George Gently: Series 4. Acorn Media. 2 episodes on two CD. 178 minutes. $39.99.
The British culture of the 1960s fascinated me when I was growing up.
I so embraced the music, the hairstyles, the clothes and everything else about England.
The Beatles were my favorite (I was a Paul Girl and still am.) But I also loved Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and all of them. I wanted to be a girl drummer like Honey Lantree of The Honeycombs. I wore my hair like Jane Asher, straight and with long bangs. I devoured the Mary Quant fashions. And I bought Yardley’s Oh! de London cologne (I wonder what I would think of that today). And yet, I was just a kid from a small town in Southeast Missouri.
The England of the 1960s seemed like such an exotic land to this farm girl.
But it really wasn’t.
England gave us the best music of the time and the edgy fashion but it had the same concerns as any you’d find in small-town America.
The British series George Gently, now on DVD, isn’t just a highly entertaining police procedural. It also is a glimpse of the 1960s, examining our recent history and how we dealt with the situations.
George Gently is based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter that debuted in 1961 with Gently Go Man.
Debuting on BBC in 2007, the series stars Martin Shaw as Gently, and Lee Ingleby as Detective Sergeant John Bacchus, his younger partner with the Paul McCartney haircut. Simon Hubbard mans the police station front desk as PC Taylor.
In the novels, Gently and his squad operated out of Norfolk, England, while the TV series has moved the action to Northumberland and County Durham. The series’ fifth season is set to continue later in 2012.
The episodes deliciously portray the yin and yang of the detectives’ approaches: the world-weary experience of George Gently and the novice, know-it-all approach of John Bacchus. John is often ready to wrap up a case on the surface evidence while George often sees there is more to the case than they have uncovered.
While both men have compassion for the victim, John sees that some cases have shades of grey while George is strictly black and white.
The Series 4 that I screened has two very distinct and very involving episodes.
“Goodbye China” is a heartbreaking story that involves the death of a former informant, two young hoodlums and a mentally handicapped school. The story has so many layers that are well explored.
“Gently Upside Down” is about the murder of a student who was poised for a bright future. The story also shows the call of fame that arose from local teenage music shows, men who prey on the naivete and trust of teenage girls, pop music and the youth moment.
I can’t wait to see more of George Gently and John Bacchus.
PHOTO: Lee Ingleby as Detective Sergeant John Bacchus,left, and Martin Shaw as George Gently. Acorn Media photo