Two dramas, one night
Sunday nights are set to get a lot more interesting with two cracking dramas kicking off this weekend. British series, Happy Valley (Sunday, 8.30pm, TV One) stars Susan Lancashire as middle-aged cop Catherine Cawood. It’s apparent from the off that Happy Valley is anything but as we see Catherine trying to talk sense into a jilted drug addict who’s threatening to set himself alight.
It’s a clever start. It tells us this is not picture-book northern England with rolling green hills and cheery locals. And it also gives us a full bio on Catherine as she introduces herself to the hapless, petrol-wielding youth.
‘‘I’m Catherine . . .I’m 47, I’m divorced, I live with my sister who’s a recovering heroin addict, I’ve two grown-up children, one dead, one who doesn’t speak to me and a grandson . . .’.
‘‘Why, why doesn’t he speak to you?’’ asks the youth
‘‘It’s complicated. Let’s talk about you,’’ comes the response.
There’s a bit of humour in that dialogue, especially when it’s done with Catherine’s no-nonsense delivery. It really warms you to her character and Lancashire looks set to put in a great performance. But it quickly becomes apparent that this is no drama light about stoical northerners with quick quips.
And when an embittered employee decides to take revenge on his wealthy boss, lives in the small community collide and we’re immersed into a world of jealousy, greed and some dark hearts. There’s drug dealing, kidnapping and the constant looming spectre of drug addiction. This is an unrelentingly grim but gripping drama. You won’t want to switch off.
In trailers, Happy Valley has been likened to Broadchurch. Yet it’s new Australian drama Secrets and Lies (starts Sunday, 9.40pm, TV One) that strikes me as more Broadchurch- y, at least in plot terms.
Set in Brisbane, this series revolves around the discovery of a dead boy in a forest at the end of a suburban street.
House painter and all-round normal seeming family guy, Ben Gundelach (Martin Henderson) discovers the body when he’s out running. This makes for a surprisingly cliched opening scene of him running through a forest screaming for help.
Anyway, it turns out Ben is pretty unlucky because soon he’s the main suspect in the boy’s murder.
No more cheery greetings for him on this friendly suburban street. Neighbours are soon shunning him and leaving notes asking for the return of their loaned power tools. All of this for reasons that remain stubbornly unclear in this first episode. Are his neighbours just super judgmental? Or do they know something we don’t?
It’s beautifully filmed and Henderson is great as the beleaguered house painter. When the finger of suspicion falls on him, you find yourself watching every little detail, listening to every word of dialogue, trying to make up your mind if you think he’s guilty as well.
This is tightly written and it’s a slow-boil plot. Don’t expect any quick gratification.
Start watching and you’ll have to stick with it for the duration.
No nonsense: Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood (Susan Lancashire).