VERA – British Detective Series (Review)

03_0BY RUBY CHINGU

Genre – Detective, Crime

3 Seasons already with around 4 episodes each

RATING – 8/10

Some people may disagree but I think British detective series are of much better quality compared to its American counterparts. This could be a foolish generalization since the assumption is wholly based on my limited viewing experience. The British style of detective dramas tend to be less involved with the detectives’ personal lives yet they invoke multi-layered emotions from me, mostly because they have this sort of a sombre melancholic style weaved to its cinematography.

My favourite ones of the lot are Sherlock, Luther and, of course, the unique Vera. I would not say that Sherlock is a purely detective drama since the characters are not really true to life – I am not able to relate much to Sherlock Holmes as a character because I often feel so stupid in contrast to his out-of-this-world intelligence. Luther, I like, mainly because Idris Elba played him so well [though Palah Chingu disagree with me]. And DCI Luther is so tormented and dark and suicidal and angry that I find him super sexy. [DCI – Detective Chief Inspector]

ImageNevertheless, Vera is the best. Unlike the other two, Vera can be considered as the least-glossy series of the lot. No hot guys, no sex appeal, basically very few reasons for a young hormonally-crazy horny woman for me to watch. Yet I did because I was extremely curious to see a series about a police investigative department headed by a grumpy short fat lonely woman by the name of DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn). People in her department were scared of her for she was a brilliant detective with a very sharp tongue and rarely polite to her subordinates. Vera, as a person, is very unlikable and does not really care for human sentiments and sympathies. All she cares for, really, is to solve the case and get justice for the victims. And that is what makes her such a fascinating character. Her life is really about her job and nothing else – she lives alone in a small cottage, drives an old jeep and has NO personal lives at all. Simply put, she is a very very miserable woman.

These TV series are giving this sort of signals a lot – that the best detectives are often miserable. How can they not be if they have to deal with dead people and heartless criminals every day?

Vera has just completed its third season a while ago and there is a fourth one in production. Its running time is usually one hour and half. The tone of the film is quite slow for some – the general feel of the show is quite monotonous and serious and such feel lasts for that whole one and a half hour. However, the slow pace makes the series very enjoyable and easy to follow. Why? Because the stories or each case are explained in a more detailed manner, from the beginning till the end of the episode. Many times would the investigations reach a dead end with no clue in sight, as what would happen in real lives. The plot is unpredictable – we can’t really say who’s the perpetrator until the end.

ImageI also love the series as Vera’s police force covers areas like Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland, some English towns I have zero knowledge on. Most of the cases happens in the countryside and literally, I mean literally, there are almost zero big tall buildings shown in the series. We can see vast greenery in the scenes, with charming little cottages, flower gardens etc etc. Yet at the same time, murder happens. People get killed and people kill. I mean, the Brits does it so well, combining the safety of the countryside with the dangerous nature of crime.

If I have to sum Vera up in three words, it would be that it is a miserably good series. It is completely and unabashedly devoid of happiness and romance. However, it is far from being boring. It is basically about a miserable chief inspector heading a miserable police department investigating miserable crimes involving miserable people in miserable towns. What’s not to like? The series feels raw and real, as if that is how the police actually are in real lives. The depressing tone of the series makes it quite honest drama. It is not a fancy drama – don’t get your hopes up on seeing any action. As I have mentioned before, Vera is a fat short old lady – she does not run, she investigates and she does it so well. Her brain is brilliant – she pushed herself to work hard, mainly because she knew her subordinates are a group of lazy bums themselves. Her self reliance and resourcefulness is really what makes the series so great to me.

Although, if I am to be a detective in real life, DCI Vera Stanhope is the last person on earth I would like as my boss. Who would want to go to work and face a grumpy sarcastic boss every morning? But if my boss isto be DCI John Luther… now that would be another story. Hehehehehe

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