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Vera: Set 2

Release Year:         2011
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         4/ 4
Running Time:         Approx. 370 minutes
DVD Release Date:         November 6, 2012
Creators:         Ann Cleves
Actors:         Brenda Blethyn, David Leon, Paul Ritter, Jon Morrison
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         9/10

Acorn Media Write-up:    
Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn (“Pride & Prejudice”, “Secrets & Lies”) returns as Vera Stanhope–a police detective with a disheveled exterior, a sharp tongue, and an uncanny ability to solve crimes. Tough, dedicated, and more than a little irreverent, DCI Stanhope is assisted by her long-suffering sergeant, Joe Ashworth (David Leon, “RocknRolla”); DC Kenny Lockhart (Jon Morrison, “High Times”); and forensic pathologist Billy Cartwright (Paul Ritter, “The Eagle”).

Inspired by Ann Cleeve’s bestselling mysteries, Vera is set in the Northumberland of the original books. In four new feature-length dramas, Stanhope delves into a world of shadows and suppressed passions where everyone has something to hide. Guest stars include Rose Leslie (“Game of Thrones”), Julie Graham (“Bonekickers”), Phyllis Logan (“Downton Abbey”), and Judy Parfitt (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”).

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
The brilliant Brenda Blethyn is back in four more feature-length episodes of VERA.

The first series left me a bit disappointed but this time around the mix of character study and police drama works exceptionally well. It’s a safe bet that while some stars have it written into their contracts to keep their wardrobe, Ms Blethyn is more likely to have a clause stipulating that her clothes must be burned at the conclusion of the series!

Dressing like a frump, however, is a stark contrast to the brilliant policing mind that Vera possesses and is quite an amusing contrast to her professionalism.

The first episode begins with Vera having a bit of a health scare. Perhaps this contributes to her being a little less abrasive than in Series One. Her struggles to come to terms with a less stressful lifestyle and a severely altered diet provide some of the show’s humour and helps make Vera a more vulnerable character, thus upping the likeability factor. This is crucial, as she was a bit too cranky for her own good the first time around.

The cinematography continues to be first class and the storylines are well-plotted.  Several landscapes look like paintings they are so beautiful, and yet they are never intrusive, rather creating the effect of subtle irony that such terrible things as murder could happen in places that are so picturesque.

Definitely possessing a more matronly tone in this series, Vera must cope with the loss of two colleagues in the first episode. This has the effect of deepening her maternal/mentor relationship with her Sergeant, Joe Ashworth, played by David Leon. It’s an interesting relationship and we come to care about their future together. Leon has the opportunity to undertake a very heroic and dangerous rescue in the second episode and Vera’s worry as she witnesses it is palpable.

Episode three, involving the suicide (or is it murder?) of a veteran of the war in Afghanistan continues the high standards set by episodes one and two. But episode four is especially intriguing as it reveals some tidbits about Vera’s life that illuminate her character. Her relationship with her trusted Sergeant also deepens.

VERA has been commissioned for a third series, so fans of the show have much to look forward to. As Acorn Media continues to grow as a major distributor of quality programming, VERA can most definitely be counted as another feather in their cap.