BBC One

Inspector George Gently – Gently Liberated

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Season 8 Episode 1

Rating: 5/5

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For those who have read my previous review of Inspector George Gently, you would be aware of how much I love this show. The magnificent 1960s setting, old school policing (No technology or high tech forensics) and highly dynamic and flawed characters made this show one of its kind. There are no heavy action sequences or car chases. The investigation is simple and mind kindling. I never really had the hope that the series would come back after Season 7 ended. But here it is, at last, for its final season.

If you want to watch an honest and self-righteous cop, George Gently is the one. He is a moral cop with a terrific understanding of the police system and how the society and its people change according to the times. A war veteran and in the brink of retirement, Gently is about to complete his circle. Having lost his wife, and having no one else to consider as family, he in a way decided to mentor his Sergeant, John Bachchus into a better cop and a person. But the difference of perception and the unavoidable generation gap between Gently and Bachchus was and is the core of the show. Their arguments are a treat especially when Gently wins it. Just having both of them back on screen is such a pleasure. Apart from these two central characters, the specialty of the show is its focus on a lot of the social issues that prevailed in those times. The first episode of this season focused on violence against women.

The episode, set in 1970 now, rightly begins with the uncertainty over Gently’s career. It is time for him to hang his boots- a thought running in his mind too. Looking at Gently in this episode, I could see him ready to end his professional journey. He still wants to fight for justice and serve his city and country, but there is fatigue etched in him. I couldn’t stop wondering what happened to Gently suffering from MS track last season? He is cured now is it? Anyway- John is John and it is so good to see Rachel still present in the team. The case. A body is found in a hazardous dump and is identified as Alister Liddle who was killed by his wife in 1962, whose body was never found. The wife, Eve Liddle was convicted for the murder and was imprisoned.  John was part of the case in 1962 and Gently immediately senses nervousness in John. We know how John was when the show began- ready to tamper evidence to close the cases, forcing false statements from witnesses- anything for victory. After reading the reports, it is inevitable that the case was conveniently closed after getting a confession, a forced confession off Eve and the evidences were never substantiated. Gently reopens the case and along with Rachel’s support finds the loopholes and digs up what actually happened. The downside- his relationship with John is tested. From here on, sensitive issues on domestic abuse, rape and abortion are involved and the writers treat it with high sensitivity.

Women weren’t trusted back then (and perhaps even now). If they encounter domestic abuse and violence of any sort, no one believed them. Hence, they never voiced it out. They were scared for their lives and their societal reputation. They didn’t want to harm their kids’ lives and endured all the pain silently. The character of Eve Liddle is written magnificently here. She portrays the sad state of the women back then so beautifully. The actor playing the role is fantastic. It’s sometimes difficult to understand why she and others like her put up with it, but it’s not that difficult to understand either, is it? Eve and her daughter uniting at the end was really emotional. I was also glad that they didn’t make it the clichéd story of Eve taking the blame of murder to save her daughter.

Two other storylines were super impressive in this episode. Rachel and Gently’s relationship. I have always admired Gently for believing women could be police too and bringing in Rachel and supporting her to become a detective. Rachel faces workplace harassment from a top officer which she handles with firmness yet with embarrassment and fear. It was wonderful to see Rachel standing up for Gently and declaring how he is a mentor and a father figure to her. Rachel is a very strong and evolving character. I have always loved her from the time she entered the show, probably in Season 6. I wish we could have seen more of her.

Gently and John! When these two are on the screen, there are fireworks for sure. Gently always tried hard not to push the line when it comes to John’s personal life. He knows John lives away from his daughter. He could see that John is a mess- drinking and being imperfect in his work. When he questions John’s motives behind the case after finding out that it was John who forced Eve to confess, we see a huge argument breaking between them. It’s sad to see them fall out. John has worked under the pressure of Gently, to become someone like him. He just couldn’t. It’s never easy for Gently when words on his wife is brought up. John’s way of work is different. He fights for justice too but is impatient for results. He is ambitious with an unclear mind. Gently had seen potential in John and made him his reason to stay back in the police force after his wife’s death. John takes liberty to hit at Gently but understands Gently’s intentions at the end. But him being unaware that Gently is leaving the force, retiring, is the catch here. What would be his reaction? Waiting eagerly to watch that. How much ever John detest Gently now, Gently has been an integral part of his life for the last 6 years (Just 6 years?!).  They have grown close to each other without their knowledge. I love their bonding and friendship- one of the strong points of the show- the strong point of the show.

I am sad that the show is ending, but I also feel it’s the right time. For one, the lead actor Martin Shaw has aged well beyond the normal police. He is in his 70s now and his age is visible onscreen, none his fault though. It doesn’t matter as I absolutely love his acting. Hence, I am waiting to see him in a different character now.

No idea when the last episode of the show is airing. This series will always be remembered for its amazing writing, brilliant acting and its marvelous locations. Huge thanks for the team behind this show for entertaining the viewers for nearly a decade.

Don’t miss it!

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The Missing (Season 2) [Review]

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Rating: 5/5

THIS IS THE BEST SHOW EVER!

I can’t remember how many times I exclaimed the above line while watching this show. Seriously! The Missing, especially this season, is one of the best written and brilliantly executed shows in recent times. There were literal “edge of the seat” shocking moments sending down a shivering thrill down the spine. It’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen. The term “thriller” suits aptly for this show.  This show is driven purely by its script and screenplay and ably supported by an extremely talented cast. Every episode is a surprise. At the end of every episode, after recovering from the shocking cliffhangers, I put my mind at work trying to theorise my way out of this magnificently tangled plot. But the next episode insensitively squashes all my theories with new clues, new characters and unexpected turning points. I know all these might sound very exaggerating, but believe me, this show is a MUST WATCH.

