By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Whenever Netflix releases new shows, they always put a little tag under the graphic that says “New Episodes.” The other day, “Happy Valley” had that label and at first, it seemed like it might be a comedy.
But it was far from it. Turns out “Happy Valley” is an incredible new police series, exclusive to Netflix in the United States (created by the BBC), with a six-episode run.
The six episodes were as intense as any TV as there’s been in quite some time.
It’s a show with two distinct plots that have a major connection. One story line surrounds police Sgt. Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire, who comes from a most dysfunctional family.
She divorced after her daughter killed herself, right after the daughter had a child that was fathered by a rape. The father of the child, Ryan, is Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton. Cawood’s sister is a recovering heroin addict. And her son wants little to do with her.
The second plot surrounds Kevin Weatherill, a down-on- his-luck bookkeeper who wants to send his daughters to private school. But he can’t afford the tuition. So, he asks his boss and long-time friend Nevison Gallagher for a raise in salary.
But Gallagher declines the offer at first.
To fix this, Weatherill devises a plan where three men he knows — including Royce — will kidnap Gallagher’s daughter, Ann, and demand ransom. The four will split the ransom, ideally, and Weatherill will have more than enough money to send his daughters to the private school.
Sounds like the movie “Fargo” in way, doesn’t it, where Jerry Lundegaard has his wife kidnapped to make money from her dad?
And of course, just like in “Fargo,” you can rest assured in “Happy Valley,” it’s just not as simple as kidnapping someone, a ransom demand — the criminals get the ransom and everyone lives happily ever after.
No, it’s not even close to that — and that’s why “Happy Valley” is intense and unpredictable.
So much goes wrong over the course of six episodes for Cawood and Weatherill. But it’s hardly the kind of stuff you’d be able to sit back and forecast.
The follies of the two lead characters are what make this new series so great. Nothing one witnesses can be seen as predictable. Not at all. But for the sake of not spoiling the six episodes, we’ll leave it at that.
Though the show is filmed entirely in England, it’s very easy to follow. The accents aren’t thick. And the town, in West Yorkshire, is a lot like our local towns — with lots of hard-working, middleclass families.
Perhaps the only drawback to the show is that it’s loaded with violence and graphic imagery — but that all gets lost in the incredible writing and incredible storylines.
The episodes were so good that this writer watched them all in a seven-hour span.
If you’re looking for a new Netflix show, and you enjoy suspenseful police dramas that aren’t necessarily about police procedure, “Happy Valley” will keep you wanting more. And the good news is there’s already a second series planned for just around this time next year.
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