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Ghost Canyon

'Grantchester - The Complete Second Season'
(James Norton, Robson Green, Morven Christie, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2016 / PBS)

Overview: Adapted from book series by James Runcie; once again, alongside Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green), Cambridgeshire clergyman Sidney Chambers finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoings in his small village of Grantchester.

DVD Verdict: What a delightful TV show this truly is! It's now one year on from the first season (1954) and Sidney Chambers (James Norton, 'Happy Valley') is still the calm, peaceful vicar of Grantchester, a village just outside Cambridge, England. Sidney's is a quiet life. He tends to his flock, listens to his jazz vinyl collection, and does his best to contain his passion for beautiful heiress Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie).

That said, the ongoing conflict of hearts between them over the 6 episodes does kinda take center stage at times. But even living in such a quite place, and focusing on his duties, things are never easy. And soon Sidney and Geordie find themselves faced with a new round of mysteries, including a shocking homicide suicide with Cold War overtones, a haunted stable, and a shocking homicide investigation that will truly test the limits of their friendship.

For me, the crime stories take a back seat to one of the main plots - the relationship of Sydney and Amanda (Morven Christie). The two are long-time close friends who obviously have more than just affection for each other. Onscreen, the actors have oodles of chemistry! But, in the famous words of F. Scott Fitzgerald (or maybe just the movie), "Rich girls don't marry poor boys, Jay Gatsby." Heiress Amanda has been married off to a wealthy (and perhaps abusive) scion of business and is imprisoned in her lush life.

She and Sydney long for their former closeness, but can the two be just friends? Geordie warns Sydney that men and women can't be just friends. I guess we shall see! But the real mystery for me? What is that book the curate, Leonard Finch, is forever reading?!

Anyway, once again pushed into the dangerous world of lies, betrayal, and murder, Sidney joins forces with the overworked and weary Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green, 'Wire in the Blood'). It's the continuation of a beautiful friendship that will take Sidney and Geordie through yet another series of challenging cases; revealing the dark side of early 1950s England.

Based on acclaimed mystery novels by James Runcie, and highly reminiscent of 'Father Brown,' 'Grantchester' is a beautiful time piece, peacefully captured with vignettes of rich objects identifying a long gone world of wonderment and scenery serene to dye your soul. As Sidney works alongside Geordie, a family man who while a reluctant partner at first, warms quickly to the young, handsome minister and accepts him as a partner, he also soon discovers they share a passion - alcohol! And lots of it, for the Vicar is a complete alcoholic! Women fall at his feet, he suffers from bouts of depression, and forces himself to flashback to incidents from the war.

The episodes run a quick 45 minutes each and are a comfortable fit for an evenings viewing. I admit to enjoying British period pieces, such as 'Foyle's War' and the aforementioned 'Father Brown,' and so this show is a welcome addition to the genre. The fact that, whether it's true or not, back in the 50's the Vicar's of small Parishes were all a) drunks, b) crime solving addicts, and c) one-liner wiz's, seems to make me smile! Anyway, I gather 'Grantchester' has been renewed for a third season over there in the UK, so I have hope PBS will also pick up that season also. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Making of Grantchester
Back to Grantchester
The Trouble with Sidney and Geordie