Appellate Judge James A. Stewart is torn between his love of plot conventions and admiration for a gripping, realistic drama.
"Based on actual events in Vassieux-en-Vercors, a town in France famed for its acts of resistance during the German occupation."
In Wish Me Luck: Series 3, World War II is nearly at an end. News of the Allies landing on French shores reaches the resistance leaders midway through the eight-episode season. However, it's not necessarily good news, since it's going to take a while for Allied troops to liberate France, and the Nazis aren't giving up.
Facts of the Case
As the story begins, British radio operator Emily (Jane Snowden, The Frog Prince) escapes from the Nazis with the help of Nicole, a French woman. Meanwhile, Faith (Jane Asher, The Winter's Tale) is taking command back in London, and preparing to send Virginia (Catherine Schell, Space: 1999) and Lewis (Jeremy Nicholas, The Pickwick Papers) to join the resistance effort. In the village of La Crest, the Nazis capture Father Martin (Bryan Pringle, The Pallisers), a priest who's part of the resistance, and Sylvie (Shirley Henderson, 24 Hour Party People), a French girl, befriends a German officer to get information.
Kate Buffery (Wing and a Prayer), who played tough resistance leader Liz in the first two series of Wish Me Luck isn't anywhere to be found in the first few episodes of this last series. I saw her name as a writing credit in one of the episodes, though. She appears later for a surprising face-to-face encounter with a Nazi officer. That's a disappointment a first, since Liz dominated the first two series. However, it didn't take long for me to get involved with the new characters, and Buffery's presence might have been a distraction from a powerful story.
Without Buffery, the focus is more on the people of La Crest, the village which becomes a target of Nazi vengeance as the war goes against them. The capture of Father Martin and his subsequent escape begin an escalating battle between the Nazis and the resistance which will lead to a lot of bloodshed. Nazi raids and interrogations have been nasty throughout Wish Me Luck, but this is the most chilling of the three series. It's shocking to see the Nazis become even more brutal and violent as the Allies approach, but it emphasizes the horrors that the resistance characters of Wish Me Luck have lived through over three seasons.
There are some powerful moments that cut through the basic gut-level terror: the friendship between Sylvie and the Nazi officer turns out to be genuine, even when he realizes that she's part of the resistance; Father Martin questions his faith when he sees the terror leveled against his village; and a Nazi spy among the resistance seeks help from Emily when discovered.
There are some typical Wish Me Luck storylines. Virginia, one of the new British spies in town, makes—and conceals—a personal discovery, causing even more trouble for the resistance. Emily is reunited with a flame. This time, the soapy stories are a much smaller part of the overall mosaic.
The picture quality is good, with bright colors that make an ironic backdrop for battles with Nazis.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The people behind Wish Me Luck must have known that introducing a lot of new characters without their strong central character would be confusing; they helpfully included both the characters' real names and their cover names in the credits.
Viewers of the first two series saw some unlikely but satisfying rescues. If you've been watching all along, you're likely to find yourself wishing for some of those heroic plot contrivances. You will be disappointed.
Sadly, there are no extras. The link to real events is mentioned on the DVD cover, but there's no text feature to put it into context, as with the first series.
After a second series that dipped its toes in soapy waters, Wish Me Luck finished with a grim but fascinating look at the waning days of World War II. Viewers who saw the first series of Wish Me Luck might prefer to skip over the second one and go straight to this one; the middle series, while not awful, was the weakest of the three.
I suspect viewers who haven't seen the first two series might be more impressed by this set, because they won't be going in with any expectations.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.