Series: Inspector George Gently

British Crime and Punishment Series starring Martin Shaw.

Based on the 1960s novels by Alan Hunter, but moving the setting from Norfolk to Northumberland and County Durham, this crime series set in The Sixties involves two detectives, Detective Chief Inspector George Gently and his trusty sidekick Detective Sergeant John Bacchus.

The 2007 pilot and 2008 first season (just called George Gently) were rather dark affairs. The second season is somewhat lighter in tone- the stories are still fairly dark, but there are new "Sixties-style" opening titles and more comedy.

Not too bad, but 90-minute stories with no ad-breaks do have an inherent dragging tendency.

Tropes:

  • Always Murder: Averted.
    • In "Gently Northern Soul", the death turns out to be accidental, but the assumption that it was murder brings its own repercussions.
    • "Breathe in the Air" revolves around an apparent suicide which for once actually turns out to be a suicide, and a case of corruption which contributes to several deaths - but not an actual murder.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gently Northern Soul. George and Joseph Kenny persuade Ambrose not to kill Bernie, and it's pretty clear that the actual killer will be charged for what he's done. However, at the end of the episode we see a racist old lady hanging up a union jack flag, showing that while the potential race riots have been averted the prejudice still lingers.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: In "Gently Northern Soul."
  • Bribe Backfire: In the episode "Bomber's Moon", a German businessman tries to bribe Sgt. Bacchus. Bacchus accepts the bribe so he will have the evidence to arrest him.
  • British Brevity: 15 episodes so far
  • British Laws: One plot involves a woman having an abortion - illegal in 1964 - after being raped and mentions that only married women could be prescribed the pill then.
  • Break the Haughty: the racist dad in Gently Northern Soul looses both his sons when his attitude poisons them against each other, and in the end it's only because a black man who had every reason to hate him persuaded his would be killer to stand down that he's alive.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Gently is introduced as a bitter, vengeful cop who won't rest until his wife's murder is solved. The dynamic is turned on its head when he meets Bacchus, a diminutive hothead who seemingly became a cop as an excuse to yell at people.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Played with. Gently knows when to play along with rules and when to show his hand. Bacchus is a Rabid Cop in the making.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Series 5 was pretty damn grim - a Downer Ending every episode, and the Season Finale ends with Gently and Bacchus both lying on the floor of Durham Cathedral, having both been shot in the gut, with no help on the way.
  • Death by Falling Over: This is how the Body of the Week in "Blue for Bluebird" was killed; falling backwards and hitting her head on the edge of a table.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: One episode features a club called "Rakes", with "Fox Girls".
  • Gay Bar Reveal: In the episode "Peace & Love", Gently and Bacchus call in at a bar recently visited by the murder victim whose movements they're tracing. Bacchus is increasingly discomfited as the nature of the place dawns on him, and then indignant when he finds out that Gently had suspected it before they went in and hadn't bothered to say anything.
  • Going by the Matchbook: In the episode "Peace & Love", the murder victim has a matchbook from a particular bar in his pocket. Played with slightly, in that the barman remembers him even though he only went there once because he swiped all the matchbooks.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Bacchus probably has a chip on both shoulders he hates people cleverer and richer than him as well as hating people more stupid and poorer than him! Consequently he loves using his badge to impress/terrify people he's met throughout his childhood.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After attempting to blackmail a reluctant associate into reconditioning more guns for him, the particularly nasty gang leader in "Son of a Gun" attempts to shoot him with an unfinished gun - which literally backfires on him.
  • Honey Trap: Bacchus in a few episodes, and Coles in "Son of a Gun".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In keeping with the original novels, most episodes (even those not based on a novel) are named along the lines of "Gently Goes ____", "Gently With ____", "Gently in the ____" etc.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In "The Burning Man", Commander Empton of Special Branch lays a beatdown on a suspect inspected of being involved with the IRA, to Gently's obvious disgust.
  • Jerkass: The fact that Bacchus often reflects the prejudices of his era is unfortunate but understandable. The fact that he frequently takes every opportunity to be a complete tool about it, less so. He's not without his better side, though.
