Now on DVD: UK’s Vera Now on DVD
Vera is another well-made, well-acted, engrossing British crime drama, starring Brenda Blethyn as grumpy but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope (U.S. release: August 30, 2011). Released by Acorn Media Group, this four-disc set is comprised of four episodes: “Hidden Depths,” “Telling Tales,” “The Crow Trap,” and “Little Lazarus.”
Each story revolves around murder, and the perpetrators are not obvious. Throughout the course of “Hidden Depths,” as in all four episodes, the viewer will waver between choice suspects before the culprit is revealed. Throughout the tale, what is revealed are the secrets and shames of the Northumberland residents who populate Vera’s world. Tinged with obsession, this episode begins with the strangulation death of a teenager which follows the drowning death of his friend some time ago. Complications set in when affairs are revealed and a teacher is murdered.
“Telling Tales” concerns a woman who was sentenced for murdering a girl ten years earlier who escapes from jail, only to be run down by a bus (which appears to be suicide) following an argument with her father. Soon a young man who had left town a decade ago returns and is murdered. Vera’s task is to unravel the many threads that make up the tapestry of deceit that resulted in these deaths.
Complex but satisfying, “The Crow Trap,” introduces a cast of characters that includes an environmentalist, a murdered woman, the victim’s stepson, the mother of a missing child, and a stroke victim. As each life touches on another, everyone seems to have a motive. “Little Lazarus” is the story of a boy who falls through the ice in a pond when his mother is murdered. Despite slim chances, he survives, but his failure to remember an important key to the case forestalls its solution.
The series is based on the work of crime author Ann Cleeves. Brenda Blethyn does a superb job in the role of Vera Stanhope—frazzled, crabby, sometimes difficult to work with, often remote, and highly insightful. She is supported by a capable crew: David Leon (Sgt. Joe Ashworth), Wunmi Mosaku (DC Holly Lawson), and Paul Ritter (forensic pathologist Billy Cartwright).