VERA: Sunday 15th May, ITV1, 9pm
The north of England is a terrible place where every man, woman and their respective dogs are criminals, police are extremely overworked, everyone is grumpy and colours are limited to black, grey, brown, beige â basically anything bland. Of course, this is all utter nonsense but watch an episode of Vera and your mind may well be changed.
This one starts off with a murder that looks like it may have been committed by a crow, which seems a pretty open and shut case until it turns out the woman was, in fact, killed by a hammer blow. This rules out the crow immediately as they do not have the required digits for the task, which is shame because a psychotic bird would be much better than what is actually in store.
Vera and Joe turn up on the scene and go about interrogating everybody, proving that there are at least two police officers that donât seem to believe in innocence until proven guilt. We also find out that the murder is tied in with an old case of child abduction and the fact that a company want to build a quarry where people currently live. Thereâs so much here that it canât possibly be boring, but Vera somehow manages to sidestep every potentially interesting plot twist that comes along to provide two hours of not-very-much.
The problem with Vera (the person), is that she is just not likeable as a character. Even in the âtorturedâ scene where she sits and hold the shoe of a child she was unable to find, itâs hard to engage with her and walking into rooms with little gems like the sarcasm-ridden âOh, did I spoil the moment?â? hardly help. Of course there are lots of stories that have anti-heroes, itâs just that Vera doesnât exactly do well when compared with, say, Yossarian or Raskolnikov, each of whom had their issues (in Raskolnikovâs case thatâs somewhat of an understatement) but were nevertheless very compelling.
At least the end brightens things up, with everybody managing to get themselves in a basement before weâre treated to the wonderful drama clichÃ© where the protagonist looks on as a funeral takes place, only to be noticed by the mother and given a solitary nod of acknowledgement.
Vera isnât the worst show on TV, but itâs far from the best and although it does deliver fairly normal characters it joins them with Midsomer-style murderers to make the odd combination of pretty average people solving outlandish cases. In an hour-and-a-half episode this leaves a lot of time where the story drags and itâs difficult to maintain interest; Vera is unlikely to become essential viewing.