'Happy Valley - Season 1'
(Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, James Norton, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / BBC America)
Overview: In a magnificent role written specifically for her, Sarah Lancashire (Last Tango in Halifax, The Paradise) shines as Catherine Cawood, a hard-working, earthy police sergeant who strides her beautiful patch of Yorkshire like a grown-up.
DVD Verdict: Catherine (Sarah Lancashire, better known for her role in the UK's longest running soap, Coronation Street) is a no-nonsense police sergeant who heads up a team of officers in a rural Yorkshire valley. When a staged kidnapping spirals out of control turning into a brutal series of crimes, Catherine finds herself involved in something significantly bigger than her rank, but unknowingly close to home.
Simply put, I cannot praise this series enough. It has an air of realism about it from its location to the main actors. The lead sergeant Catherine Cawood and her sister are so ordinary, preoccupied with ordinary things, (no trendy, smarmy, clever middle class media interpretations of what ordinary people speak like dialog).
I mean, the show kicks off slowly, and yet instantly powerfully when Catherine arrives at the scene of a threatened suicide-by-petrol taking place in a playground. Cawood brings with her a borrowed fire extinguisher in hand and when the high-as-a-kite young man begins telling her his reason for setting himself alight, (his girlfriend has broken up with him), she replies, cooly, calmly, "I'm Catherine, by the way. I'm forty-seven, I'm divorced, I live with my sister, who's a recovering heroin addict, I have two grown-up children. One dead and one who doesn't speak to me. And a grandson! So if you think you've got it bad, think again!"
Without exception every character is believable. With master classes in acting from the lead, her sister, her grandson and Tommy the maniac. The criminals are believably cruel and stupid in measure. The damaged and unfortunate are portrayed realistically but with compassion.
No left wing idealism or right wing coldness that usually invades these type of program. The setting is the bleakest place I've ever seen, a beautiful English valley shrouded in mist, dampness and high rises. The streets and buildings are claustrophobic. Most of all the story is credible, consistent and finely paced. raw emotions are not avoided and dysfunction is everywhere. And yet there's something noble in Sergeant Catherine Cawood.
This series has taken the UK by storm and now the US. It is one of the better series you will see, and I urge you to view it. The proliferation of drugs into our society plays a big part in this series. Sarah Lancashire deserves awards aplenty. Luckily, for us all, I have read that Season 2 of 'Happy Valley' is on it's way. Yay! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.