vera tvshow
Those of us who are disappointed in HBO’s True Detective—and count me as one of those—will find much to like in two import crime dramas. And even if you are on the side of the True Detective trio, there is still much to like with the fifth series of Vera from England and Harry, from New Zealand.

The characters in these two series are the real true detectives.
The four movie-length Vera segments stream Mondays, starting July 6, on Acorn TV. Harry is available on Acorn TV now.

Welcome back, Vera
It is indeed Changing Tides for Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, a cantankerous cop with the Northumbria, England, police force. Based on the novels by Ann Cleeves, Vera: Changing Tides stars Brenda Blethyn, who has entertained us in each of the Vera seasons.

Vera could be a distant relative of Columbo—she often is disheveled, with her floppy hat and old coat looking as if she picked them up off the floor after stepping on them. She often looks like one’s eccentric aunt. Her appearance gives her an advantage as this perceptive cop often is dismissed by others, especially criminals.

The biggest changing tide for Vera is her new sergeant, DS Aiden Healey (Kenny Doughty). He replaces DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon) who has now been promoted. It will take a bit but soon Vera is treating Aiden just as she did Joe—as a colleague but also as a surrogate son.

It’s a dynamic that works well for this series and the change in players doesn’t stop this.

In the first episode, Vera and Aiden investigate an explosion at a financially strapped caravan park—trailer park for us Yanks—that killed the sister of the park’s owner. Stag parties, a marijuana crop, love triangles, and bad neighbors play into the plot.

Blethyn continues to nail the part of Vera—even when the script gets a little bogged down in exposition. And Doughty also rises to the occasion.

Wild About Harry
Harry TVseries
, the New Zealand import, has the usual brooding cop with a sad backstory who, despite his personal problems, shows his insight in each case he handles.

OK, so all that is a cliché, but Harry comes across as an original series with characters one wants to spend time with and stories that challenge the viewer.

Harry also has Oscar Kightley and Sam Neill. Enough said.

First aired in 2013, Harry is a six-part crime drama series set in Auckland.

In the first episode, Detective Harry Anglesea (Oscar Kightley) returns to Auckland's Major Crime Unit after a four-week bereavement leave in his native Samoa.

His wife’s suicide will forever haunt him and grief seizes his heart daily.

Harry also is self-destructive and he is in no way ready to return to work. Nor is he the kind of father that his 13-year-old daughter, Mele, needs more than ever.

But work also is what Harry needs and he and his supervisor/mentor Detective Jim Stocks Stockton (Sam Neill) become embroiled in a high-profile drug case.

I would watch Neill read the phone book. But as usual, he brings depth and class to any role he does.

Photos: Top: Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty in Vera. Bottom: Oscar Kightley, at left, and Sam Neill, center, in Harry. Photos courtesy Acorn TV.