Like all new British period dramas, there’s a lot riding on the inaugural episode of ITV’s Victoria. There’s nothing us Brits like more than cosying up on a Sunday night, sitting comfortably in a designated chair, shushing family members to a once-in-a-blue-moon silence, and allowing the drama to take over, transporting us to a bygone era.
Streaming on my Acorn television subscription on Amazon is The Brief, an ITV television series, consisting of two seasons. Frankly, it’s too bad that The Brief was so brief being only eight episodes because I found it rather engaging. The ratings apparently weren’t up to par on the second season, and the lead role of Henry Farmer, played by Alan Davies, left the show so it didn’t continue.
It’s based on a group of defense barristers, who sometimes end up prosecuting cases against their own co-workers. Linda Bassett plays Maureen Tyler, the head of the legal group. As stated in the Radio Times review, it is an “engaging blend of courtroom drama, suspense, intrigue, and humour” (or humor as us U.S. folks spell it).
Of course, like all other main characters who are either solicitors, barristers, or DCI’s, they are riddled with personal problems or destructive habits. Henry Farmer’s downfall is gambling, and the man has a definite problem. He ends up homeless and bankrupt but manages to keep on his feet by living with others and taking tough cases that pay well. Since I’m not privy how all this works in the barrister world, I’m in the dark on the wheeling and dealing of case loads. He is not, by the way, a Silk, but he is good barrister nevertheless. I rather like Henry Farmer’s character because he is a decent human being in spite of his habitual gambling.
I especially enjoyed each case, and the courtroom antics were actually intriguing rather than yawningly boring. Of course, court process in the United Kingdom is a bit different than in the United States, particularly when it comes to wearing robes, special collars, and the wigs of horsehair that make them look like 18th-century blokes. You must admit the long-time practice makes it look a bit more posh and formal than our United States courtrooms with our attorneys in three-piece suits. If you want to know more about the practice, here is a good link to read. CLICK HERE Then there is the matter of where they sit the accused in a box that looks like a perch from on high to see everyone involved. All the tables in front of the judges are taken up by the barristers.
If you are looking for a short eight 90-minute episode binge watch, this makes a good choice. Oh, and by the way, you can actually understand what everyone is saying since the setting is the posh side of London rather than the back roads of Britain, Ireland, or Scotland.
ITV says it has ordered a third season of “Grantchester,” featuring James Norton as the crime-fighting clergyman Sidney Chambers.
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.