What the dickens? Could there be another new must-watch mystery series? Yes indeed! Grantchester is the latest addition to the Masterpiece Mystery family (airing on PBS) and it is well worth checking out.
Based on the successful Sidney Chambers mysteries by James Runcie, Grantchester is a pure delight to watch. Starring James Norton and the always-excellent Robson Green as the vicar and his policeman sidekick respectively, this series definitely fits the cozy mold. Set in the quaint village of Grantchester during the 1950’s, the show is also perfect for fans who love period details and costumes.
The first season of Grantchester is based on the debut novel in the series, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. Since the book is more of a collection of short stories featuring recurring characters, the television series follows the same format. Each hour-long episode is dedicated to one case that Sidney and Geordie must solve. As one would expect, the mysteries contained within have various levels of complexity, but they are nevertheless entertaining.
Cozy does not, however, imply a lack of character depth. Sidney, in particular, seems to be a well-rounded character who will only become more complex as audiences get to know him. Sidney’s faith is very important to him, but it also has the added benefit of attracting the ladies. In just two episodes of the series, Sidney already has two potential love interests – one a long-time friend and the other a suspect in a crime – both of whom are ultimately unobtainable. Sidney is also grappling with some PTSD issues resulting from his war service and these problems are sure to cause trouble for him in the future.
The secondary characters are also fully developed. Sidney’s crime-solving “partner,” Geordie is both in awe of and annoyed by Sidney’s meddling. Mrs. Maguire, the vicar’s landlady, embodies the perfect blend of motherly influence and voice of reason/reality for Sidney. Amanda Kendall, Sidney’s soul mate who just happens to be engaged to another, provides the necessary internal struggle that Sidney needs in order to not seem too “perfect.” And who can forget the cutest dog on television – Dickens the black Labrador.
It appears that each episode will end with Sidney sermonizing to his congregation on a topic drawn from that week’s crime. In another series, this might seem contrived and corny, but somehow, Grantchester makes it work. Currently airing on Sunday evenings, crime fiction fans should check out this new addition to the visual canon.