Happy Valley (2014) – Netflix


[divider]Happy Valley is ironic.  Let’s just get that out there right now.  It is not always, if ever, happy in Happy Valley.  Happy Valley is not Happy Days with Richie Cunninham, nor does it try to be.  This is a hard look at life in this Yorkshire community, where the dark underbelly rolls over to be scratched.  If you need to know that happiness is out there everywhere and with everyone, this show is not for you.  That said, I like the show and the acting is often terrific.  I’m glad to see that it has been brought back for a second season on Netflix.

Creator Sally Wainwright tells the story of police sergeant, Catherine Cawood, played admirably by Sarah Lancashire (Coronation, and Lark Rise to Candleford).  An actress and director, she knows how to tease out the character that she has created.  Her Catherine is understated and not over-the-top.  She could have presented a much darker character, instead there is a sense of optimism and a true desire to help others, even when they are likely to self-destruct.  Like her sister Clare, played by Siobhan Finneran, (Mrs. O’Brien of Downton Abbey fame).  Clare is a recovering addict, and a helper, sometimes, to her sister as she raises her grandson, Ryan (Rhys Connah).  Sometimes, she’s not so helpful.  Tragedy runs in the family, and its hard to get out of its way.

There’s really one big police story in Happy Valley, centered around the release of rapist Tommy Lee Royce, now available to commit  more heinous crimes.  James Norton is very creepy as the sociopath that ruined the lives of Catherine’s family.  Sadly, he is connected to a crime of stupidity, the kidnapping of young Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy).  Let’s just say that accountant Kevin (Steve Pembton), should learn to leave well enough alone. Revenge is a not dish best served cold.  It is a dish best kept off the menu altogether.  Terrible things are ahead for everyone on this show.  People make mistakes with their lives and in their jobs, and some things get broken that can’t get fixed.  I will say no more.

I’m looking forward to watching season two, when I get to it.  I think I can handle the hard times ahead.  I’m currently re-watching the first season so I will be fully alert for the events that lie ahead.  If you like Broadchurch or other shows like it, I know you will enjoy Happy Valley.