'The Village - Seasons One & Two'
(David Ryall, Maxine Peake, John Simm, Charlie Murphy, Emily Beecham, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)
Overview: In this heart-warming coming-of-age story set in a remote Derbyshire village, you’ll share the villagers’ joys and crises as Bert Middleton takes a nostalgic look back at his youth, between 1914 and 1929.
DVD Verdict: Season 1, 1914-1919: When a bus drives into the village for the first time, the rest of the world seems suddenly closer. Bert feels frustrated at being too young to fight in the Great War.
How will the village react when women go to work in the nearby factory and conscientious objectors and shell-shocked soldiers come home?
Season 2, The 1920s: The local aristocrats plan to resume their pre-war lifestyle, but times have changed. Bert falls madly in love, while others fall out.
Criminally underrated writer/producer, Peter Moffat, showcases his prodigious versatility by following up his brilliant legal drama, Silk, with the equally compelling 'The Village'.
'The Village' chronicles the lives of the inhabitants of a small country town as they struggle to adjust to the turbulent societal upheaval brought about by the First World War.
From the gentry to the poverty stricken working class, the shocking realities behind closed doors belie the idyllic surrounds of the Derbyshire countryside.
'The Village' is far from feel-good entertainment. It's dark themes and gritty period realism creates viewing that is often emotionally harrowing, but undeniably brilliant.
It's mournful, depressing, grim and harsh but that was the reality of life then. If your harvest failed your family could die, there was no public money, or other jobs to be had if you lived in a small remote community.
Despite the explosive era in which it is set, the narrative threads of the series are predominately insular and familial, relying on interpersonal relationships to create drama.
The results are riveting, primarily thanks to the vast array of intriguing characters and superb performances by the stellar cast. Moffat is a genius at writing fascinatingly unconventional characters that are neither heroes nor villains, but ambiguously grey.
Unlike many male writers, he also consistently imbues his shows with multifaceted females roles that are equally if not more dynamic than their male counterparts.
Moffat's leading lady from Silk, Maxine Peake, is the emotional center of the series. Peake remains one of the finest actresses working today and if there is any justice 'The Village' should garner her some long overdue recognition.
In closing, 'The Village' is beautifully shot, beautifully acted, almost incessantly grim, but is still a drama that itself actually moved me to the point that it was something that I immediately wanted to see again. And I hope, think you will too once viewed with your family. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.