Thursday, April 19, 2018

James Norton

Vogue March 2018
Grantchester is one of my favorite BBC crime dramas. Set in the idyllic English town of the same name during the 1950's, the handsome and vulnerable vicar drinks whiskey, smokes and listens to jazz while he struggles the balance of being a vicar and a man who loves his best friend, who has married her father's choice. Well, that was a mouthful! But it's all there in Grantchester. Another of the story lines that is charming is of his curate Leonard. Social awkward and gay, he finds a home in the vicarage of James Norton's character. The sensitive vicar is the best ally to assist poor Leonard in his battle against himself to live, as Oprah would say, his best life.

Norton was also in the series "Happy Valley," a real copper show that has him as an evil, criminal creating havoc in another English village. He's brilliant in the show, however, the true star is the female copper, Catherine Cowood, played by Sarah Lancashire. She's a ball buster make no mistake about it. And she's not a lot of what is typical in an American crime drama. Catherine is of a certain age, wears a uniform (not stilettos and mini skirts), and is so not perfect. I happened to catch a rerun of "Elementary," the American television show that stars  Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Lui as his Watson. I have enjoyed the show in the past but while watching it again, I remembered that I was always thrown off by considering what Lucy Lui was wearing on the show. I didn't care for her style, and it was haute, and the shoes! What gum shoe could work for real with that get up.

And for this reason, I prefer BBC crime and detective series. Not only for the costumes, but for the fact that the producers of those shows are not ageist. Surely, some of the characters, like Grantchester, are handsome, but you are more likely to see a normal person play the role. And the normal person may even be over forty! I notice it. And I have to wonder, is it the creators or the audience that dictates this? Can Americans watch normal people act in television shows? Or is the American public so brainwashed by what I might call the 'Kardashian Effect' that they are only happy with what isn't really very ... real. An American crime show that I also liked was "Castle." My mom turned me on to it when we traveled together a few years ago. I liked the chemistry of the two main characters, and the sidekicks were pretty handsome, but Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), the detective in the series, always wore the most improbable shoes for someone who may have to chase a perpetrator down an alley. It distracted from the criminal aspect of the show.

I'm looking forward to another season of Grantchester. Apparently, it will be James Norton's last, which is too bad. He has apparently gone on to another show and possible, James Bond. Such is life as our own become everyone else's as well. I'm not too worried ... I know that the BBC, of whom I trust for the best in mystery and crime, has something else coming along for me to watch.

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