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DVD Review: George Gently, Series 3

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The newly released DVD, George Gently, Series 3, consists of two movies originally aired in 2010 as part of BBC1’s Inspector George Gently series. Featuring Martin Shaw as Gently and Lee Ingleby as his sidekick Sgt. John Bacchus, the series is set in Northumberland in the 1960s.

Far from swinging London, the episodes feature a very different England than most American audiences are used to seeing. Not only is the rolling landscape and industrial background a novelty, but the social tensions of the old guard versus the new ideas of freedom in the ’60s are front and center.

Viewers will also enjoy Gently and Bacchus’s investigation and interrogation techniques. Apparently in the ’60s white gloves were never donned before examining evidence, cigarettes were smoked at every opportunity, even over a corpse while it was being scrutinized, and a detective sergeant’s left hook to the gut was an effective and approved method to use in the witness interrogation room.

I haven’t seen the previous episodes in the series, or read the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter (he wrote 45) on which they are based, but after watching these two movies I’d like to, as Gently and Bacchus’s relationship is quite interesting. They are colleagues at times, at other times combatants, and even sometimes become mentor and student.

The Series 3 DVD comes with two discs, each containing a full-length episode. The running time of both discs is 176 minutes and viewers can opt for subtitles or scene selection as extra features. The first disk’s episode, set in 1966, “Gently Evil,” is a heartbreaking story of a young woman with a shady past whose death may be connected to a series of child disappearances. The guest stars are all excellent, and include Melanie Pullen Clark as Bacchus’s estranged wife, Neve McIntosh as a conflicted female lawyer, and Natalie Garner, as the victim’s daughter, who may know more about the case than at first suspected.

The second disk, “Peace and Love,” find Gently and Bacchus caught up in peace protests at Durham University when one of the professors (Emun Elliot) has been murdered. As students at the university keeps talking to Bacchus about free love, the local homosexual community must remain in the shadows to avoid persecution and prosecution. Gently must decide whether the murder is political or personal, as evidence of improper relations with students and blackmail comes to light. Feautured guest stars include Warren Clarke, James Atherton, and Sarah Lancashire.

George Gently is completely original, but fans of Robbie Coltrane’s Cracker mystery series will also like the tone of the show, as the personal and psychological aspects of the crimes and its investigators are as important as the solutions. Martin Shaw is a wonderful actor to watch and Lee Ingleby ranges from comic relief to a ’60s Malcolm MacDowell-ish menace. He fits well into his hipper, modder suits, although he seems to have trouble being in his own skin. Simon Hubbard provides a benign presence as the put-upon (by Bacchus) PC Taylor who is Gently’s major factotum and front desk guard at the police station.

After just two feature-length episodes I’m already hooked. Happily it appears that not only are there past episodes to check out, but there is the promise of more episodes in the future as well. Looking forward to further investigations with Inspector Gently.

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