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on January 19, 2009
We had previouly seen Martin Shaw in the "Daglish" series as one of the actors for the Commander. Very stoic and a bit unfriendly, but on the track when others didn't see it. In this series he is just as irritating but just as inciteful as ever. He has set out to retire in a small village, but remains. His Sargent is the local copper trying to get out and up in the force from the backwater. As Gently is by the old book, the sargent if a bit of however you can is alright -- ends justify the means. His unorthodox means help solve their cases, all the while Gently is caring for him and guiding him. And probably saving him! They are delightful foiles for each other. If you like "Daglish" and other British mysteries like "Lindley", Morse, Frost, etc., where there is great interplay between the inspector and the argent, you will like these.
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VINE VOICEon September 25, 2009
Quite some years ago I fell in love with British police procedurals, and among my favorite authors was Alan Hunter who created George Gently, a police sleuth in northeast England. June Thomson (Inspector Rudd), Jonathan Ross (Inspector Rogers), and W.J. Burley (Inspector Wycliffe) were turning out very good cop crime novels in those days.
Actor Martin Shaw portrays Gently in a series of English feature-length television programs. In "Bomber's Moon" Gently has to solve the murder of a German businessman whose drowned body is discovered near his sailing yacht. The German has returned to the neighborhood where he lived as a P.O.W. during World War II. Most people seem to have genuinely liked the generous German who bought drinks for the locals in their pub.
There are a number of suspects and red herrings. Just as we are convinced of the guilt of one suspect, another one pops up. It seems as if a number of people were at the scene of the crime that night.
Gently has a sergeant assistant named Bacchus who plays fast and loose with protocol. I think the filmmakers have tried to make Gently into a hardnosed and edgy character like Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse in another TV series. Morse has his conventional Sergeant Lewis as a strong secondary character, and Gently has the more confrontational and dodgier Bacchus as his sidekick.
"Bomber's Moon" is well-done, gripping, suspenseful, and very well-acted. All of the suspects and other roles are portrayed by strong actors, and the viewer gets the feeling of real personalities and real backstories in these subsidiary characters. The production rises above its detective series origin and deals with human problems in an intense way. An interesting device is used: as witnesses/suspects are recounting their stories, the director uses reenactments (like flashbacks) for visualization of the stories.
The time period is the mid-sixties with WWII not that far in the past. The outdoor shots of Northumberland are telling. You may find the Gently books are out-of-print in the States, but they are well worth finding. They're entertaining reading.
In due time I'll supply reviews of the other two dramas in the package.
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on October 15, 2008
This was a thoroughly enjoyable drama with a great cast. I especially liked Martin Shaw (who has aged very well) who plays the title role of George Gently, and "Robin Hood" star Richard Armitage as the charismatic and ambiguous biker Ricky Deeming. Also of note is Lee Ingleby as Gently's young (and brash) partner.

The dramatization apparently takes a few liberties with the original novel (I daresay might be a little more politically correct) but holds its own and is full of twists and turns. It holds the period flavor (early '60s) well. Worth a look, especially if you're a fan of any of the lead stars.
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on June 1, 2009
If you like Foyle's War, you will like the George Gently series. I am truly hooked on both. George Gently, whose wife has just been murdered in what appears to be a British gangland revenge hit, removes from London to rural Northumberland. He encounters the cocky, intuitively brilliant and slightly tarnished DS John Bacchus, who may have scored his rank by marrying the chief inspector's daughter.

These are truly hard boiled detective stories, and they get a little bit detailed, so you do have to pay attention. Then again, the cast of characters are rich, complex, perfectly acted, and truly memorable, in the model of hardboiled fiction. It's a joy to see Gently's perfect ethics kick into play as he faces the temptations of bribes and seduction. I like good guys, and George Gently is a slightly more granite and chiseled version of Foyle from FOYLE'S WAR.