First, a little on the “The Missing” series. Every season is stand alone. 8 episodes. In the last season, we saw little Oliver Hughes disappearing and his parents along with French detective Julian Baptiste trying to find out the truth. This season, we have Alice Webster who disappears in 2003 to return in 2014. Where did she go? Who abducted her? The signature of this show is the timelines. There is usually two timelines. One when the kidnapping happens and one is the present. The show slowly brings these two timelines to meet. This season dealt with three timelines but showcased such efficiency in not getting things messed up. Clues are left here and there, pieces are scattered deliberately only to be put together at the end.

This season takes place in Germany. Sam Webster works for the British army in Germany. His daughter Alice Webster goes missing in 2003. His family is shattered but through years they learn to lead their lives. In 2014, their daughter returns leaving them all shocked but very happy. But Gemma, Alice’s mother, is sceptical as she finds her daughter very different. At the same time of her daughter’s disappearance, another girl by the name of Sophie Giroux went missing too. Alice claims both were held captive together. Julian Baptiste, who headed the Sophie case, enters the scene and analysis the entire situation. He deduces immediately. Alice Webster, who has returned to her family…she isn’t Alice Webster!!!!

There are so many turning points like the above leaving our heads spinning. The garrison where Sam works, his seniors are somehow involved, but how? The rest of the story is Baptiste’s journey towards truth as he fights his own health demons. The timelines are cleverly differentiated by the characters’ looks. For example: Sam has burns on his face in the present, Gemma’s hair is shorter in the past, Eve (army officer) is pregnant in the past, etc. Hence, there is no room for confusion.

The cinematography is fantastic. The weathers are portrayed nicely. Background score is excellent. The cast is extraordinary. My pick would be Tcheky Karyo (Baptiste), David Morrissey (Sam Webster) and Abigail Hardingham (Alice?). The rest of the cast is equally good too, but these three are my pick.

But the star of this show, without doubt, is the script. It’s air tight. The writers know where they have left a loose end and tied them up so perfectly at the end. When the pieces fit together, it’s an overwhelming feeling of victory.

The Missing is a show you shouldn’t miss. It has every element for a perfect thriller. Watch it! Watch it! Watch it!

One of Us (2016)

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Rating: 2.5

Number of episodes: 4

One of Us is a British crime miniseries aired in BBC One. The story revolves around two neighbour families, – Elliots and Douglas. Adam Elliot and Grace Douglas, childhood sweethearts, get married and return from their honeymoon to be found murdered in their house with the schizophrenic murderer then making his way towards the houses of the families.

The story takes place in a remote village which adds so much beauty and serene to the show. Not surprising, the overcast weather throughout sets the gloomy mood needed while viewing this story. I am so neutral about reviewing this show. On one hand, I actually didn’t find anything astonishing or thrilling, at the same time, I never felt like giving up half way through too. I wanted to reach the end which could only mean that the writers succeeded in creating the suspense and anticipation required for a crime thriller.

Going back to the story, Lee Welsh, the murderer, on his way to the house of the families meets with an accident directly landing himself in the Elliots’ field. Rob Elliot, Adam’s brother, gets to know that Welsh is responsible for the murder of his brother and pregnant sister in law and violently attacks him. The families restrain him and later sit down to decide what to do with the hurt and unconscious Welsh. With the night being a stormy one, they decide to keep Welsh in the barn for the police to arrive the next morning. The next morning, Claire (Adam’s sister) finds Welsh dead, his throat cut. One of the family members had killed the guy, but who?

One of Us is not the usual crime thriller. Yes, it is about finding the murderer of the murderer (Welsh), but it’s more about the families trying to cover up what they had done. We do have the police who are doing their job, but that’s not the focus of the story. The focus is more on the dysfunctional families and their relationships. Claire takes lead to find out the truth. She understands that the truth lies beyond what everyone could see. Every character is written with care to be completely different from each other. In this way, the family seems scattered, forced to be scattered. Bill Douglas, Grace’s father, is a calm and devout man, who is probably the only sensible man in the two families to think straight. Jamie, Grace’s younger brother, is kind of creepy. The rest of the characters don’t really have much to do. There is not much energy from the characters/actors either. Juliet and Andrew are the police officers assigned to investigate the case, but they don’t really get any significance. There is a parallel storyline for Juliet involving drugs, but it just seemed so unnecessary.

Being just a 4 part series, there is not much time to delve deep into the characters and their lives. After watching the first two episodes, I wasn’t able to figure out if the show was gripping enough. But I wanted to watch the next episode. Good suspense was created with Adam’s phone records but with a few loopholes. There are parallel storylines for nearly all the characters which don’t have much bearing to the actual story. Rob and his wife has some back story. Adam’s father is introduced and later killed. Bill and his friend has a blackmail story. All these tracks fetched a lot of time which could have been put to better use. The ending was definitely a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, the writers did manage to end the show well, but the motive behind the murder is too clichéd. I expected it to be something out of the ordinary. I was shocked at the revelation of the murderer, couldn’t believe for some time, but at the end I had no choice.

One of Us is different. It has good cinematography and background score. Suspense is fair enough. The characters hold certain mystery too. The actors aren’t great, but do their parts fine. John Lynch playing Bill Douglas stood out. With just 4 episodes, it can be a quick watch.