Grantchester, Series Two (2016) – Cozy British Mystery (and Romance!) at its Best


I have a thing for good old fashioned British mysteries. Why might this be? Far be it from me to speculate on or understand the “why,” but of course, one thing that never harms the process is a good-looking and swoon-worthy hero.


Life for Sydney Chambers (James Norton) is good. He has good friends, pastors a parish filled with people he genuinely cares about, and he’s finally emerging from the guilt that held him captive for so many years. The burden of his past is slowly lifting until an ugly accusation is laid on his doorstep. A teenage girl is found dead in his small community and the finger is pointed at Sydney. Not only is her death suspicious, but prior to her death whispers were budding that Sydney assaulted her and was the father of her unborn child.

With the help of his good friend, Detective Geordie Keating (Robson Green), Sydney sets about discovering the secrets of Abigail Redmond’s life. As he looks closely at her life, he’s accused by Abigail’s parents (Claudie Blakely, Neal Morrissey) and finds himself ministering to Abigail’s friend, Gary (Sam Frenchum). All of this coincides with the arrival of Sydney’s old friend, Sam (Andrew Knott) and the continuing complicated tension between Sydney and his best friend, Amanda (Morven Christie).

There is a kind of standard viewers have come to rely on from ITV, PBS or BBC dramas. One of the commonalities among them is that they are all perfectly British.  When Grantchester first came to my attention during its first season promotion, I was skeptical about it suiting my TV watching preferences. Why this was, I haven’t a clue since I am an enthusiastic fan of shows like ITV’s Marple, and it then took nary an entire episode before I was invested in these character’s lives.

TV REVIEW | Grantchester (2015), Series One - A Smart 50s Period Drama with Complex Character Writing 


The second season of this masterpiece series is no different. The stories continue to be cutting edge with a sharp wit. The characters undergo further change and depth, and hidden beneath this all is an unrequited love story that you’ll either love or love to hate. Some fans will also not see this romantic entanglement as one-sided. I do. While I respect that Amanda, Sydney’s childhood friend, deeply cares about him, I don’t believe that she loves him as he does her. The divided chasm in the fanbase is likely going to stem from the back-and-forth teasing of their relationship. I fall into the camp of being done with this romance.

Much as I liked Amanda in series one, I feel her character hit a stalemate in series two (plus I had little sympathy for her since she had every opportunity to leave a life she detests). Beyond this, I lost respect for her and felt as a character, she's a worthless distraction to further the plot. All this to say, as things end by the second series end, I have already “written” in my mind how the already-planned third season will play out.

Irrespective of these grievances, I adored series two as a whole. New faces enter Sydney’s life, some for the good, and others are detrimental. The sets are beautiful (especially the light and sunny natural outdoor scenes) and of course, the costuming is second to none. Fans will relish the familiarity of the “bromance” between its leading sleuths and shed a tear when their relationship hits a snag. But one thing is for certain, the writers have again crafted brilliance in these installments. Few though the series installments are, in such a case as PBS drama, I’ll take quality over quantity any and every day.

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Rissi
11 Comments

11 comments:

  1. If you like Grantchester you should check out the British detective series Endeavor which is also set in Oxford in the 1960's. It's available on Amazon.

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    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation, Brittaney. I'll confess, we discovered Endeavour this winter, and with the shiny temptation as the first three seasons, we went on something of a binge. ;) I like Evdeavour quite a lot, and admire it's clever "wit" and intelligence, but overall, I think I like Foyle's War or Grantchester best.

      How about you? Do you have a favorite?

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  2. Sadly, I have difficulty following the dialogue, in some British TV. And that really takes away from the enjoyment.

    Of course, one can always watch simply, for the hair, makeup and period dress, the sets, countryside, those delightful British roads which seem to be only one lane (!), etc. Even if I don't catch all the words! :-)

    Luna Crone

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    1. My mom comments on that too, Luna. Usually I can follow it, but I do understand the struggle. It's as natural to them as our American English dialogue is to us. :)

      The sets, dresses, make up and all that IS stunning! I 100% agree. Have you seen this one?

      Glad you stopped by.

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  3. I have missed both series but I definitely will have to catch this one. I've been craving some decent historical romance on tv. So glad you share these, Rissi! :D

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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    1. These are AMAZING, Tressa. Especially if you like these types of stories. Though it's set in a different era, Grantchester and the Drew Farthering books could be likened. :) Hope you enjoy if you watch these - let me know what you think if you do!

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  4. Reading this recap and review has reminded me of the quality of this series! Not to mention the fact that I'm ready for S3!!!!

    The good-looking hero, costumes, and well-told mysteries are reason enough to watch this series!

    It's interesting that you have that opinion where Amanda's concerned.... I really haven't given the one-sidedness much thought, but I agree with that much, Sydney cares deeply in a way she doesn't understand. I am very annoyed by some of the choices she has made, but I haven't written her off just yet. I'm hoping she can grow into what Sydney needs her to be.

    One thing I really liked was how the events of the first episode were drawn into the whole season. However tragic it was, it did create a continuing thread and building momentum from one episode to the next.

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    1. ME TOO, Courtney! I'm all like, "WHERE'S MY SEASON THREE??" :D

      Bravo. Echoing everything you say - 'tis SO true.

      I'd love Amanda to grow. Her character in S1 was among my favorites. I like the fun, teasing relationship they had, but in this series, she become (*sad face*) an annoyance to me. I mean, if she'd straighten up and they'd grow OUT of this unhealthy relationship, I'd root for them again. Until then... well, I'm hoping for a better alternative. :D

      The storytelling is brilliant! I don't usually like episodes that are so dependent on one another, but British shows do it best, plus their short seasons make it work really well. U.S. shows run 20+ episodes and the constant return to one baddie or plot thread wears thin. In this, however, I'm like you. I thought it was a well written story that I didn't mind lasting the season.

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    2. Yes to what you said about the "unhealthy" relationship!

      And, that's a great point about British shows and short seasons. Although I would like for some of them to run a bit longer, those continuing elements work much better in a shorter season format. I hadn't thought of this before! :)

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    3. I would LOVE more British shows to enjoy a longer run. I think the next season of Endeavour is supposed to, so perhaps these other shows will take notes. This would make me so very happy because more Sidney in our life? How can that be a bad thing?? ;)

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  5. I LOVE Grantchester for all of the reasons you've named -- especially the depth of characterization, and the emotion with which they handle very real situations. I eagerly await Season 3.

    I think after this post, you might need to review Poldark... I need to read those comments too! Ha ha! (P.S. Poldark, if you haven't seen it, has some of the most stunning PBSBritish dramas' cinematography to date! Please tell me you're watching it.) :)

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