Acorn Media // 2011 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 1st, 2011
In 1960s Britain, an upstanding detective takes on a dangerous world.
Don't let the unimposing surname fool you: George Gently is your worst nightmare.
George Gently, BBC's popular mystery series, returns for another go-round of feature-length whodunits, this time scoring a high-end Blu-ray release.
Series 3 continues the adventures of grizzled, no-nonsense Chief Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw) and his jumpy sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby). The pair is tasked with investigating murders in 1960s Northumberland, their cases almost always containing layers of twists and reveals that leave them stunned by the end.
Two shows on deck this time, running 90 minutes apiece.
George Gently is a great show and an absolute must for mystery fans. I confess I'm not much of a lover of the genre (I got a kick out of the Father Dowling Mysteries back in the day but that was mainly because my nana loved the show and I liked hanging out with her). But these Gently offerings are so well-staged and absorbing, I always find himself hanging on to each minute, up until the usually surprising reveal.
The anchor is Martin Shaw, who consistently turns in great stuff as the eponymous inspector. Gently is understated and stern, yet he's doubtlessly a bad-ass and owns every scene he's in. He may not have the martial artistry or gunplay skills of your generic Hollywood Alpha, but everyone fears him and the guy is never wrong. Gently is quick to rebuke his over-eager and occasionally knuckle-headed partner and Bacchus takes umbrage at this. Still, Gently is so legendary, Bacchus knows how lucky he is to be paired with such a stud. Shaw and Ingleby have good chemistry together and despite their character's sporadic friction, there is affection there, approaching a father/son dynamic and it works.
None of this would be worthwhile if the mysteries failed to produce. The storytelling is arguably the strongest element:
* "Gently Evil"
The investigation into a murder of a prostitute leads Gently into a family's shocking history, forcing him to question his own beliefs about evil.
* "Peace & Love"
It's been a long time coming, but we finally get a feature set against the backdrop of the hippie movement. A murder might be connected to the docking of a nuclear submarine and Gently must wade through a sea of unwashed Communists to break the case.
Both episodes are reliably strong, though the former is my favorite. The twist was faintly telegraphed but the writers were deft enough to keep the twists rolling until the very end. The result is a tense, upsetting 90 minutes. The second episode has twists of its own, but ends up focusing on the social mores and anachronisms of the '60s. One of the reasons I enjoy the series is that the setting supplements the mystery and doesn't overpower it. With "Peace & Love" you get every issue you can think of: homophobia, abortion, feminism, free love, anti-war posturing, Communism. I get that the tumultuous age is juicy, but all that stuff seemed to overshadow Gently a bit much for my taste.
Acorn knows how to do Blu-ray and their presentation here is sublime. The 1.78:1 widescreen transfer may be "merely" 1080i, but it is absolutely beautiful, razor-sharp and starkly colored. I don't care what the tech purists might say; "p" or not, this is as awesome a slice of video fidelity as I've seen in some time. A clean 2.0 stereo PCM provides the sound. No extras.
George Gently continues to deliver. The mysteries are rewarding and the Blu-ray is a looker.
Not Guilty. Hey, crims, Gently will end you.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated