Series 2 of Happy Valley is over on BBC One, and has been available on Netflix and iTunes for several days. I assume those interested in the show have taken the time needed to watch all 6 episodes either in the UK or in the US.
Happy Valley S2 E3 begins with Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) talking to a therapist (David Crellin). She either has to get help or retire. Catherine chooses to fill the silence in the therapist’s office with shite.
Happy Valley S2 E2 has a few laughs, a couple of funerals, and a mess of disasters that will tangle future episodes. I’ll keep the review as brief and spoiler free as possible, but there are some spoilers.
With this short note, Twitter carried the announcement of the beginning of filming for season 2 of the BBC drama Happy Valley. The 6 episode season again stars Sarah Lancashire as police sergeant Catherine Cawood. Returning are James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce and Charlie Murphy as Ann Gallagher. George Costigan is back as Nevison Gallagher with Karl Davies returning as Catherine’s son Daniel. Siobhan Finneran returns as Catherine’s sister Clare.
Even though the murderer, rapist and kidnapper Tommy Lee Royce is in prison in season 2, he remains part of the story. The police in The Calder Valley in West Yorkshire have other problems as well. The plot description for season 2 is, “Catherine suspects there may be another serial killer on the loose and makes a gruesome discovery that will have shocking repercussions for her and her family.”
Joining the cast are Kevin Doyle, Katherine Kelly, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Shirley Henderson, Amelia Bullmore, Matthew Lewis, Con O’Neill, and Vincent Franklin.
Happy Valley has been nominated for or won over 30 awards, including Best Drama Series award at the 2015 BAFTAs with writer Sally Wainwright named Best Writer at the 2015 BAFTA Craft Awards. Plus it earns my personal award for being freakin’ fantastic.
Scott & Bailey is a British detective series from iTV. It’s run for 5 seasons. It makes its way across the pond to American TV on PBS. Some local PBS stations may have episodes you can watch right now, but it depends on your locality. You’ll also find every episode available on YouTube.
There are so many things about Scott & Bailey that I really enjoyed, a list seems in order.
1. The Main Characters are Women
Suranne Jones is DC Rachel Bailey, Lesley Sharp is DC Janet Scott, and their boss is Amelia Bullmore as DCI Gill Murray. There are a lot of men in the police department and in the women’s lives, but the police procedural stories which form the bulk of the drama are the cases that Scott and Bailey take the lead on.
Janet Scott, Rachel Bailey, and Gill Murray are real women. Smart, tough, dedicated and thoroughly flawed. Scott and Bailey are great friends and understand each other very well.
In the flaw department, Bailey excels completely, to the dismay of her co-workers and to the detriment of her personal relationships. She makes up for it by being a brilliant detective. She has an older sister who helped raise her, a younger brother just out of prison, and a horrifyingly awful mom. Alison, the older sister, is played by Sally Lindsay who is also one of the writers on the series.
Scott is a bit older, with a husband, teen aged daughters, and a mom who is around a lot. She’s unflappable and efficient, but does manage to have a few issues of interest going on in her personal life.
Bailey calls the boss “Godzilla” but she’s one of the best bosses I’ve seen. Like Scott & Bailey, Gill Murray is a brilliant detective. She’s also capable of leading a large team of investigators straight in to a confusing morass of information and bringing them out with an answer.
2. The Writers!
The series was written mainly by Sally Wainwright and Diane Taylor. You may know other shows that Sally Wainwright has done, especially Last Tango in Halifax. Diane Taylor also acted as producer and police consultant on the series. Other writing credits go to Sally Lindsay, Suranne Jones, Amelia Bullmore and Nicole Taylor.
Nobody had to remind these writers to write “strong female characters.” They couldn’t do it any other way. They’ve created some of the most interesting women on television.
3. The Guest Stars
It may take more than one episode to solve a crime, which means a major guest star may be around for several episodes. Kevin Doyle, Mr. Molesley from Downton Abbey, is there for several episodes while he’s under investigation for a series of crimes. Josh Bolt, Raff from Last Tango in Halifax, was on one episode with a wild head of hair and a bad attitude.
Joe Bevan’s (George Costigan) nasty crimes took several episodes to investigate. Costigan made his character so creepy. It was masterfully done. (If you’ve seen Sally Wainwright’s drama Happy Valley, you can see Costigan in a much different role.) Helping the police with that investigation was his troubled and abused daughter Helen, played by Nicola Walker, who also worked on Last Tango in Halifax.
4. The British Style of Policing
A police procedural is such a common genre, but the British do it in their own way and it’s a refreshing change from American shows like Castle or Bones. Not that I don’t enjoy Castle and Bones or any other American police procedural like Rizzoli and Isles. But the style of inquiry, the method of interrogation, the lack of guns, and the calm attitude of the police toward the people under investigation is a window into how it can be done with less violence.
5. Great Performances
The acting is top notch from everyone in the series. There are many characters I haven’t mentioned who are played to perfection. The lead characters are excellently acted, completely real and believable. The show has an all-round outstanding cast. Nicholas Gleaves is terrific as DC Andy Roper, Tony Pitts is fabulous as Janet Scott’s husband, Liam Boyle is excellent as Rachel Bailey’s brother, Sean Maguire does a wonderful turn as Rachel’s mistreated love interest.
You might enjoy watching a few short promos and trailers for some of the shows and seasons. It will give you a glimpse of the characters in action. If you have seen the series, I’d love to hear your reactions to it in the comments.