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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
4 Seasons, 16 Episodes
Drama
8.4/10
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Vera Full Episode Guide

  • Was the dead body found in a local river a case of suicide or murder? The victim was a successful businessman who was supposed to be on a business trip to Dublin.

  • Two local poachers are shot at and their truck torchedâ€"while less than a mile away, a man recently returned to the area is killed with a single round from a hunting rifle.

  • When a young man is beaten to death along the seafront at a popular resort, Stanhope wonders why he was there rather than at his father’s retirement party.

  • Stanhope investigates the stabbing death of a senior citizen aboard a crowded rush-hour train-and learns that the chief witness to the woman’s killing is Ashworth’s young daughter.

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