Spoiler-Free Review: Happy Valley

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Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) tries to crack down on drug dealers (& other criminals) in her small/rural Yorkshire community.

After watching The Fall, I noticed that MANY fans of that show recommended this one, so I decided to take a look.  After the first two eps, I was hooked.  Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire, who played a supporting role in The Paradise) is the type of cop you’d never see on network TV in the US, or perhaps never as the lead.  She’s a grandmother, no-nonsense, passionate (esp. about her family), and looks like a REAL middle-aged woman!  And when she gets beaten up on the job, the injuries are not quickly covered up w/ makeup. 

Catherine is motivated to be a good cop b/c of her (complicated) family/personal life and an inherent sense of fairness.  She is raising her grandson, Ryan, a good-hearted kid who has been acting out in school recently.  Ryan’s mother was Catherine’s only daughter. 

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Do you recognize her? Clare (Siobhan Finneran from Downton Abbey) is Catherine’s sis!

At home, she has her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran), is a recovering drug addict who provides an ear and a lot of emotional support (in lieu of rent).  Drugs, particularly heroin, have affected MANY of the young people of this valley.  Catherine’s ex-husband, a journalist, remarried years ago, but they still have a connection.  In time, we meet Catherine’s son, Daniel, and learn about their strained relationship. 

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Ashley – left (Joe Armstrong)

There are several well-developed supporting characters, including Joe Armstrong (BBC’s Robin Hood).  I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the cops (in the background, recurring characters) were British Asians (or South Asians, as we say here).  The show is definitely a vehicle for Lancashire, who shows the many sides to a complicated individual.  Her big, expressive blue eyes and authoritative tone are great assets.  I loved ALL the scenes she had with her grandson! 

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Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton)

Catherine is stunned when she sees an ex-con, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton from Grantchurch), from her daughter’s past walking the streets.  She MUST find out more!  To fans of the movie Fargo, the awkwardly-planned/amateur kidnapping will be especially interesting.  Check out this show (Season 1 is on Netflix)- you won’t be disappointed!   

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