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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Grantchester - The Complete Fifth Season'
(Robson Green, Tom Brittney, Al Weaver, Tessa Peake-Jones, Kacey Ainsworth, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: It's 1957, and Reverend Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) has settled into his role as vicar in idyllic Grantchester.

But as local DI Geordie Keating (Robson Green) knows, every Eden has its snakes—and there's darkness lurking in their corner of Cambridgeshire.

DVD Verdict: 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.

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!

James Norton played the crime-solving vicar in question for four seasons before this fifth one, and as I loved the way Norton portrayed his character, I was skeptical about the series continuing when he made the decision to leave.

However, that skepticism slowly faded as season four unfolded with Tom Brittney stepping up to the proverbial pulpit (in the unfolding episodes) and with season five the skepticism is completely gone.

With characters as irresistibly likable as this, it's understandable that change could bring some bitterness to an avid viewer. When you start to deviate from the natural progression of characters, it betrays everything audience members liked about the story to begin with.

If it wasn't for the way the show has progressed, I would speak more highly of the show and sure, although I can understand the reasons for change, it is still frustrating in the way it was handled.

Anyhoo, I'm happy it is continuing; however, and I was eager to see what is in store for the seasons to come. And here in the fifth season, yes, even the new vicar is now found helping his friend, a local cop, solve murders!

I mean, why not! But the whole thing is never really very dark, for the cinematography is colorful, the little community around the new vicar is warm and friendly, and the viewer feels instantly drawn to the stories as they unfold.

Indeed if Poirot had a handsome younger brother, it would be newcomer Vicar Tom Brittney for his charisma is rather suppressed, but equally impressive at the very same time.

As for this fifth season, Brittney has the same chemistry with Robson Green "Geordie" as he he had with "Sydney". It's a great period piece and the new Vicar seems to be more open minded than even I expected.

Featuring 6 episodes running 6 hours over 2 DVDs, life in 1957 Cambridgeshire certainly gives the appearance of tranquility and contentment.

As noted, Will is hitting his stride after taking over for departing vicar Sidney Chambers, and he's intrigued by local reporter Ellie Harding (Lauren Carse).

Geordie, meanwhile, has come to terms with his wife Cathy's (Kacey Ainsworth) desire to work at a department store — especially once her mum (Paula Wilcox) visits to help out and bring him his slippers.

In the opening episode, a student at an all-female college turns up dead after a night of drinking — and there are many murders to come, along with storylines involving drug abuse, racism, homophobia and mental illness.

For my money, this fifth season is probably the most uncomfortable to watch, and for a minute there I thought one of the episodes was way outside the 'Grantchester' brief, so to speak.

But, as it plays out, it turns out to be the best episode yet, in my humble opinion, for in that hour, two boys make a suicide pact and a dark secret is unveiled that has a devastating effect on the main characters.

So yes, 'Grantchester' still maintains its humor. It still maintains its life-affirming themes and Will and Geordie's growing bond is a pleasure to watch.

With Sidney, the detective could relate as a fellow veteran; they shared the experience of war. With Will, he's the son he never had and Geordie is the father he's never had. And watching along, I'm happy to say that lovely relationship is really cemented early on.

In closing, the show overall is reliably well produced, the scripts true and the characters full of flaws to satisfy the most demanding 'make-them-human' viewer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs with the Bonus Feature of:

Grantchester: The Making of Season 5