the first series there is still some doubt, but in the second it appears to be overwhelming evidence at the end of the unanimous outcome.

Needless to say, I’m continuing to rave about the excellence in writing, acting, and presentation of some of these fantastic British shows.  This one is currently streaming on BritBox and well worth the ten episodes.

Grantchester (2014-Present ITV)

grantchester24 Kernels

Grantchester – the show with a hot vicar.  Are vicar’s allowed to be hot?  Are they allowed to drink too much, enjoy a good smoke, and love a married woman? Do they have a propensity for solving crime?

Better looking any day than Miss Marple, comes Sidney Chambers, played by the dreamy James Norton.  Probably no one during Season 1 of Grantchester drooled over him as much as they have after War & Peace.  The ladies are clamoring to see more of this handsome Brit with a dreamy voice (if he’s not playing the psychopath in Happy Valley). So flock to Season 2 now on Masterpiece Theater (or Theatre, depending on which side of the pond you come from).

The scene is set in the 1950’s in Cambridgeshire village, which is apparently the era where Midwife, A Place to Call Home, Brooklyn, and a few other shows are reviving the times. James Norton plays the heartbroken man, whose love of his life married someone else. He carries the unrequited love torch throughout the episodes unable to give her up completely. As hard as his friend tries at matchmaking, he just can’t seem to move on.

Of course, Morven Christie as Amanda Kendall doesn’t help matters either. Having married the man her daddy preferred (higher classed gentry), she’s not acting very happy. Nevertheless, even though the lady’s husband just punched Sidney in the nose and told him to stay away from his wife, he doesn’t seem to get the point he’s stepping across boundaries.  Give it a rest Sidney.  Plenty of other women are willing to fall at your feet and wash your clergy robes.

The vicar, of course, has another relationship going on besides his congregation.  He is sleuth friends with Detective Inspector Geordie Keating played by Robson Green. Though he thinks that Sidney should keep his nose out of the business of police work, he ends up tolerating his interference while solving the latest crime.  The Grantchester Mysteries are based on stories written by James Runcie.

Even though the eye candy for the ladies with Mr. Norton exists, I do not find the murder and crime portion of it as engaging as other British television shows. It’s lacking the tension, dark mystery, and danger I prefer. There is always a short sermon in there somewhere for the small congregation of Sidney’s church (no revival going on here), but otherwise, the tales of crime and woe are so-so.  I’ve been spoiled by intense story  lines elsewhere, but I guess in 1950 crime wasn’t as exciting in Britain.

Nevertheless, it fills the void on Sunday nights.  Let’s hope that Sidney falls in love with someone and we get a little heat rather than remorse brewing each episode.  It could liven things up.

Will the vicar eventually fornicate?  Heaven help us. So far he’s good at pushing women up against a brick wall during a passionate kiss.  There may be redemption for this man after all.

P.S. It appears that Grantchester has been renewed for Season 3.

Prime Suspect (1991 – 2006)

4 Kernels

Intense British Drama

British Television (1991 – 2006)

Stars:  Helen Mirren
BAFTA TV Awards & Emmy Awards

British television once again sucks me into its clutches and won’t let me go an entire weekend on Netflix.  I’ve seen so many murder mysteries lately, I’m going to start writing my own one of these days.  Enter Prime Suspect – a British ITV television program that aired intermittently from 1991 – 2006.  It revolves around Jane Tennison, a strong-willed police detective that always gets her man.

Jane is smart as a whip, emotionally cut off in relationships, married to her job, drinks a bit too much, fights against discrimination as a woman in the workforce, and barks orders at men.  Her character is an interesting mix of emotions, and Helen Mirren is an award-winning actress who does well in keeping you interested.  Jane will not rest until she solves a case, and has been reprimanded, suspended, taken off the cases, and put back on almost every episode because of her unorthodox tactics that breaks every rule in the book.  Just when you think she’s going to get fired once and for all, she solves the murder and becomes the hero vindicating herself in front of her male counterparts.

