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In the tradition of 'Prime Suspect', 'Vera' is a savvy, homely, middle aged female Detective Chief Inspector commanding a large force of mostly compliant male underlings. Like several popular female centered mystery shows that have been brought to us by the likes of ITV and BBC, 'Vera' is based upon a series of novels by an accomplished British mystery author. Ann Cleeves in this case.

No correlation to anything by Agatha Christie is viable, however. This is not Jane Marple, but much more Sherlock Holmes, albeit thoroughly modern (mysteries are ripped from the headlines), sexier (Vera's attending detectives are male model types), more diverse (one lead detective is a woman of color), and told against the breathtaking backdrop of Northumberland countryside and Newcastle upon Tyne. The idyllic small village effect is driven home, punctuated more effectively by all the horrors which unfold behind cottage doors.

Brenda Blethyn, Miss Vera Stanhope herself, is a movie and television veteran, and brings a raw, believable gravitas to the Vera character. Recipient of a BAFTA, Mrs. Blethyn's full acting range is on display in every episode. She seems to relish traipsing through the bleak, gray countryside, conducting murder investigations whose moods and locales evoke the worst of Dickens' Edwin Drood.

The first season of 'Vera' attracted an enormous viewership, though the season was merely comprised of four 90 minute episodes. ITV quickly ordered four more episodes. Season one found Vera investigating everything from homicidal sugar daddies, to a wrongfully imprisoned young woman who is only exonerated after she kills herself.

'Vera' offers strong acting and directing and plausible plot lines that contain no end in twists and turns. Indeed, Vera's talent for extrapolating evidence, leads, and conclusions from abstract minutiae contributes to her fascinating powers. Powers often at war with her demons of alcoholism. A tortured, drunkard detective: yes, cliché, but 'Vera' keeps it fresh and suspenseful.

'Vera' is of the new breed of crime shows that do not necessarily rap up all loose ends perfectly, and occasionally it appears bad guys will get away, until Vera solves the crime within the last two minutes of any given episode.

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Acorn Media
3 Seasons, 12 Episodes
Drama
8.4/10
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Vera Full Episode Guide

  • The fatal stabbing of a former police officer outside a Newcastle nightclub sets Stanhope on a quest to recreate the victim's last movements. What she finds leads her back 25 years, to a web of deception, lies, and ultimately a brutal death.

  • When an extreme sports fanatic plunges to his death from a cliff after an apparent fight, Stanhope and Ashworth begin to search for potential enemies. An estranged ex-girlfriend will shed no tears at the young man's death, but the detectives discover that someone else has been holding a grudge as well.

  • A respected surgeon is murdered and his two teenage daughters abducted, leaving a wife and mother distraught and Stanhope at a loss for a motive. Ashworth spurs his boss to look for a family link to both the killing and the kidnappings.

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