One of my absolutely favorite PBS shows is back on the air for its third season and, in celebration, I simply had to write a little something about my love for Grantchester.
Commissioned by ITV in the UK and broadcast on PBS here in the states, Grantchester is a Masterpiece Mystery show based on James Runcie’s The Grantchester Mysteries, a collection of short stories about a vicar with a knack for solving crimes in a sleepy, English village just outside Cambridge in the 1950s. The vicar is Sidney Chambers (played by the ever-adorable James Norton) – a handsome, young, sweet, though sometimes brooding guy, who loves jazz, nice whiskey and one particular young lady named Amanda who, through unfortunate circumstances, he can NEVER marry. Their star-crossed lovers’ romance is by far one of my favorite elements of the show!
His partner in crime, or more often in solving crimes, is Geordie Keating (played by Robson Green.) Geordie is a sometimes gruff, yet good-hearted, local detective who has befriended Sidney and allows him to tag along when someone in town is found murdered because, well, Sidney usually figures out the mystery and the two are sensational drinking buddies. So why not, right?!
One of the best attributes of this show is the supporting characters, particularly those at the vicarage. Leonard is a fellow vicar who has to hide his true self as a gay man (I mean it is the church and the 1950s we’re talking about here.) He has the biggest heart, mounds of conviction, and the best comedic lines on Grantchester! Then there is Mrs. Maguire, a tough, but a generous woman, who is just trying to keep Sidney and Leonard in line (and in tea.) Then there is Amanda – the love of Sidney’s life – who, for all her trouble, is the vision of a confident, intelligent, self-empowered woman in a time when it really wasn’t fashionable. As much as I want to resent her, I can’t help but love her! I also must not forget to mention Dickens – Sidney’s faithful black labrador, who is just about as cute as they come.
I had absolutely no awareness of this show until I started to work for PBS and was charged with live-tweeting along to the premiere of Season Two. Before I even knew what hit me, I was hooked! Hooked on the witty writing, the suspenseful plot lines, the moral dilemmas and good God – James Norton’s smile! You add all that together and you have a show that’s unlike anything else currently broadcasting or streaming. Grantchester has a kind of classic TV show ‘everything-gets-wrapped-up-at-the-end-of-the-hour-charm,’ while still being incredibly relevant, relatable, thought-provoking and exceptionally well-made.
The show teeters on a see-saw of moral justice. It juxtaposes the perfection of a quaint English village with gruesome crimes, meanwhile examining morality against humanity, and love against reality. The drama finds its home in this constant dichotomy, and with the perfect blend of comedy, the result is a delightful, nail-biting, and heart-racing drama that holds its own with the best (in my humble opinion!)
Tune in to PBS on Sundays at 9pm for new episodes, or you can watch it online for a limited time. Seasons one and two are also available to stream on Amazon Prime.