Did anyone watch the first episode in the new season of Grantchester (season 3) this past Sunday night?
I’ll admit it was a bit disconcerting to watch a Christmas episode (which this was; evidently it was shown as a holiday special in Great Britain, and the rest of season 3 did not air there until earlier this year) in June. But, frankly? I’m a big fan of Christmas episodes of anything, so it didn’t bother me too much. And, you should know, I have a little history with Grantchester.
My dad died right around the time they aired the first season of the mystery/crime/crime-solving vicar series here in the U.S. That was a tough time, and I still remember coming home exhausted from family events and duties, and I would turn on the TV, and there would be Grantchester. And it was just absorbing enough to take me out of my sadness for a bit, but not so complex that I couldn’t follow it, even when I was worn out. For this reason I will always feel very warmly towards Grantchester.
There’s many reasons to love the program. Set in the 1950s in a rural congregation just outside Cambridge, it features James Norton as Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers. He’s a WWII veteran and suffers with memories of that, and he’s also in love with an heiress and whose family he feels won’t accept him as a serious suitor. But the main part of the series, of course, are the crimes and the solving of them, which Sidney helps with through his friendship with police Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (played by the always excellent Robson Green). I feel series 1 was more watchable in general; series 2 was much darker and, although there was still excellent interplay between the characters, the season 2 episodes felt more disjointed, as though the writers were trying to pack just a bit too much in and lost a bit of the great dialogue and chemistry between the characters (including the supporting characters of Sidney’s cantankerous housekeeper Mrs. Maguire and his so-naively-sweet curate Leonard) that had made season 1 so strong.
This first episode/special of season 3 aired on Masterpiece Theatre during the evening of Father’s Day. So imagine my joy when I turned on the TV and there it was, just like it had been several years ago, ready to help provide a bit of distraction when I was missing my Dad. Well played, PBS.