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TV Review: Vera, Series 6

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• Streaming on Acorn TV Beginning March 21, 2016

Vera on Acorn TV

Series 6 of Vera may well offer the most personal glimpse into the disheveled but shrewd detective yet.

Leading up to this point, fans will remember that Vera has lost several important people in her life. Whether taken by death or attrition, Vera's reaction seems the same. Outwardly, she is accepting - almost cavalier. Inwardly, however, we sense that her emotions are near roiling boil. If there was ever any doubt that Brenda Blethyn is the perfect choice to play the curmudgeonly DCI, this most recent series will forever lay it to rest. Fine scripts are expected with Vera. But Blethyn's performance is always a sneakily delightful and heart-warming surprise.

In episode one, we find Vera on the trail of the murderer of a middle-aged woman found barefoot in a field. The death of a young man in episode two allows Vera to vent the grief she should express for those closest to her. Episode three is based on Vera creator Ann Cleeve's novel The Moth Catcher, although it is substantially modified. The final, fourth episode finds Vera navigating the chaotic truths families hide - perhaps mirroring Vera's own relationships with her officers whose pure, if begrudging, loyalty never waivers.

Vera is filmed in Northumberland and Tyneside in the north of England, not far from the border with Scotland. It is where Cleeves has lived since the 1980s. Like Vera herself, the geography is varied and complex. There are small towns, rugged coasts, and stretches of vast wilderness. Regardless of the terrain, however, Vera is comfortable with the landscape and the people. They are her "pets" and "loves" - even if they are suspected of murder. And Vera can sniff a murderer from a moor away.

Brenda Blethyn, says Cleeves, absolutely captures the character. Cleeves admits she now hears Blethyn's voice when she's writing her books. For viewers, it is Vera's crumpled mac, floppy hat, ever-present vest, and double-wound scarf that have become synonymous with the beloved detective. All are on view in Series 6, as is of course Vera's well-traveled Land Rover.

Vera Series 6 is powerful and entertaining. It debuts on Acorn TV on March 21, 2016. And yes - there will be a Series 7 so if you're new to the show, catch up on all of the previous seasons before digging in to the most recent. As Vera herself might say, "You'll love it, pet."

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