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Vera - Series 2 DVD

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The first series of Vera may have left the show a little bit of work to do, but this follow-up run of stories improves things with considerable skill. The basic premise remains similar. Vera follows the work of Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, a woman driven to solve crime, whilst battling a catalogue of problems of her own. So far, so conventional. Television is hardly short of detectives, after all. But Vera has a trump card, and her name is Brenda Blethyn. The Oscar-nominated actress gives a considered performance in the title role, and the lends the show the gravitas it needs to keep us hooked. Blethyn is front and centre for much of the four episodes collected together here, and it's a complex collection of cases she's presented with. For instance, she has to face the mysterious suicide of a former colleague, and the odd murder of a social worker, each of which comes with a labyrinthine backstory that Vera needs to get to grips with. There are still problems with Vera that this second series doesn't completely solve. Based once more on Ann Cleeves' novels, the wonderful Blethyn has proven to be a divisive choice amongst hardened fans of the books, and whilst her character is deepened here, more work on the writing and less reliance on the leading actress would serve the show well. That said, her adventures here are fleshed out, interesting, and intriguing to watch. And Vera continues, as it did in the second half of its maiden series, to improve. Well worth a look. --Jon Foster

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