Thursday, November 03, 2016

Why Would Anyone in England Even Try to Get Away With Murder?

My dad's been trying to get me interested in Grantchester, a British mystery series about a vicar in 1950s England helping a cop solve crimes while both of them struggle with their experiences in World War II. Honestly, the entire country seems to be full of outstanding detectives in every profession. The various soap opera elements are fairly interesting - Sidney struggles with alcohol and seems to self-sabotage his romantic relationships, possibly because he was still pining after a longtime childhood friend that he could never be with, because class differences, as one example - but the mysteries were dull and unimaginative, certainly in the first season. I tended to tune out during the segments of each episode where Sidney and Geordie were sleuthing.

Season 2, the second half especially, showed a marked improvement. Maybe because the mysteries were intertwining more successfully with the character developments. Geordie in particular, having survived being shot in season 1, struggles with that trauma, as well as his own issues with the imperfection of the justice system. As is typical with these sorts of things, his struggles are not expressed in entirely healthy fashions.

There's a whole plotline about a young man convicted and sentenced to hang for killing a young woman. There's some question of whether it was intentional or an accident. Sidney and Geordie caught the young man, and Sidney knew him and the victim. Sidney believes it was an accident, and that killing this young man won't accomplish anything. Geordie is less convinced it was an accident, and even if he agrees the boy's punishment is perhaps excessive, also thinks the public needs to see that people are punished, to have faith in the system, essentially. They come to loggerheads over this, especially considering some of Geordie's interrogation methods, and the fact Sidney uses things Geordie told him, in confidence, against him during the trial (and repeats them out of context).

I felt like that should have been the dealbreaker in their friendship.

Watching the two of them crash into and wreck each other repeatedly, then stagger off to cause damage to people all around them was pretty fascinating. Painful to watch; it's not fun in any joyous meaning to observe generally good people grind themselves down from within, but still compelling. And there were the efforts of all the people around them - Leonard, Mrs. Maguire (Sidney and Len's landlady), Margaret, and Cathy Keating (Geordie's wife) - to help, all of whom have their own problems. Len puts his foot in it with Mrs. Maguire and has to try and fix that, despite being a painfully awkward and shy fellow. Also he's trying to become more comfortable with his homosexuality and expressing himself in general, so having to look after Sidney is another burden he doesn't need.

Grantchester isn't remotely close to my favorite of these murder mystery shows, but it's at least on an upswing.

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