In 1960s Britain, an upstanding detective takes on a dangerous world
Award-winning actor Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed, The Professionals) stars as Commander George Gently—an incorruptible, uncompromising cop transplanted from London’s Scotland Yard to England’s North Country in the mid-1960s. Gently’s reputation for honesty and relentlessness makes him almost as feared among his colleagues as he is among criminals. But he finds an odd ally in John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby, Nicholas Nickleby)—an overeager, opinionated young sergeant who plays fast and loose with police procedures. Together the two tackle cases involving murderers, drug dealers, gun runners, and more.
Based on the long-running series of novels by Alan Hunter, these feature-length modern dramas boast clever writing, stylish direction, and strong casts, including guest stars Richard Armitage (Robin Hood), Phil Davis (Vera Drake), and John Kavanagh (The Tudors). The powerful mysteries unfold against the beautiful backdrop of rural Britain, a region just beginning to feel the rumbles of the era’s social and cultural quakes.
The British love their mystery miniseries, but this new one, George Gently
, has special historical flair for those curious about just how wide the generation gap was in Britain pre-cultural and sexual revolution. Each of Series Ones
three feature-length dramas, based on novels by Alan Hunter, are set in 1964, a year rife with political cover-ups, biker gang conflicts, kids popping "dexies" to fuel all-night dance club parties, and elders, like Commander George Gently (Martin Shaw), scrambling to alleviate the rampant crime situation. In episode one, "Gently Go Man," the Commander is about to retire when his wife is killed, sparking his renewed dedication to catching thugs. Relocating from Londons Scotland Yard to rural Northumberland, where he suspects criminal Joe Webster (Philip Davis) may dwell, Gently teams up with dapper detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby), who admires Gently but more casually approaches infiltrating youth culture for information. The series is propelled by the father-son relationship that builds between the two officers, as they successfully solve the murder of young motorcyclist, Billy Lister (Christian Cooke). Billys gang, including the fiery Lawrence Elton (Shaun Evans) and sensitive Ricky Deeming (Richard Armitage), unravels as sexual tensions between the boys are exposed, pointing to the necessity of an upcoming sexual revolution that theoretically occurred to prevent future tragedies such as those relayed in this story.
The subsequent two episodes, "Bombers Moon" and "The Burning Man," have more political bent, as Gently and Bacchus team up to solve the murder of Wilhelm Schmeikel (Christian Oliver), linked to various underground organizations. Schmeikels children, Gunter (Wolf Kahler) and Trudi (Nathalie Boltt), play key roles in each drama. Once Gentlys Criminal Investigation Department nemesis, Empton (Robert Glenister), is assigned to the case, the mystery increases exponentially as corruption infiltrates the effort. In the harrowing episode, "The Burning Man," Schmiekel is found with a charred stomach full of egg, chips, and an eternity ring with the woman's name, Wanda, carved on it. Turns out Wanda (Pooky Quesnel) is the most multi-dimensional character in Series One, as she reluctantly aids the police with manipulative finesse, maintaining a cloying, sex-crazed persona that spices up these extremely hard-boiled tales. Though Gently is a fabulous character, not to mention a brilliant detective, the crimes he is solving are so complicated that one must pay close attention to avoid being completely left behind. For crime mystery lovers, this will be a plus, while for others, watching George Gently Series One may feel like one is enrolling in detective school, so bring a notepad. --Trinie Dalton
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