The stories in Prime Suspect are very intense.  I’ll admit I was a bit emotionally drained after a few of them, but found myself glued to my green recliner.  The murders deal with real issues in areas that you don’t necessary wish to know about on the dark side of London.  Poverty, pimping, prostitutes, homelessness, transvestites, police corruption, pedophiles, childhood sexual abuse, and war criminals just to name a few topics.  If you’re sensitive, this is not the show for you.  Some episodes are disturbing in content and also visually as you look at the dead victims and become intimately acquainted with how they were murdered.

After saying all that, you probably wonder why I didn’t give it a five kernel rating.  As I stated, I found the show intense, sometimes disturbing, and the episodes a bit overly long.  Some story lines drag into two parts, and it’s just a time-consuming show to watch.  Be forewarned.  Also, as much as I loved Mirren in the role, she did such a great job that by the end, I was getting a little tired of Jane’s character. A few times I wanted to slap her face over her insubordination toward her peers. You’d think after years on the force, she’d learn a little.  Jane Tennison never does, but her salvation is that her character is so tenacious, she gets the murderer one way or the other.

Other than that, it’s a good show, if you like intense drama.  The British get to swear much more on television that our US counterparts, so be prepared for some pretty surprising language.  I really need to stop watching so much murder.  It’s taking it’s toll.  Nevertheless, I love British television because everything they do is top-notch.  They’ve known how to tell compelling stories from Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, and others.  It’s what they’re made of, and I rely much on my English ancestry to place drama in my own work.

The Forsyte Saga (2002-03)

4 Kernels

(2002-03) – Television Series – ITV
 Damian Lewis Actor

Since I’m in the midst of writing my own English saga of sorts, I usually get sucked into these DVD sets for hours on end drowning myself in period English dramas. The Forsyte Saga makes it to the top of my list as an enjoyable treat of English life.

I’m often fascinated over how the rich lived in the Victorian age. My English family made bricks, while families like these lived lives of luxury filled with all sorts of soap opera antics.

The Forsyte Saga is a television adaptation of John Galsworthy three novels, which apparently has been filmed in other adaptations throughout the years. This particular version was done by Granada Television for the ITV network, however, some complained it took too many liberties from the original work.  It was later shown on Masterpiece Theater.

Nevertheless, stories like these are up my alley, even if I haven’t read the original. I will confess at the ending of the entire saga, I felt upset and left hanging, so I downloaded the original work on Kindle to see if it really did end that way.  And yes, to my chagrin, it did.  Frankly, it would be a hell of a story to pick up and write a sequel . . . hum.

Soames, played by Damien Lewis (who by the way just won an Emmy for his portrayal in Homeland in 2012) is the central character of the story and family.  My heart went out to the proper, stout Englishman who adored a woman, wanted to be loved in return, and desired children. His passion, of course, borders on obsession, but you can’t help but feel sorry for the poor guy, who never found a woman to love him in life. Yes, he was a rich snob, but even snobs need love once in a while.

As far as Irene, Soames first wife and obsession, I felt absolutely no sympathy for that woman whatsoever. Perhaps my heart was a cold as the one she portrayed with little remorse over the hurt she caused others in her life. She was an interesting character who grated upon me throughout the series, which good characters are supposed to do!

As far as the remaining hours, they were an interesting treat of English life and the gorgeous dresses and costumes, dysfunctional family members, scandals, and the rest of the lot that makes up a soap opera atmosphere. No matter what English movie I watch, the birds are always chirping in the background as if life just goes merrily along.

The only problem I did have with the saga itself, were the abrupt jumps in time period, i.e. from five years, six years, and twelve, with not one gray hair eventually making it to anyone’s head! They all seemed to be ageless. A little more realism in that arena would have been better. Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable series for you English loving blokes.

%d bloggers like this: