Film & Television

Mystery, Merchants and Motherhood: PBS’s Sunday Night Triple-Header

Grantchester, 9:00 pm Sunday

If there’s anything that the English do particularly well, it’s mysteries. The Brits have a longstanding tradition of amateur sleuthing literature, and we yanks are invariably happy to go along for the ride.

The New York Times Book Review called James Runcie’s novel Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death “the coziest of cozy murder mysteries.” Its unlikely hero is based on the author’s real-life father, a war veteran who became a post-war parish priest (and, eventually, the Archbishop of Canterbury). In the series Grantchester, named for the picturesque village in which it takes place, Chambers partners with world-weary Detective Inspector Keating to solve a rash of local murders.

For fans of Grantchester (many and enthusiastic, here and in the U.K.), what makes the series irresistible is its casting. James Norton is surprisingly sexy as the vicar (he even had a Season One Mr. Darcy moment when he stripped own to his trunks for a swim). His Chambers is more complicated than your average curate, enjoying the company of women and jazz musicians alike. Meanwhile, older actor Robson Green holds his own with gruff, no-nonsense appeal. Fortunately this odd couple can bond over their military service, a good game of backgammon, and a pint at the local pub. Norton and Green are both Masterpiece veterans.

Other cast members include Kacey Ainsworth as Geordie’s wife, and Morven Christie as Sydney’s true love that got away. Although worth catching from the beginning, Grantchester episodes, each with its own delicious mystery to solve, can also be enjoyed a la carte.

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  • Cecilia Ford April 5, 2016 at 10:18 am

    “Call the Midwife” is one of the best PBS shows I’ve ever seen. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It never descends to soap opera level because the life and death issues are so real and central to the plot. But mostly, it’s a celebration of life, and as you said so well, the wonders of women’s “labor” in both senses of the word.

  • Andrea April 5, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I love so many Sunday night shows on tv- I record them and watch Them During the week- even great on my iPad!! Mr selfridge is a great substitute for Downton Abbey! I adore the clothing from that era !!