I have to admit I'm not a big fan of police procedurals — television shows which follow cops through their day-to-day, but more specifically as they tackle a particularly vexing case. In fact I doubt I've watched anything remotely resembling one on a regular basis since the early days of Hill Street Blues. While I know there are people who swear by Law & Order and others among the wave of new shows of the type that are prevalent on the small screen these days, none of them have ever captured my imagination. Perhaps it's some sort of residual feelings left over from the anti-cop prejudices of my youth, but it takes a pretty special show to make me want to watch people get busted.
One of those shows has just had its most recent series of episodes gathered together as a four-disc box set by Acorn Media for release on Tuesday May 25, 2010. George Gently Series 2 continues where the first season left off in following Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw), who after the murder of his wife by London gangsters and sickened by the burgeoning corruption among London police officers, relocated to the north of Britain in an attempt to start over again. Ironically, the Detective Sergeant assigned to assist him, John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby), is a slick young officer with dreams of a career in the big city, and who occasionally plays a little fast and loose with his ethics. Set in 1964 against the backdrop of an England adjusting itself to a reduced role in the world's affairs and on the cusp of major social change, each of the four episodes contained in the set not only have the officers solving a case but dealing with the changing world around them.
With each show being nearly feature length, around 80 minutes long, the show's writers have plenty of room to develop not only the plot in each instance, but the relationship between the two men. Interestingly enough, while Gently has a stricter moral code than his junior partner, in some ways he's by far the more liberal of the two. For while Bacchus is attracted to the material aspects of the new era, his world view is still rather limited and as a result is somewhat more close-minded than his boss. There's a place for everything and everything in its place in John Bacchus' world, but Gently knows better, which leaves him open to accepting that things might not always be as they seem. What's wonderful to see is how these characteristics subtly emerge while an episode is unfolding, so we are able to witness the natural development of their relationship and come to understand each of their characters a little better at the same time.