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Happy Valley: season 1 (DVD)

Happy Valley is a British TV series that stars Sarah Lancashire as a police sergeant upholding the law in a West Yorkshire town that is losing the battle with drugs.  The series may be called Happy Valley, but no one is happy.  And several people become downright miserable throughout the course of events depicted in these six episodes.

Kevin Weatherill, blindly indignant when his boss Nevison Gallagher rebuffs his request for a raise, hatches a plot to kidnap Ann, Nevison's daughter, in order to pocket the ransom money.  You know because kidnap for ransom is an excellent way to raise the money needed to send your daughter to an elite school.  In a fit of ill-advised shock, Kevin enlists the local druglord, Ashley, to run the scheme.  And now there is no turning back from this very slippery slope to hell.

Unfortunately for Kevin and just about everyone else involved but mostly for Ann, Ashley in turn enlists his local hired lads, Louis and Tommy Lee Royce, to 'help'.  Louis isn't so much a bad person--admittedly he sells drugs and agrees to take part in a kidnap plot, but he has lines he won't cross.  However, Tommy is twisted and probably a psychopath.  Every decision he makes related to this kidnap plot advances the whole situation steadily towards what may or may not be a spectacularly bad end from which no one will emerge unscathed.

If the first mistake these low level criminals make is actually committing a kidnap, their second mistake is involving Tommy, a recently released convict with a disturbing attitude toward women.  It is thanks to Tommy's brutal actions that the whole kidnap plot spins out of control and goes from bad to worse and then to hell in the matter of four days depicted across as many episodes.  In fact the first half of this series is largely a study in how bad things can get before they reach rock bottom.

Catherine Cawood is the police sergeant charged with policing this town.  Unfortunately, many of her actions, spurred by Tommy's release from prison, adversely affect the kidnap plot.  But she doesn't find out about the kidnap until it's four days gone, and once she does she's able to put quite a few of the pieces she's been bumping up against together in a web that connects several seemingly unrelated crimes.  Ultimately this series is both a slow burn and a high stakes, pulse pounding, nail biting, suspenseful ride that packs a lot into its six episodes.

Random Rants (You know I had some.)

When your kid is kidnapped, go to the police.  Even if the kidnappers say don't go to the police, go to the police.  Do not try to handle it yourself.  You will only make it worse.  Go. To. The. Police.

Why does everyone end up dead except for the the two people I really want to be dead?  And why does this not surprise me?

I hope Tommy Lee Royce rots in prison.  And by rots, I mean, gets shanked in the showers and dies a painful death.

Tommy is a crap dad.  He lets his kid have a drag on his cigarette.  He gives the kid a beer.  Or is it an energy drink?  I can't tell, but I don't like it.  And how dare his kid be raised by his loving maternal granny without a dad!  Never mind that Tommy's a raping, murdering, misogynist ex-con who doesn't know thing one about raising a kid and wouldn't know love if it bit him in the ass.

I am intrigued to know Tommy's version of his relationship with his kid's mom and what his reaction is to how she died.  But unfortunately the series doesn't explore this.

Kevin is scum.  He almost more infuriating than Tommy because he accepts no responsibility for his part in the kidnap.  It's his boss's fault because he screwed Kevin's father out of his half of the company (allegedly) and then refused to give Kevin the raise he wanted.  It's Ashley the drug lord's fault because if those drugs hadn't (accidentally!) dropped out of that sack right in front of Kevin, it never would have occurred to him to involve the drug lord in the kidnap.  It's his accomplices' fault because they actually did the deed and then took things too far.  And finally it's his wife's fault because she "encouraged" him when he confessed the whole mess to her.  Nothing is ever Kevin's fault and the whole world's out to get him.  Cry me a river.

Why does Kevin expect Nevison to keep paying his salary after he's arrested for the kidnapping and is put in prison to await trial?  Like he's not working and earning it, so why does he expect to get paid for sitting in jail?  Are there laws in the UK that I don't know about?  Or this just another example of Kevin's shirking of the responsibility he has for his current lot in life as well as a sense of entitlement?

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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