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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Honey Trap: Bacchus, in a few episodes.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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: Brutally 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"
- 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.
- 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.
- Undercover Cop Reveal: Frequent with Bacchus, who does most of the undercover work.