Bacchus, on the other hand, needs a strong hand to rein him in. Then again, grasping, materialistic, and enticed by the easy stepping stones of corruption, John Bacchus also amazes and pleases the reader (and Gently) with the occasional act of brilliance, and every now and then a truly heroic and completely confident act of police finesse. It's this interplay of Gently mentoring Bacchus and yet Bacchus coming back with truly valuable contributions to their efforts that truly engage you and make you feel like these are stories worth watching.

Every detail of the 60's is lovingly crafted into the stories. There is a lot of visual beauty and reminders of that decade of such change and turmoil.
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on January 11, 2009
I ordered this series because Martin Shaw was portraying the main character> I thought he was outstanding as Adam Dagleish and I have found that he is equally superb in this series. Would like to see more of his work formatted for American TV.
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"George Gently: Series 1" is a television series of British mysteries/police procedurals that debuted in the United Kingdom on BBC1 in April 2007, and debuted on DVD, in the United States, in November 2008. The series is set in Northeast Britain, Geordie country, in the 1960's. It stars respected, award-winning actor Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed: Season One & Pilot Episode) as Commander George Gently, and is based on the long-running series of detective novels by Alan Hunter. It has been compared to Foyle's War: Series 1-5 - From Dunkirk to VE-Day; and Midsomer Murders: Set 16, for its combination of clever writing, stylish direction, and strong casts. It comes in a boxed set that includes the series' first three feature-length episodes, running approximately 88 minutes each, for a total of 265 min.; a text interview with, and biography of its star, Martin Shaw; and, thank goodness, subtitles, as Geordie-speak falls hard upon American ears.

Gently is an inconveniently incorruptible top cop, disliked almost as much by his colleagues as by criminal elements, and, therefore, bounces from Scotland Yard to Northumbria. There he finds an unexpected ally in ambitious young Sergeant John Bacchus, an overeager, opinionated young man who tends to play fast and loose with police procedures, a part played by Lee Ingleby (Nicholas Nickleby). Guest stars in Series 1 include Richard Armitage (Robin Hood: Season One); Phil Davis (Vera Drake); and John Kavanaugh (The Tudors - The Complete First Season).

The well-written, absorbing mysteries unfold against a beautiful backdrop we're meant to think is rural Britain, though as the series was partly financed by the Irish Film Board, I wonder if we aren't looking at beautiful rural Ireland. Characters discuss the famous Hadrian's Wall that runs across Northumbria, and was built by the Romans during their pre-Christian era occupation of Britain, to keep those wild and wooly Scots out, but we never actually see it. No matter, the entertainment has lovely backdrops, and is nicely filmed. The BBC has clearly thrown money at the screen - there are excellent supporting casts, extras aplenty, and the characters' clothing and cars are appropriate to the era, when Britain was just beginning to think about shaking off its post-war deprivation and depression, and London was -possibly--just beginning to dream about swinging a bit. None of this had reached the Northeast yet, of course - and, I can't help but wonder, did it ever? Never mind.

The mysteries are:
"Gently Go Man." Gently's wife is killed in a hit-and-run accident; he reacts with bitterness, plans to take his pension, and retire somewhere to fish. Until he discovers that Joe Webster, (played particularly strongly by Phil Davis), the sadistic criminal whom Gently believes is behind his wife's murder, has been seen in Northumbria. Gently follows Webster there, and finds himself facing murders in a local motorcycle gang; also that his incorruptible reputation has preceded him, and is making the local cop shop quite uncomfortable.

"The Burning Man." A body is found in a local wooded area, shot once through the head, then burned beyond recognition. Only clue: gold ring engraved "Wanda," found in the victim's stomach. An emotionally satisfying, complex plot, dealing with IRA gunrunners and a disreputable man named Empton from the Criminal Investigation Department's Special Branch who's suddenly on the scene. Features some strong local women, too, dissatisfied with their pre-ordained roles in life.

"Bomber's Moon." Gunter Schmeikel, a German bomber pilot who was shot down during the war, and billeted locally with a friendly pig-farming family, returns to visit. He's a fun-living, very successful businessman now, but he's got a dark side. And his body is fished out of the harbor. The detectives find anti-German feeling still strong locally and Schmeikel's cold and arrogant son hard to handle. If you've read down this far in the reviews, you've likely seen that a number of reviewers have taken strong exception to a very brief scene, of an eyeball, in this episode. Frankly, I didn't find it "euuw"-making: the scene, like the rest of the series, is not, to me, bloody, gory, or unduly violent.

