Brenda Blethyn has wowed us on the big screen with Secrets and Lies and Saving Grace (among others,) and in the crime drama series Vera, she shines.
As Vera Stanhope, CDI of the fictional Northumbria and City Police, Blethyn gives us a complex character that is at once crusty and vulnerable. She lives alone in a seaside cottage she inherited from her father, counts as family her partner in crime-solving, Sergeant Joe Ashworth, ably portrayed by David Leon, and is completely driven by her work.
Blethyn’s appearance as Vera is ordinary and very British – a frumpily-dressed middle-aged woman. While she lives a solitary – possibly lonely – personal life, in her professional life, she commands respect. Her demeanor with victims’ families is calm and assuring, while with crime suspects she is pointed and purposeful. With her colleagues, as their boss, she takes complete charge.
Acorn Media has released Series 2 of Vera on a 4-disc set, each disc having a separate story. The generous length of each episode allows for the unfolding of intricately woven mysteries. It’s fascinating to watch the stories unravel in front of your eyes, and in the mind of a brilliant detective. As you watch, you accompany Vera and Joe as they chase down all the false leads and ferret out the facts. It is difficult not to become emotionally involved with each story’s characters and their motivations. You sympathize with, then judge, a social worker whose death Vera investigates and judge and weep with the mother who kept her heroin addict son in her pocket.
While you get the feeling that Vera is an exceptional crime solver, she isn’t showy like, say, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock series. No, she simply knows what questions to ask and what avenues to explore. In addition, side plots give an extra peek into the lives of the main characters, involving very down-to-earth problems like Vera’s health woes, her late father’s affairs, or her partner Joe’s family life. It’s a gritty and non-glamourous look at characters that are made very real.
Fans of crime drama who love to get involved will love Vera as she draws you in and evokes speculation and emotion. It’s very British and very smart.