Saturday, May 16, 2015

Inspector George Gently - Series 7 - Gently Among Friends

My review of last week's episode: Breathe In the Air

Two weeks ago my dad bought half a dozen Lyle Lovett CDs from a sales rack. For the last few days, my listening library has consisted mostly of Lovett and Johnny Cash. Pondering over the previous episode of George Gently while listening to That's Right (You're Not From Texas) made me think of odd things. What if our heroes were transported abroad (a la Inspector Morse, in two episodes), to investigate crime in the Lone Star State?

Imagine my amusement when I found Gently and Bacchus dropped into a flashy American club with Johnny Cash playing in the background (Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Ring of Fire, to be specific). They're looking into the death of Scott Parker, a visionary who wanted to be "Mr. Newcastle" (wait, I thought this was Durham?). It looks like suicide at first: he threw himself off a bridge onto a pile of trash - but it's soon seen that he was dead before he fell. It's looking like murder.

The story begins at the birthday party of Pete Magath (Anthony Flanagan). Scott Parker gives an awkward, half-insulting, patronizing speech that clearly sets up the antagonism between the two men. Scott was a childhood friend of Pete's. The third friend, Michael Woodruff (Adrian Bower), is one of the organizers of the city-wide garbage collection strikes. I thought, for a while, that the strike would provide another opening for social commentary, but for the most part it's merely a distraction to a small interpersonal affair.

To be the first proper whodunit of the series (episode one introduced a wild card villain, and there was never much doubt who the bad guys were in episode two), it doesn't spend much time introducing alternate solutions. It was obvious that Scott, Michael, and Pete had been in a fight. The details are fuzzy, but it happened. Scott - apparently - stumbled out into the night - and was never seen again. This is questioned a bit, but there aren't really viable alternatives.

The suspect list is quite slim as well. Along with the three men are two wives: Anita Magath (Emma Cunniffe) and Jo Parker (Louise Brealey). Some of Scott's sleazy creditors are harassing Jo, who is obviously Not All There. This problem is taken care of by Bacchus's merry men. He has decided to get in touch with his previously nonexistent Robin Hood side.

Speaking of out-of-character moments, I was not buying the whole drinking sequence. Must all our detective duos bond through long, rather embarrassing drinking games? Bacchus yes. But Gently, a WWII vet with a sense of professional dignity...I just can't see it. And I tend to think he would be rather chagrined, or at least somewhat tiffed (what a British sentence this is turning out to be), when Rachel walks in on this.

In general, the characterizations in this story just feel a bit off. Perhaps this could be because it's the first episode of the series not to be written entirely by Peter Flannery. For some reason, I did not find it engaging.

One thing that was right: Taylor. It's always good to see more (if not necessarily hear more) of Taylor.

Not the most satisfying of episodes. Very little happens, really. Some nasty people are nasty and stay nasty and will continue to be nasty in the future. Bacchus asks George about his MS again, and again gets blown off. Gemma is still around (here I was thinking she'd be gone after the last episode.) Capitalists are evil, but pretty much everybody else is too, except for poor gambling Jo.

Given the lengths to which George went to crack last week's case, I find it hard to believe he'd be so sanguine about this conclusion. I'm not, as a rule, against an ending like this, but when there is so little resistance (c'mon George, you can break those two guys' stories), it feels like a letdown. Corruption! Justice averted! Oh well. 'Nother day at the office.

My review of next week's episode: Son of a Gun

Hannah Long


  1. The drinking game in this Gently has a special significance and a point though, because George has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and he, in a way, is celebrating--saying goodbye--to full control of his own body. He realizes that the remission he's been in for the last couple of days is temporary, most likely. He's also strengthening his relationship with Bacchus, which has been strained recently. It's also a pat on the head for playing nicer with Rachel.

    I mostly agree with your assessment of the episode, though. And I like your tangential start to the review!

    1. I guess that makes sense. But, to draw a comparison - it felt like something Lewis and Hathaway would do, but not Morse and Lewis. The former are more modern, the latter more old-fashioned and professional. After all, Morse and Gently are in the tradition of the gentleman detective from the last century. Or perhaps Gently would be more like Thursday, but the comparison holds.


Warning: blogger sometimes eats comments - make sure you copy your message before you post.