  • Knight Templar Parent: The episode "Goodbye China" revolves around the actions of one. After the title character is inadvertently murdered by a mentally retarded child when trying to save him from a mugging, his father finds the two culprits and tortures and intentionally breaks them to prevent them from speaking of the incident. One is Driven to Suicide and the other is a Nervous Wreck. As Gently arrests him, the father vows he will never be remorseful for what has happened and even pleas for his silence in fear his son will be sent to a mental institution upon his arrest (which are even less cushy in the fifties).
  • Location Doubling: The show is filmed in Ireland, partly for tax reasons, partly for lack of suitable architecture.
  • Never Suicide: In "Gently with Honour", Gently and Bacchus return to a psychiatrist with a warrant for the medical files of one his patients and find the psychiatrist hanged; an apparent suicide. Gently's suspicions are immediately raised, especially when he finds the medical file he was after is missing. It is later discovered that the psychiatrist's neck had been snapped and he was then strung up to make it look like he hanged himself.
    • Averted in "Breathe in the Air" where the Body of the Week really is a suicide, and the discovery of why she killed herself reveals another crime altogether.
  • New Year Has Come: In "Son of a Gun", the perpetrator is apprehended just before midnight on 31 December 1969.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Wanda Lane dons a merry widow and fishnet stockings when she attempts to seduce Gently in "The Burning Man".
  • Officially Shortened Title: Inverted. The show started as George Gently before expanding to Inspector George Gently.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Gently and Bacchus.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Gently's accent wanders considerably.
  • Politically Correct History: Subverted. Gently is enlightened on manners of race sexuality and gender, but it's made painfully clear that many other people don't share his views. Made particularly clear in Gently Northern Soul, which takes place around the same time as Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood Speech. A female landlady actively has a "No blacks allowed" sign, while several of the policemen actively agree with Enoch Powell's speech.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Done deliberately with Bacchus, in contrast to Gently's more inclusive personal doctrine.
    • He does undergo some character development in Gently Norther Soul (he does develop a sense of empathy for the black community whereas before he just saw the victim as an "exotic".
    • Bacchus is also extremely dismissive of Gently's young protege Rachel Coles, insisting that women have no place in the force generally, and in CID in particular. He opposes Coles being made Acting Sergeant and it's only once he gets his own promotion to Inspector that he starts to see her as less of a threat and begins to accept her as a capable detective.
  • Porn Names: This is both used and subverted when Gently and Bacchus are investigating a casino with "Fox Girls". The murder victim's real name was Audrey Chadwick. However, she was using the name "Blaise" for working purposes. Not Modesty Blaise, as "she doesn't have any modesty". However, Fawn Granger, her best friend, was using her real name.
  • Scooter-Riding Mod: The rivalry between Mods and Rockers featured prominently in one episode.
  • Shotgun Wedding: How Bacchus ended up marrying his wife.
  • Shout-Out: The references to "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" by Frank Wilson in "Gently Northern Soul" are clearly an in-joke for northern soul fans, since anybody who knows of the record in question (latterly the most valuable record ever sold at auction) would be well aware of its rarity and that there is no way a girl in Durham in 1968 would own a copy. Given Bacchus' response to the soul club in this episode, one has to suspect a case of Writer on Board.
  • The Sixties: 1964 to begin with, but moves on roughly in real time just as the books do, and reaches The '70s at the end of season 7. The meaningful date of 1 January 1970 is when Rachel Coles' promotion to Detective Sergeant becomes official.
  • Surprise Incest: "Gently Going Under" features a half-siblings version. The girl's father had an affair with the boy's mother while her husband was away at the war. When the relationship is discovered, the father tries to move away and take the daughter with him but she is already pregnant. The boy's mother tells her the truth, causing her to attempt to abort the child.
  • Time-Delayed Death: In "Gently Between the Lines", a prisoner who died in the cells actually succumbed to liver damage sustained in a beating he received before he was arrested.
  • Twisted Christmas: "Son of a Gun" begins on Christmas Eve and ends on New Year's Day. Gently, Bacchus and Coles spend much of Christmas Day itself doing a street-by-street search for an abandoned getaway car, and find it - complete with the gruesomely-mangled corpse of the driver.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Frequent with Bacchus, who does most of the undercover work.