Vera, a British crime drama based on the novels by the award-winning Ann Cleeves, has returned for its seventh series. Having come under fire for poor north-east English accents, and with many sources hinting that Brenda Blethyn, the actress playing DCI Vera Stanhope, is the sole saviour of the show, this episode has a lot to prove.
‘Natural Selection’ kicks off with the discovery of a dead ranger, a girl loved by all, on a remote wildlife island named the Galapagos of the North, hence the name of the episode.
The forensics team quickly establish it was no accident. The rest of the first half of the two-hour episode is poorly linked however, with the team almost forcing suspicion.
Erratic and random questions from Vera and colleagues are only made more confusing by scenes which don’t seem to add anything. If anything, Vera is made out to be slightly dim, or psychic.
Perhaps a shorter, snappier introduction would have been more effective, especially as it was broken up by the lengthy advert breaks so prevalent in ITV shows.
The writers seemed to forget that the beginning should draw the viewer in, as it was difficult to become invested when interrupted by an advert with no cliff-hanger making me want to return after the break.
This was remedied as the episode played out, with each advert break leaving on a cliff-hanger more impactful than the last.
Again, Vera was made out to be not that sharp of a detective, having ‘missed’ a bit of obvious evidence by not noticing that the moon in footage showing the access point to where the murder took place had changed; evidence which proved key in the investigation and negated the point of spending so much time on each of the suspects.
Images of idyllic landscapes are prevalent throughout the two hours – in a way not dissimilar to Shetland, a BBC murder mystery series based on other novels by Ann Cleeves.
The pretty scenery does not, however, distract from the lack of rapport between Vera and colleagues. Whilst this may be an issue with the actors, there was no banter written into the script which would allow the actors to show any chemistry.
A classic whodunit; as the story unfolds more suspects come into view, growing in number until the murderer could quite feasibly be anyone who has ever set foot on the island.
The ending was in no way predictable, which was as entertaining as it was disappointing, not allowing the viewer the smug satisfaction of being able to say they knew who it was all along. The final 20 minutes make up for the lack of focus and monotony of the beginning, however they failed to make the show exciting overall.
Image: MaxPixel @FreeGreatPictures.