Monday, June 19, 2017

Christmas at Grantchester

Grantchester returned to American TV last night for its third season. It did so with a Christmas episode, the British original of which seems to have fallen between the second and third seasons - a Christmas episode (in American summer) complete with snow and a messy parish Christmas play, but also the requisite murder, various families in pain, and, finally, a newborn baby, born, of course, on Christmas Eve!

A British detective drama, nostalgically set in the post-war 1950s village of Grantchester near Cambridge, it features Anglican Vicar, jazz enthusiast, and former WWII Scots Guards officer Sidney Chambers (James Norton), who regularly teams up in a somewhat unlikely-seeming duo with Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) to solve more murders than might be expected in the neighborhood. 

(The show is based on The Grantchester Mysteries, a series of short stories by James Runcie, son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury, so someone who may know a thing or two about C of E Vicars.)

You can't do a murder mystery without murders, of course. But, while the murders make possible the Sidney-Gordie bromance, the underlying relationship that has ultimately defined Sydney's character from the very first episode of the very first season has been his impossible love for his lifelong friend Amanda. The Christmas episode closes with Sydney and Amanda (holding her newborn) kissing under the mistletoe, making the impossible seem possible if only for Christmas. But, of course, the baby is not his, but Guy's - her more socially suitable but otherwise unsatisfactory husband, whom Amanda had married instead of Sydney but whom she has now left - for a very uncertain and frightening future. For Sydney is a C of E Vicar, after all, and this is 1954, and nobody actually believes it can work for a Vicar to marry or be involved with a (presumptively soon to be) divorced woman!

Setting the story at the superlatively feel-good season of Christmas may make it easier to imagine that the third season will somehow be able to navigate the "situation" (as the characters conveniently call it) and find some way for Sydney to reconcile his vocation as a Vicar and his love for Amanda - and, yes, keep solving murders too!

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