Vera, Series 6 (ITV, 2016) One of the better series. Vera is at her most believable, her quirks more the product of underlying personality than of plot or manufactured idiosyncrasy. The murder investigations yield to regular police work, their challenges not weighed down by layers of coincidence.
Vera, Series 5
Vera, Series 5 (ITV, 2015) Vera is less misanthropic this series, becoming almost cuddly in her dealings with colleagues and suspects. Three of the four investigations entail murder schemes or cover-ups that, divested of obfuscating coincidences, reveal the perpetrator to have acted without a jot of sense.
Vera, Series 4
Vera, Series 4 (ITV, 2014) Four feature-length murder investigations. There’s less quirkiness this season and more focus on regular police work, albeit that Vera remains a brusque, dismissive team of one (and a half if we include Joe). Moody and murky with skeletons stacked up in closets.
Vera, Series 3
Vera, Series 3 (ITV, 2013) The Northumberland setting continues to charm, and Brenda Blethyn to shine as Vera Stanhope. While engaging the viewer, several of the four feature-length investigations yield to theatrical, intuitive deductions where bog-standard police work would have done the job (more quickly and effectively).
Vera, Series 2
Vera, Series 2 (ITV, 2012) Vera is much more assured in its second season. The four feature-length mysteries are more coherent and the recurring characters benefit from being written to match the actors’ early portrayals. Brenda Blethyn goes from strength to strength as the socially maladroit lead.
Vera, Series 1
Vera, Series 1 (ITV, 2011) Brenda Blethyn is superb in the lead role, lending truth and energy to DCI Stanhope’s mercurial, faux-rustic mien. The scripts, however, are shoddy, the mysteries overtly manipulative in throwing out subplots and false lines of investigation that prove inconsistent with the solutions.