Acorn Media // 2008 // 265 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 2nd, 2012
In 1960s Britain, an upstanding detective takes on a dangerous world.
You know what George will gently do? Pwn your ass.
Acorn covers its bases with this excellent mystery series from across the pond, releasing the first series on Blu-ray. My introduction to George Gently and his investigative adventures kicked off on Series 2, so seeing the beginning was a treat -- and just as rewarding as everything that followed.
Three feature-length mysteries spread over two discs:
* "Gently Go Man"
We're introduced to Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw) through tragic means: the hit-and-run murder of his wife. This violence sets Gently on a mission to bring her killer to justice, but his resistance to play the political game in Scotland Yard gets him transferred to a rural precinct and partnered with an over-eager, sort of dumb sergeant named John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby). Their first case: unraveling the mystery behind the murder of a young man who may be connected to the very man responsible for the death of Gently's wife.
* "The Burning Man"
A burned corpse is found in a field and through some digging, Gently and Bacchus discover a labyrinth of IRA connections to the murder. Their investigation is complicated when an agent from Special Branch shows up suddenly, his intentions shrouded in secrecy.
* "Bomber's Moon"
A fisherman whips back his line and discovers an eyeball attached to the hook. A quick search reveals the owner of the eyeball: a German entrepreneur who had his back broken and was tossed into the lake alive. All signs point to his shifty son, but Gently isn't sold.
I love this show. What George Gently may lack in car chases and gunfights, it more than compensates with fantastic plotting, sharp writing, and two phenomenal lead characters. Series One proves to be just as satisfying as its excellent follow-ups and was even more of a treat as resetting the story provided a "prequel" feel to the mythology. Bacchus and Gently are two sublime creations and the chemistry shared between Shaw and Ingleby is evident from the moment the two share a scene together.
Another aspect of the show that is refreshing: the period-specific plot points aren't delivered in that snide "look at what kind of barbarians we were back then!" tone. Sure there are references to the illegality of homosexuality, the state of mental institutions, and how policing methods may have been a touch on the slow side, but it all feels organic and relevant to the story.
Acorn serves up another quality high definition release: a clear, stark 1.78:1 widescreen transfer (1080i, yet still a performer), 2.0 PCM stereo, and three text-only interviews. Fine, the extras could use some more effort in the future.
A great show that should appeal to anyone with a remote interest in quality mystery-solving. Scope it out.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 265 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Text Interviews