The years immediately after the World Wars were times of change for England with culture and social reform moving faster than many were prepared to accept.
The involving stories of Downton Abbey set in post WWI explore this.
Now the series Grantchester shows the aftermath of WWII on the English countryside. Grantchester airs at 10 p.m. Sundays from Jan. 18, 2015, through Feb. 22 on PBS. Of course, check your local listings.
And yes, in some markets, that means Grantchester follows Downton Abbey, which gives viewers double examples of how England recovered after these wars.
And Grantchester is definitely worth adding to your viewing schedule.
Grantchester is based on James Runcie's novel Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, which has been called "the coziest of cozy murder mysteries."
Frankly, I disagree.
True, Grantchester is set in a time that many look back at as a simpler time.
But there was nothing simpler about this era. Women and minorities had restrictions on their lives; being gay was illegal; the death penalty was enforced.
Yet Grantchester weaves in these social changes with a light approach and a sense of humor that works quite well.
This was a time when the local vicar was the pillar of the community.
But few communities had a vicar as worldly—and as easy on the eyes—as the Rev. Sidney Chambers, played so well by James Norton (Happy Valley, Death Comes to Pemberley).
Sidney is a war hero, and familiar with the human frailties of jealousy, passion, revenge, and prejudice as he has experienced each of these.
Part of the theme of Grantchester is Sidney trying to find solace in the religious life while not denying the secular world.
And of course there are the murders he helps solve, assisting local Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green, Wire in the Blood).
The two men eventually will work well together, as they become bound by respect and past experiences. People naturally confide in a vicar, so Sidney's involvement is organic to the story. Plus, "As a priest, isn't everything our business?" says Sidney.
Norton shows Sidney as a complicated man, yearning to help others as he finds his own salvation. Green elevates any role he is in and his return is most welcomed.
With Foyle's War in its last season, Grantchester's run is well timed, and it also soon becomes addictive viewing.
Photos: Top, James Norton; center, Robson Green and James Norton. PBS photos