TV TV Reviews

Review – Happy Valley S2

A year and a half after she put Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) in prison, Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) has started to put the events that led up to his arrest behind her. That is until Tommy’s mother’s body is discovered mutilated in a garage, and she is the prime suspect. When he hears of his mother’s untimely demise, Tommy is convinced that Catherine did, in fact, murder her in order to get back at him for the misery he brought into her life. Despite a number of other bodies turning up in the same gory fashion, Tommy remains infatuated with the idea that it was indeed Catherine who killed his mother, and he sets about getting his girlfriend to make sure his presence is not forgotten.

In 2014, Happy Valley exploded onto our screens, and as the weeks passed and the episodes clocked up, it very quickly became apparent that any second season that would surely take place would become one of the most hotly anticipated returns awaited by BBC viewers in years. Well, in February this year, that wait came to an end. Now, I will point out that season two was not quite as good as the first – as was the case with HBO’s True Detective, the pilot season was so superb that it kind of became a victim of its own success. However, that’s not to say it was awful. On the contrary, it was still riotous viewing, just by comparison to the first season, I think everyone was always going to be slightly disappointed purely because it had set itself a very high standard to meet.

Season one of Happy Valley was placed high upon a pedestal for two things – the story and the performances. The latter were as rip-roaringly fantastic as they were the first time.

Sarah Lancashire reminded us of the reasons she won a BAFTA for her portrayal of Catherine in season one with a cracking performance yet again. There was, perhaps, more vulnerability to the role this time round as the series took a look at how Catherine’s life carried on now that Tommy Lee Royce was behind bars. As always, Lancashire pulled it off perfectly with the no-nonsense attitude and dry wit that we came to love Catherine for in the first place.

However, as good as Lancashire was, nobody can deny that the real show stealer last time was the then relatively unknown James Norton, who has since gone onto big things. He didn’t impose such a great physical presence this time, but more of a spiritual one. Of course, that’s not to say that he didn’t heavily influence the storyline. Although he only came face to face with Catherine once in the course of the whole six episodes, the tortuous hold Tommy had over her was everywhere. However, through getting to her, he also tortured himself with the hope of being reunited with his son, and Catherine’s grandson, Ryan. Tommy was never a simple character, but Norton and the writers helped to add even more layers to him this time, and therefore he was, once again, wonderful to watch.

Happy Valley’s writers left the story in quite a nice place, which came as a great relief to myself. Often with the Beeb’s more spectacular dramas, they ruin them with endings that are, quite frankly, rubbish. However, both seasons have ended sensibly, but leave just enough open ended in case they fancy adding another instalment. Sadly though, the show’s creator has said there will not be a season three, and seeing as they struggled to coax Lancashire back for this season, the future of Happy Valley, at least for the foreseeable, is looking pretty bleak.

It had critics raving and gathered itself a massive fan base within the first couple of episodes, so I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to pay a visit to the ironically named Happy Valley. It easily has to have been one of the best dramas the BBC has ever come up with and will certainly have a place in my heart for a long time to come.

9

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