'Indian Summers - The Complete Second Season'
(Nikesh Patel, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Julie Walters, et al / 4-Disc Blu-ray / PG-13 / 2016 / PBS)
Overview: Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, this epic drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience.
Blu-ray Verdict: In England, Channel 4 went for an updated Jewel in the Crown and mixed it with a 'Downton Abbey' vibe. Location shooting in Penang, Malaysia, and not India, but with a hefty use of green screen to make the viewer think we in the foothills of the Himalayas as British colonials spend the summer in Simla, 'Indian Summers' might take some getting used to for those in the know of that era, trust me.
In the first rather brilliant season, it was 1932 and Ralph Whelan and the rest of the Indian Civil Service started the annual move to Simla, the exclusively white British Club which was to be the center of the social scene. A mixed race boy is found collapsed on the railway tracks and an assassin attempts to shoot Whelan, but a Parsee civil servant Aafrin takes the bullet. From there on in the first season evolved, showcasing many facts that came together to weave a tale of intrigue and mystery. None more so that the opening fact that it turned out what Whelan was actually the father of the boy in question.
Here in the second season of 'Indian Summers' it is 1935. Three years have passed, and as the seasons turn, so too do the machinations of a rising revolution. As a new summer falls upon the foothills of India's Little England, Simla, political tensions reach fever point. With help from the scheming Cynthia (Julie Walters), Ralph faces the most pivotal year of his career. Alice's husband has followed her to India, and Aafrin's ascending career may be in jeopardy.
It is primarily here in 'Indian Summers,' that we have lingering shots as the director wants to show off the production design, the costumes, the scenery and gives us plenty of flashbacks toboot in his filming technique. I mean, the setting is just beautiful and the audio and visuals and costumes really bring you into the series. I can almost smell the air of the mountains. There are several themes running through the series and you can see things starting to come together into a more coherent whole by the third episode.
I would rate this series as one of the best I've ever seen - along the likes of 'Downton Abbey' or even 'The Wire'. There are also some really great actors and actresses like Jemima West and Henry Lloyd-Hughes. Jemima West really carries the show. Little subtleties add a lot of flavor to this series which why I highly recommend these ten new episodes for a great unwinding scenario after a long week. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
The Making Of: A Glorious In-Depth Look Inside The Production Of Indian Summers with The Cast and Crew of Season Two