Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Valley

by Pa Rock
TV Junkie

I recently discovered a mini-drama from the BBC that is as intense and engrossing as anything that I have ever watched on television.  The show is called Happy Valley, and the first season was filmed in 2014 in just six episodes.  It is available for streaming on Netflix.

The back story goes something like this:  A happily married couple - she is a cop and he is a reporter - have two nearly grown children, a boy and a girl.  The boy is average enough, but the daughter is a bit on the hard-to-control side.  The daughter gets pregnant and tells her parents soon after the baby is born that he is a product of rape.  She tells them who the father is, but never lets the father know about the baby.  The daughter then kills herself.

Gramma, the cop, decides to raise the infant, something that so upsets Grampa that he leaves the household, divorces Gramma, and finds a new wife.

The rapist father, meanwhile, gets sent to prison on another charge.

The series begins ten years later as the rapist is getting out of prison and falls in with a hapless gang who kidnap a rich girl, a crime which goes wrong in every bloody way possible.  The investigating officer is Gramma, of course!

The plotting and writing of Happy Valley is brilliant.  It is a riveting story that grabs the viewer early on in the first episode and never lets go.  The cast is solid across the board, but two of the featured actors are well beyond exceptional.  Sarah Lancashire (Last Tango in Halifax)  gives a stellar performance as the cop who is raising the son of her daughter's rapist, and James Norton (Grantchester) is mesmerizing as the evil young criminal.  Both actors turn in award-worthy performances.

While the name Happy Valley is a bit of a misnomer, it is a show that I can't recommend highly enough.  If you want your emotions exercised, Happy Valley will do it!

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