DVD Verdict
Home About News Blu-ray DVD Reviews Upcoming DVD Releases Contest Podcasts Forums Judges Contact  

Case Number 24716

Buy Vera: Set 2 at Amazon

Vera: Set 2

Acorn Media // 2011 // 370 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // October 24th, 2012

• View Appellate Judge Stewart's Dossier
• E-mail Appellate Judge Stewart
• Printer Friendly Review


Every purchase you make through these Amazon links supports DVD Verdict's reviewing efforts. Thank you!




 

All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart has been discovering another picturesque British region he wants to avoid.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Vera: Set 1 (published August 11th, 2011) and Vera: Set 3 (published February 27th, 2014) are also available.

The Charge

"I want to know if we're looking at coincidence or connection."—Vera Stanhope

Opening Statement

Northumberland's got a lot of nice scenery, but it's also got bleak rows of identical houses. In both of these settings, murders abound—at least in the world of Vera, a series of mystery movies from Britain's ITV. DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn, Atonement) originated, as ITV detectives often do, from a pen, in this case of Ann Cleeves (Silent Voices originated with an actual novel).

Facts of the Case

Vera: Set 2 features four made-for-TV movies, each on its own disc:

• The Ghost Position—A police colleague of Vera's jumps from a balcony to his death in the wake of a petrol-bombing at his home. Vera looks into protests and her colleague's broken marriage.

• Silent Voices—The drowning victim was an excellent swimmer. The sensational case she oversaw as a social worker also involved a drowning. This is all going on just as Vera has taken up swimming for her health.

• Sandancers—The vomit at the scene wasn't from the deceased. It's a hint that the apparent suicide of an Afghanistan vet might be murder. Vera clashes with a commander, but gets help from a military investigator.

• A Certain Samaritan—Vera figures out that a man who turned up dead in Portsmouth fell off a bridge in her territory. What she'd like to know is what the dead man's mother (Phyllis Logan, Downton Abbey) is trying to hide.

The Evidence

Vera Stanhope's screwed-up life story is told in shorthand: the milk in her fridge is bad, her table is covered with pizza flyers, she has a touch of angina, and she doesn't even know how to dress for a child's first communion—or how to get to the church on time. Brenda Blethyn delivers her lines with a Northumberland accent that sounds, to me at least, like Frances McDormand in Fargo.

Once you get through the initial signs of discombobulation, Blethyn's performance gives you a rooting interest in Vera. You might sympathize as she picks an unlikely swimming spot—a posh spa—only to have an investigation lead there, or as she tries not to think about her late father's "other woman." Vera comes across as a generally sad person, enough so that when she smiles, you might feel joy for her, too.

Her partner, DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon, These Foolish Things), has a family life, with a wife who's concerned about his diet and a daughter. He rides Vera about her health, but provides a caring ear when she has problems. It turns out that he and his family also look up to Vera; both Joe and Vera are surprised when his wife Celine actually takes Vera's advice on a personal matter.

Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Vera has a knack for interesting intercuts. For example, the scene of a woman being held underwater in Silent Voices is juxtaposed with Vera's struggles in a pool session. It also has a knack for showing off Northumberland's beautiful scenery: a car rides through lush greenery or Vera interviews a suspect by the water. It does so with a recent, digital-quality picture that doesn't disappoint. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is par for the course with Acorn's Brit TV releases and performs admirably. There are English SDH subtitles, for those who are challenged by the accents, but there are no extras.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

The combination of downbeat cases and Vera's lonely, sad life adds up to a weariness you've seen before. Cases where prime suspects turn up dead themselves also lead to a familiar feeling.

Closing Statement

I found Vera occasionally heavy, but well-made. If you're already a Brenda Blethyn fan, you'll enjoy Vera, which rests a lot on her shoulders. If you're a British mystery fan, you'll want to check it out, but you might look for a sample movie at Acorn's site first.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Give us your feedback!

Did we give Vera: Set 2 a fair trial? yes / no

Share This Review


Follow DVD Verdict


Other Reviews You Might Enjoy

• Conversation Piece
• Farewell My Concubine
• Proof (1991)
• Tortilla Soup

DVD Reviews Quick Index

• DVD Releases
• Recent DVD Reviews
• Search for a DVD review...

Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 80
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 370 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Crime
• Drama
• Foreign
• Mystery
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








DVD | Blu-ray | Upcoming DVD Releases | About | Staff | Jobs | Contact | Subscribe | Find us on Google+ | Privacy Policy

Review content copyright © 2012 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.