Monday, August 12, 2013

To See or Not to See: A Mish Mash TV Version

My reading mood is heavily influenced by all kinds of things around me - tv and movies most of all. I find that I've been watching a LOT of British crime dramas of late and it's got me really craving more!

First there was Masterpiece Mystery's Endeavour, a four part prequel to Inspector Morse. As such, the series is set in Endeavour's younger days in the field. I saved up my Masterpiece episodes and treated myself to a binge watch while hubs was out of town for work. I must say, I was looking forward to my evenings with Endeavour! The short series set in the 1960s does a great job of getting the viewer in the right mindset for the setting. (At least for me - someone who definitely wasn't around in the 1950s much less in England.) Shaun Evans does a wonderful job as the budding detective with a past (he was a codebreaker and while it's clear he's something of a genius, only his immediate supervisor DI Fred Thursday (played by Roger Allam) and his friend PC Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) really support him. Anton Lesser plays a maddeningly small minded and political Chief Superintendent Bright.

Endeavour is definitely one I highly recommend. Be warned, though, it'll put you in the mood for more. I've got some Louise Penny lined up in my TBR as a result!

After Endeavour, I know just about everyone was stoked for Broadchurch and I was certainly no exception. We're only one episode in and I really think it's going to be brilliant. (Sadly I hear the US will be remaking the show as well, I'm sure it'll be ruined.)

Broadchurch begins with the death of an eleven-year-old boy in a small beach town. With such a tight-knit community it's easy to see how this is going to play out in terms of tension between neighbors. And there's tension in the ranks as well! DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) returns to work after leave expecting a promised promotion only to discover that it's gone to someone else. An outsider with his own checkered history. DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) is no stranger to the media, though in episode one we know very little about the case that's made him a well known name. His own attempts to win over the respect of his new team of course adds to the drama of the show. There are some wrinkles as well - Miller's son was the dead boy's best friend.

I couldn't wait for the show to air so I went ahead with the early preview episode, which of course meant an even longer break until the second episode comes on this Wednesday.

In the meantime, Sophie Hannah has a new Zailer & Waterhouse mystery out. Kind of Cruel (or any installment in the series) should make for some good Broadchurch - y reading to tide me over!

I also had The Bletchley Circle in this weekend. I'd heard a bit about this one from other folks I follow online but had managed to miss it entirely when it aired on PBS. Fortunately it was released on DVD pretty immediately.

The Bletchley Circle takes place nine years after the War and features a group of women who were former codebreakers. When Susan (played by Anna Maxwell Martin) begins to notice a pattern concerning a number of recent kidnappings and murders, she puts her old skills to use to try and figure out where the killer might strike next. Even knowing about her past, the police take her only marginally seriously. When another woman is killed Susan and her old Bletchley Park companions come together to catch the killer themselves.

Bletchley Circle was great! It's short - just three episodes - but the story is really fantastic and the cast is pretty perfect: in addition to Martin, you have Julie Graham as Jean, Sophie Rundle as Lucy, and Rachel Stirling as Millie.

If Bletchley is appealing and you're looking for something along those lines to read, I have to recommend Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series. It's a bit of a different time period (WWI compared to the post WWII period of Bletchley but I think Bess and the Bletchley girls would get along grandly!).

And to round out my British mystery binge watching week, I decided it was also time to dive into The Fall. The gals over at Read Me Deadly reminded me I'd had that one queued up for some time. The Fall is a five episode series starring Gillian Anderson as a DS Stella Gibson. She's sent to Ireland to help with an investigation and soon links the murder to a previous similar case. Unfortunately, the local cops don't want any rumors of a serial killer running around and Gibson is told to focus on the case in question. Meanwhile, the killer is in fact moving in on a new victim and lining up his next target as well.

The Fall is dark. Really dark. In fact, of all the shows, Endeavour is probably your safest bet if you're looking for something not quite so dark and graphic. I'd put Bletchley next as it does go into a bit more detail than Endeavour. Broadchurch is one I'm expecting to get much darker before we're done there, and The Fall sets the scene for some pretty twisted stuff to come in just the first episode.

For fans of the darker stuff, Elizabeth Haynes's latest, Human Remains, is due out August 20. Per her recommendation, I'm also adding Lisa Cutts's debut, Never Forget, to my must read list.

I definitely recommend each of the shows listed - I'm enjoying them all immensely - but again caution viewers who may be averse to darker shows. Endeavour is pretty safe as is Bletchley for the most part. I'm only one ep into both The Fall and Broadchurch but I do expect them both to be on the darker scale of the spectrum both in terms of subject and graphic violence.

More good news for all you British crime fans - I'm sure you all know that Luther is due back in September on BBCA!!!

(Can we please get Marchlands and Lightfields soon, too?)

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