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Ghost Canyon

'Vera - Set 2'
(Brenda Blethyn, David Leon, Jon Morrison, Paul Ritter, et al / 4-Disc / NR / 2012 / Acorn Media)

Overview: Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn (Pride & Prejudice) returns as Vera Stanhope — a police detective with a disheveled exterior, a sharp tongue, and an uncanny ability to solve crimes.

DVD Verdict: In truth, the first season of this rather-realstic, gritty UK TV show went under my radar - completely! Even if I'd have heard its name mentioned in passing, 'Vera,' I'd have assumed it was some period piece in which elaborate costumes were the eye candy on display. And so not my cup o' tea, in general!

But I would have been so wrong! 'Vera,' now here in Set 2 stars the always-indepth Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope, a disheveled police detective (both at home and at work) who along with her razor wit and slight of hand comebacks, manages to solve some horrible crimes. All in the deep, dark, depressing (trust me, I've been there!) Northumberland hills and general surroundings.

If you didn't know, 'Vera' is inspired by author Ann Cleeves’s bestselling mysteries. And here in Set 2 we get four new, and truly captivating feature-length dramas. In the first 90 minute episode, 'The Ghost Position,' Vera's former colleague Sgt. Stuart Macken (Steven Hartley) kills himself after his house is fire-bombed, leaving his daughter Stella (Jessica Barden) in a coma. Given that Macken never got over his wife, Marianne (Julie Graham) leaving him for (and subsequently marrying) Brian Gower (Ron Cook), and the fact that a restraining order had also been filed by the married couple, Gower has now become the prime suspect. And just to add pepper to the salt, other men that Macken arrested along the way are put under the microscope. Come the end, it's the one they all forgot about, Stella that holds the secrets.

In the second episode, 'Silent Voices,' a Social Worker, Jenny Lister (Stephanie Carey) is murdered whilst at a local gym's sauna. A random killing? Well, it doesn't look like it as just two years earlier she had been exonerated following the case of Mattie Jones. Seemingly Jones (Emma Rydal) had drowned her own baby son. But, her friend Connie Masters (Kaye Wragga) was blamed at the time and her life subsequently ruined because of it. It then turns out Lister was writing a book about some of Vera's cases, including Mattie. So, her link to the past grows, especially when her laptop containing the book draft is stolen. In truth, it all gets a bid muddled in the last third, with new suspects being introduced like we should have known they existed in the first place! Plus other things about Lister suddenly come to light, such as an affair she was having, but once the laptop is discovered, well, all the clues to help solve the case are found on it.

In the third episode, 'Sandancers,' Private Ollie Barton (Ben Aldridge) is blown up by an improvised explosive device. Returning home from Afghanistan, his regiment (known as the Sandancers of the title), return home. But after the suspicious death of Staff Sgt. 'Dev' Deverson Vera and Joe are asked to investigate. Especially as Deverson had also been awarded the Military Cross for saving the rest of his men after Barton's death. As things progress, MP Captain Shepherd (Clare Calbraith) is either helping or hindering, but either it's clear she resents civilian interference in the military case. And, not to give anything away, as towards the end all hell breaks loose re: red herrings and admissions, but someone admits to killing Barton, something tragic then happens, and then the big reveal actually does come as a surprise!

In the fourth and final episode, 'A Certain Samaritan,' Vera investigates the murder of young Niall Coulter (Charles Ramsay). He had fallen from an overpass onto a lorry - which then ended up in Portsmouth; allowing the body to then be found! An accident? Well, various people such as his employer Marty (John McArdle) and his own mother Shirley Coulter (acting stalewart Phyllis Logan) all claim that he was just perfect as a human being. But Shirley is dealing with her own issues and it's those issues that come to the surface sooner rather than later. As the episode unravels, it turns out that Niall had money in his wallet and traces of heroin in his blood.

All this and Vera has to deal with her past, each and every case. It seems Vera's dead father continues to plague her - even during these murder investigations - but in this fourth episode DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon) actually gives Vera the address of her father's old lover. Maybe she can get some fresh answers to some old questions from her? Well, check out this brilliant Set 2 of 'Vera' to find out for yourself. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but sadly do not come with any Special Features.