Posted: 08/17/2011



by Del Harvey

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On August 30th, Acorn Media is releasing the U.S. debut of Vera, “One of the best mysteries…in the last decade” (The Baltimore Sun). Oscar® nominee Brenda Blethyn (Pride & Prejudice, Secrets & Lies) stars in a new, suspenseful British detective series.

The very talented Brenda Blethyn’s DC Vera Stanhope has been dubbed “the bag-lady detective with a Geordie accent.” The episodes are essentially a series of short films which delve as much into the awkward and complex character of the lead actor as they do the various mysteries. Unlike many female detectives (Rizzoli & Isles come readily to mind) Vera is unglamorous, untidy, and downright salty at times. As a detective, she bears a closer to resemblance to George Gently or Wallander than to any of the standard Brit mystery characters (Inspector Lewis, Midsomer Mysteries). Although plodding and a bit dense at times, Vera eventually gets it right. And this is refreshing as it is much more realistic in perspective and much less an attempt at some forced with and charm.

But for all her gruff exterior and distancing herself from her closest coworkers, Vera is a detective who cares much more than she lets on, and the signs are clear - the job will likely be the death of her. There is an air of mild hysteria that Brenda Blethyn brings to the part, again a refreshing departure for any TV detective, such as when she asks her team, “Do you think I’m mad?” Rhetorical or not, the answer is closer to a positive than probably she would like.

Vera is also on her own with no children, living a quiet and solitary life in the country. We first meet her in the opening episode, Hidden Depths, as she cajoles her deputy, DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon), into casting her father’s ashes into the sea for her. At the launch for this new series, Brenda Blethyn said she didn’t think Vera was lonely, but that she just didn’t mind her own company.

Season 1 includes the following episodes:

Disc 1
Episode 1: Hidden Depths
A handsome young man, a coquettish student teacher, and nothing in common between them—except that both were murdered and left with their bodies meticulously posed. As the killer begins to zero in on a third victim, DCI Stanhope finds suspects and motives mounting.

Disc 2
Episode 2: Telling Tales
Eleven years ago, Jeanie Long was found guilty of murder, despite unwaveringly maintaining her innocence. On the strength of new evidence, DCI Stanhope must put together the pieces of a decade-old murder—and stop a ruthless killer before he or she strikes again.

Disc 3
Episode 3: The Crow Trap
As groundbreaking begins on a rock quarry in the moorlands, a local woman who had opposed the construction is found murdered. She had been pressured to sell her land to the developers but refused. When two other women with connections to the project find their own lives in danger, Vera questions what makes this quarry worth killing for.

Disc 4
Episode 4: Little Lazarus
Generally indifferent towards children, DCI Stanhope finds herself acting as caretaker for a boy whose mother was murdered before his eyes. As she unravels the deadly secrets that led to the woman’s demise, Vera finds a kindred spirit in the boy—and the key to her case lying deep in his disturbed memory.

Releasing from Acorn, you can find out more about this wonderful new mystery series here.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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