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George Gently: Series 4

Release Year:         2011
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         2/2
Running Time:         178 minutes + bonus material
DVD Release Date:         July 3, 2012
Creators:         Peter Flannery
Actors:         Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby, Simon Hubbard, Melanie Clark Pullen
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         10/10

Acorn Media Write-up:  
An upstanding detective takes on a dangerous world in 1960s England.

Likened to “Foyle’s War” and “Midsomer Murders”, GEORGE GENTLY: SERIES 4 debuts on DVD from Acorn. Award-winning actor Martin Shaw (“Death to Holy Orders”, “Judge John Deed”) is back as Inspector George Gently in these two feature-length mysteries based on the long-running series of novels by Alan Hunter. Shot in stunning high-definition, these powerful dramas boast clever writing, stylish direction, and strong casts and unfold against the beautiful backdrop of rural Britain during the tumultuous 1960s. GEORGE GENTLY premiered in the UK on BBC1 in April 2007 and has run for four series, with a fifth series in production.

Tony nominee Martin Shaw is back as Inspector George Gently, a by-the-book cop from London now working in the North East of England. This corner of the country is just starting to experience the social changes sweeping the rest of 1960s Britain, but the former Scotland Yard detective finds that crime occurs here the same as anywhere else. In his meticulous manner, Gently examines the passions and planning that lead to murder, his methods more often than not offset by those of his cocky young sidekick, Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby, “A Place of Execution”).

In these two mysteries, Gently and Bacchus investigate the suspicious death on an ex-informant facing a seemingly hopeless future, as well as the murder of a young woman poised on the brink of an exciting new chapter in her life.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:   
Each new release of GEORGE GENTLY (known as ”Inspector George Gently” in the UK) is met with a sigh of gratitude from this reviewer. It’s simply one of the best police dramas currently in production. The stories are complex and literate, the acting is superb and the attention to period detail (the show is set in the 1960s) is impeccable.

The central relationship between Martin Shaw’s George Gently and Lee Ingleby’s John Bacchus is by turns fatherly, professional, warm, stern and humourous and is always at the heart of each episode. It is through Bacchus that we glimpse George Gently the very private man, whose grief over the death of his wife — which prompted his move to the north of England from London at the start of the series — is omnipresent in Shaw’s wonderful, world-weary demeanour. The two (yes, alas, only two) episodes that comprise Series 4 of GEORGE GENTLY are both excellent and continue to meet the expectations of discerning viewers who have enjoyed the earlier shows.

The episode “Goodbye China” is especially good, with an outstanding performance by Tony Rohr as China, Gently’s frequent supplier of street information whose struggle with alcoholism is a central plot point. Martin Shaw, a teetotaler in real life, could no doubt relate to the vice of excessive drinking. Although he has never been an alcoholic, a drunken brawl in Shaw’s youth resulted in severe facial injuries involving reconstructive surgery. While this incident never impacts the show, it is always interesting to ponder how such experiences can affect or influence a performer’s personal reaction to scripts and the characters they play.

It would be easy to say that the whole series is raised to an unsurpassed level of accomplishment solely because of Shaw, but this would be a disservice to the other fine elements that contribute to making GEORGE GENTLY a series not to be missed. Lee Ingleby, while relatively young, simply embodies his role as a mid-sixties young man, whose wardrobe and hairstyle give the show much of its dash and period flavour. Even minor roles are played to perfection in this series, which truly is something. There is never a false note on GEORGE GENTLY, perhaps because there have been so relatively few episodes produced thus far. With each one running 90 minutes, there is a lot to consider in getting things right. GEORGE GENTLY is every bit the equal of that other superb period program FOYLE’S WAR in this regard.

Savour these episodes. They will have to tide you over until the release — hopefully soon — of Series 5, which is about to be broadcast in the UK at the time of this writing and shouldn’t be too long in finding its way over to North America. What’s really exciting about this new series is that there are four episodes this time around.

Meantime, the two episodes of Series 4 will help us all “go Gently into that good night,” to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, a literary reference not out of place with the fine writing of the GEORGE GENTLY series.