TV Series Review: Vera

Veraby Kung Fu Zu 1/13/15
As those who have read any of my reviews on British TV may recall, I find the disease of political correctness has pretty much infected the lot. Imagine then, my surprise, when I tuned into a new detective series presently being broadcast by PBS, which was as apolitical as any program I have seen in years.

Vera is about the vicissitudes of detective chief inspector Vera Stanhope and her sidekick detective sergeant Joe Ashworth in trying to solve various murders which take place in the district of the fictional “Northumberland and City Police” force. This is clearly in the area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Northeast England.

Vera is a short dumpy spinster, who would appear to be in her middle to late fifties. To call her cantankerous would probably be a compliment. She is rude, brusque and unkempt, but these characteristics do not keep her, in the slightest, from pursuing her brief of criminal catching. They are, perhaps, advantages as she is not waylaid by societal niceties nor the fear of hurting the feelings of others.

Joe is a young man with a wife and several children, one just a few weeks old. He clearly respects Vera and tries to maintain a good relationship with her, but he does have to put up with a lot of guff. This sometimes leads to friction and misunderstandings between the two. In one instance Joe will try to invite Vera into a somewhat more personal relationship, which she will bluntly reject. At another time, Vera will try to open up slightly and Joe will make some sarcastic remark, which will close her down immediately. I think it safe to say that the development of their on-screen relationship will play a important part in the series.

I waited to see the second installment of the series before commenting on it, because I wanted to be somewhat sure as to its quality and content. So far I have not been disappointed. The acting and filming are good and the scripts are well written and believable.  There is none of your contemporary political correct sermonizing or silly storylines, which one too often encounters during these days of mediocre entertainment.

I can recommend Vera to anyone who likes a good British detective series which is not highly stylized or romantic. The first two programs were quite enjoyable. • (2048 views)

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19 Responses to TV Series Review: Vera

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks for the review, Mr. Kung. I’m definitely going to check that out. After all, I have you to blame for getting involved in the Inspector Gently series. 😉

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Brad,

      You are welcome. Unlike the left which likes to spread misery, we conservatives like to spread happiness and knowledge.

      Most stuff I see on TV these days, is simply not worth watching. When I find a series such as Vera I am doubly pleased, 1) that it is not rubbish, 2) that is actually good. I hope the following programs in the series don’t disappoint.

      By the way, I should probably mention that the accents one hears in Vera are not the Queen’s English. The stories take place around Newcastle which is known for the particular dialect called Geordie which can be difficult to understand. I believe I also heard some Scottish accents mixed in, which wouldn’t be surprising as the border is not far away.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That’s why God invented closed captioning.

        I’ll see if I can get ahold of season 1. I trust you that they haven’t inserted a bunch of eye-rolling political correctness in it. What I’ll be interested in seeing is if they come up with some good stories. I’ve noticed, for instance, on Netflix that there are tons of English (and other) crime series. I’ve sampled a few. And it gets to the point where they are all pretty much the same. The show’s entertainment value thus often rests on the strength of the central personality (such as Inspector Morse undoubtedly has, but some others do not). And, really, I have to give to Inspector Gently for having some charisma as well.

  2. Rosalys says:

    I checked and it doesn’t look like Vera is being shown on our local PBS station.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Sorry to hear that. I am in the DFW area and KERA is one of the older and larger PBS stations in the country. I believe a fair amount of test marketing is done here.

  3. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Thanks for alerting us to this one, KFZ – like you, I generally ignore new TV shows because they’re so awful, confining my viewing to a few documentaries and the occasional cartoon or 60’s rerun. I’ll see if we get this one in Chicago.

  4. Misanthropette says:

    Sorry, old boy, I still miss Rumpole of the Bailey and “She who must be obeyed.” I wonder if any writer for television in 2015 could get away with that phrase? Reminds me of my late, great Criminal Law professor who used to quote liberally from the books during his lectures. Those witty Brits!

    Is it too domestic to write that “The Great British Baking Show” has also won my heart? Where else can a reality baking show make the grade (or is it that the proof is in the pudding? yuk yuk yuk) I love the contestants. From the Scottish gentleman who likes to keep things simple with treacle added to virtually everything he makes or the hipster Brit new generation bakers making Key Lime Baked Alaska and complicated recipes, they’re so polite, so courteous, it’s difficult to believe it’s a contest. If this were an American show, the contestants would all be polluting each others’ ingredients or sabotaging their “bakes”. It’s refreshing to watch people competing like adults.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve never seen any Rumpole shows, though I do have a couple of the Mortimer books (which I haven’t read yet — I get books far faster than I can read them). A friend of mine is a dedicated fan of the series.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I really like Rumpole. I tried watching some old CD’s (or something) that did not have closed captioning. I found it so difficult to understand what they were saying, I couldn’t watch it. I’m going to see if I can find a newer version of that with proper closed captioning.

      I don’t think “She who must be obeyed” would be any problem whatsoever these days because it positions the woman as the superior. That’s more than okay to do so according to today’s feminist ethic. Denigrating men in any fashion is allowed. Holding women up as the wisest, smartest, and most sensible creatures. Allowed. The reverse. Not allowed.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I don’t think “She who must be obeyed” would be any problem whatsoever

        We mustn’t forget old Rumpole stole the saying from H. Rider Haggard. And from Haggard’s description, “She” really had to be obeyed.

        I believe I have seen all the Rumpole episodes and have the books on which they were based. Leo McKern was perfect for the part.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    After a two year hiatus, “Vera” is back on PBS. The first installment of the new year was broadcast tonight at 9:00pm CST.

    The non-PC tradition carries on.

  6. Dave Dave says:

    Vera is definitely one of the good ones. Enjoyed every episode. As a cop in a past life, I remain amused at TV’s attempts to portray them. Invariably they do something will cause me to either laugh outright to exclaim how they missed something quite obvious.
    Agree with KFZ that the interaction between Vera and Joe remains interesting.
    Will be good to see where this goes in a next installment. Also, I believe you can see the previous series on Hulu or NetFlix.
    Riffing on the above comment – I own all the Rumple series – and highly recommend it also. I don’t know much about British law and court procedures, but Rumpole’s musings while in court are priceless. Having sided with the prosecution in my own court experience, it was refreshing to see Mortimer’s take on the defense. They got it so right when you bring the same people in again and again for the same offenses.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      So what would you recommend as the better TV shows and movies in terms of getting the police experience right?

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I don’t know why your interesting question has gone unanswered. But I’m going to assume that the most realistic cop show is the one where they sit around for hours doing paperwork.

        The Inspector Morse series seems to have a streak of realism to it, if only because there’s a lot about it that is dull work, tedious interviews, driving from place to place while discussing intricacies of the case, walking about in suits that desperately need pressing, tempers that are often a little short, and grabbing food when you can, usually of poor quality.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Dave,

      It would be interesting to hear of your experience in law enforcement. Why don’t you write something for ST?

      I watched this season’s second episode of Vera tonight and was not disappointed.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Or hound stories. This site is your sandbox. I hope people get that. Remember when Apple had that embarrassingly un-self-aware 1984ish “Think Different” campaign (reminiscent of Timothy’s favorite scene from Life of Brian wherein the crowd chants in unison We are all individuals)?

        Here it’s actually okay to think different. Do spare us, of course, the regular laundry list of grievances against the Left. Surely life has held more richness for you than that. I’d love to hear cop stories, or hound stories, or another one of Mr. Kung’s oddball (in a good way) travel stories. We’re here for that. Get writing.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      FYI, they don’t currently have Vera for streaming on Netflix, although they do have it via their DVD service.

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