Last night’s episode opened on a picnic scene that had the sexy pastor (the handsome as Robert Redford, (James Norton) and the cop (Robson Green) disrobing to their bathing suits before jumping into a small, chilly looking pond while Sydney’s housekeeper (Tessa Peake-Jones) and curate (Al Weaver) plus Geordie’s wife (Kacey Ainsworth) and kids sat by eating cucumber sandwiches.
Geordie teases Sydney that he won’t always be so damn handsome and the whole party agrees what he needs is a woman. Except for the curate, (Al Weaver), who we all are pretty sure is gay, but deeply in the closet as this is Grantchester, a small English village in the vicinity of Cambridge in the 1950’s.
The charismatic Norton and Robson are so good together—Sydney, compassionate, interested in what makes good people do bad things and Geordie, no-nonsense, let’s solve this crime now, no matter what—come to verbal blows as often as not, as they go about delivering justice, each balancing the other’s excesses.
In last night’s episode, Sydney is accused of sexually-assaulting a love-starved teenage girl, an episode which allows us to look at the condemnation of women for having sexual natures, the punishment delivered for those sexual natures by the denial of birth control and legal abortion and the hypocrisy of the church as it moves its’ ministers along rather than see them get their punishment from secular society.
Most episodes include at least one sigh-worthy visit to the unhappily married Amanda (Morven Christie), Sydney’s best friend and, as any Grantchester viewer knows, his true love. Geordie is right, Sydney does need a woman, and it’s crystal-clear the woman he needs is Amanda. The show follows the Sam & Diane, Ross & Rachel school of television writing, they know the delicious pleasure in watching the two resist each other, keeping them apart.
Originally based on a series of stories by James Runcie, this season is newly written for the screen. I’m watching on PBS Masterpiece at 9pm Sunday nights. If you need more James Norton, he plays a very different part on Happy Valley—this time he’s the sociopathic bad guy—watchable on Netflix which just started airing Season Two.
Watch the Grantchester trailer, and tell me what you think.