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'Inspector George Gently' Wraps up Its Eight Seasons
November 1, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

It almost feels too easy to say that George is not departing gently.

Inspector George Gently, a popular British TV detective series that features Martin Shaw (top) as the title character, is wrapping up its eight-season run with a pair of feature-length films that will be available beginning Wednesday on the streaming service, Acorn.

The Inspector will not be spending his last detective days with his feet on the desk watching Columbo reruns.

Gently is an old-school detective, even for the late 1960s where the show is set. He approaches cases as human puzzles, to be put together one painstaking piece at a time, and while he doesn’t reject technology, he has little use for many of the newfangled ways of doing things.

He also smokes and drinks.

The end of the series, which the producers have said was dictated by the natural arc of Gently’s character, falls almost precisely where it started.

At the beginning, Gently was about to retire, following the brutal death of his wife. The chance to apprehend the perp kept him on the job, and as one case seeded another, he showed up at the office for another six years.  

The first of the final two episodes, titled “Gently Liberated,” has him finally bowing to pressure from his superiors to pack it in. Added factor: He feels increasingly like a dinosaur, albeit a dinosaur who has helped keep his ambitious partner John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby, right) in line and has mentored the bright young Rachel Coles (Lisa McGrillis).

It’s important to remember that Rachel was breaking barriers in the 1960s because most police departments everywhere still thought that if there were a woman in the stationhouse, her role was to fetch coffee and doughnuts for the real cops.

Season 8 starts with a dive into another issue affecting women, this time harassment, intimidation and, in too many cases, violence.

A woman went to jail eight years earlier after confessing she killed her husband. When the body is belatedly found, Gently takes a look at the whole case and finds problems with the way the police and prosecutors argued that everything went down.

Compounding the awkwardness of an investigation that could potentially show the justice system put an innocent woman behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit, Bacchus was part of the original police team.

The holes Gentry suspected in the case soon turn into gaping chasms, though the more he learns about the convicted killer and the victim, the more justification he sees for someone to have stopped this man.

At the same time, in a brief but salient parallel scene, Rachel (right) gets a visit from the man who will be her boss after Gently retires. Let’s just say no one who has been following the Harvey Weinstein story will be shocked at the insinuation he brings to the encounter.

While the Inspector George Gently story has built up a number of nuances and continuing subplots over its seven seasons, these final two episodes are filmed as self-contained procedurals.

No prior knowledge is required to appreciate them as well-turned crime mysteries, featuring the familiar character of a dogged detective who figures out which people are hiding something and finds a way to make them reveal what it is.

It’s not a quiet retirement party, exactly. It’s the right one.

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Linda F
It was an excellent series and will be missed but the ending certainly left room for a Bacchus and Coles spin-off.
Nov 8, 2017   |  Reply
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