Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Grantchester

James Norton as Sidney Chambers.
Premise:  A former World War II soldier, Sidney Chambers (James Norton) is a young vicar in the small town of Grantchester in Cambridgeshire in the early 1950s. In the first episode, he learns that a supposed suicide may have been a murder. He eventually convinces Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) to investigate and they team up to unmask the killer. The jazz-loving vicar and the cynical detective subsequently become friends and work together on other mysteries. Meanwhile, Sidney pines for a young woman named Amanda, whom he loves even though she has agreed to an arranged marriage per her father's wishes. Mrs. Maguire, Sidney's stern housekeeper, looks after him. They are joined by Leonard Finch, a timid curate who would rather read about theology than mingle with the parishioners. The fourth "family" member--much to Mrs. Maguire's dismay--is Dickens, a black Labrador puppy that Amanda gave Sidney.

Running Time: 50 minutes.

Status:  Two seasons were broadcast between 2014 and 2016. They're available on DVD in the U.S. ITV has commissioned a third season.

Production Notes:  Grantchester is a based on a series of books by James Runcie, whose father was a former Archbishop of Canterbury. Runcie has published six Grantchester novels since 2012. The first one, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death contained six stand-alone mysteries. Four of them were adapted for first season episodes of the TV series. Grantchester stars James Norton and Robson Green both had prior experience in British detective shows. The latter starred in Touching Evil, while Norton appeared in Happy Valley and Death Comes to Pemberley (an unofficial sequel to Pride and Prejudice in the form of a mystery).

Our Review: Grantchester is a pleasant--if derivative--series that borrows elements from Father Brown and Endeavor. Its biggest liabilities are the mysteries which often seems like minor subplots that detract from the rest of the happenings (e.g., Sidney's love life, Geordie struggling to cope with his young son's serious illness). In fact, my enjoyment of Grantchester grew after I accepted it as a Call the Midwife-style drama instead of a British detective show. The cast is uniformly fine, with James Norton keeping Sidney from become a lovesick bore. Grantchester also benefits from a rich music score and exquisite country landscapes.

Grade: B.

3 comments:

  1. Grantchester has become a firm favourite in the UK and further afield. Series 2 is darker and Sidney and Geordie's friendship is tested, with a cliffhanger ending to the series. What will happen next? It's an impossible dilemma! The Cristmas special and series 3 are currently filming. The director has tweeted that there are 'unnerving scenes', so hang on to your hats when these episodes are broadcast. I don't know about you, but I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen an announcement yet, but hopefully Season 3 will air on PBS in spring 2017 (as previous seasons did).

      Delete
  2. I don't know about the US, but it is, I believe, due to be broadcast in the UK early 2017.

    ReplyDelete