These are complex plots, driven by vivid characters - and strong women--and I found them quite gripping. Shaw plays the title character as a man of gravitas, and an insightful detective. The 60's setting was a little problematic to me, as the quality of the film work was so obviously top-notch modern that, until and unless I was caught short by a brief scene of people smoking where they ought not to today, or heard a price given in the old money, pounds, shillings and pence, I really kept forgetting the series' historic setting. A minor quibble, to be sure.
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on July 19, 2009
I was reluctant to watch this series. The lead, Martin Shaw, seemed downright dull, and the supporting lead, Lee Ingleby, was embeded in my memory either as the doomed Midshipman Hollom from "Master and Commander" or as the sickly Smike from "Nicholas Nickleby"...neither actor a great candidate for an exciting copper role; or so I thought...

Well, I am glad I gave the series a go! Shaw turned out to be wanderfully charismatic as the straight-laced, by the book Scotland Yard transplant to the far North; Ingleby was well matched to the role of his well meaning, but rather naive and easily manipulated provincial sergeant... What a delight it was to watch Shaw's character fight for the "soul" of his protege and bring him from the verge of corruption, often with little or no cooperation from the young lad! Add clever plots and flawless execution, and you've got yourself a winner!

Each of the three episodes was 90 minutes long. The show was set in the early 60's, but the era remained in the background and did not overwhelm the action. The stories were the key element in each show. There were four more episodes shown this summer on British TV. I am now a fan and can hardly wait to see them!
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on September 28, 2011
After witnessing his wife's murder, Commander George Gently abruptly resigns his very senior position with the London Metropolitan Police Force. Now a DCI, we find him in the somewhat gritty port city of Durham, Northumberland. How he recieved the demotion and the change in venue is not clearly established, but the viewer understands why immediately. The DCI rank allows Gently to take a much more active part in any investigation, and perhaps more importantly, the man he suspects of his wife's murder is known to have a base of operations in Northumberland. Gently's partner DS Bacchus is much younger and light-years less experienced than Gently, and his youthful vigor admittedly clashes with Gently's more patient investigatory style. This creates a complex yet still enjoyable relationship between the two men.
The entire series is based in the mid 1960's, and to great effect. All involved have accomplished much in bringing the viewer to a very specific time and place. Although filmed in Ireland, the cars, hairstyles, fashions, and emerging 1960's attitudes bring us directly to Northumberland, England ca. 1964.
The entire series is beautifully realized. Every story is interesting and rings true regarding police procedure and being true to the period. Both lead actors are most impressive, particularly Martin Shaw as DCI Gently, who brings a quiet yet smoldering intensity to his role. Picture and sound quality are spot-on. I own the entire series, hoping for production to continue. George Gently certainly deserves a place next to other first-rate police procedurals such as Morse, Frost, Prime Suspect and the like.
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on September 30, 2012
This is an excellent series. I found it through Acorn, but I'm happy to see Amazon is carrying the DVDs now. It's the mid-1960s. Martin Shaw plays a widowed Inspector who "cut his teeth" in London but has relocated (by desire) to the Northeast of England. You don't get an insight to his character outside his workplace, but Martin Shaw is an excellent actor who shares enough facets of George Gently to keep even those people who don't like "by the book" procedurals quite entertained. The actor who plays Detective Sgt Backus is also great, although we find out more about him and his private life in the shows. The mysteries themselves are good, the characters are all awesome, the production level is movie quality and I just have to recommend them. There aren't Hollywood happy-ever-after endings, but that's usual in British crime shows...and yes, it's dark but it's also soft, innocent and original.
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on July 8, 2014
Series One was so good that I ordered Series Two. The UK does a good job with their crime/drama story lines. If you like crime stories without all the sex and gore, I recommend giving George Gently a try.
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