April 14, 2014

The Bletchley Circle: Season 2 (2013)
PBS Home Video

180 mins. Not Rated
16x9 1.85:1

Format
Blu-Ray

Audio
English - DD 2.0

Subtitles
English

Extras
Inerview Featurette

Starring
Hattie Morahan, Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham, Sophie Rundle

Review by
Guido Henkel


Rating



(2013)

The code breaking ladies from Bletchley are back once again in the second season of PBS' TV series "The Bletchley Circle." Seeing how much I enjoyed the show's first season, I was very eager to take a closer look at the second season as well, to see what trouble the former code breakers would get themselves into this time.

During the Second World War, one of the key efforts of England's government lay in the field of cryptography. It was imperative for the country to be able to read and intercept German messages to know, countermeasure and sabotage German war efforts and a potential invasion of British soil. Therefore, in the city of Bletchley, code breakers are stationed, doing their best to decypher German codes. It is work only the smartest and most analytically-minded people can do, and among the best of them is a small, tight-knit circle of women who truly excel at what they do. But with the war over and the ladies' ingenuity no longer required by the home department, the days when Susan and the girls felt the thrill of their work is long gone and the brutal murder mystery they solved in the past season is well behind them.

But new trouble arises when Alice (Hattie Morahan), one of the girls, is arrested for the murder of one of the circle's former Bletchley colleagues. Strangely, however, Alice refuses to defend herself, even when the court sentences her to hang. Her friends, however, find it inconceivable that Alice had killed the man she once secretly loved and, without Alice's knowledge or support, begin to dig deeper into the case, determined to find out what really happened and, most importantly, who really killed Harry.

But being put in the line of fire and danger, Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) is no longer sure she wants to be a part of the Circle's doings. While she helps reluctantly, she is relieved when her husband is taking a post with the foreign office, which takes them far away from London. But just then her friend Millie (Rachael Stirling) could use here analytical mind, because out of a job and desperate for money, she got herself in a spot of trouble dealing in black-market goods. When she is abducted, her friends, spurred on by Jean (Julie Graham), leave no stone unturned to find out what happened to their friend, once again putting themselves right in the front line of danger.

"The Bletchley Circle" has appeal on various fronts, I have always felt. The unlikely heroines make up a large part of the attraction of the show, but so does the post-war England backdrop with its gritty atmosphere and the ruthless survival-driven character of the people at the time who barely escaped a Nazi invasion.

With each of the women in the circle having her own character and personality, there is a good mix here of recklessness, timidness, leadership and deductive thinking. They characters nicely contribute to the overall mix and the addition of the comparably quiet Lizzie (Faye Marsay) to replace Susan adds a new layer to the personality onion.

Ultimately it is, however, the clever approach the women take to crack the cases that makes the show appealing. Without support from official law enforcement, they are usually on their own, digging through archives, newspaper articles and photographs to piece together the hidden stories behind the events.

Featuring four episodes, this second season of "The Bletchley Circle" is presented as a 2-disc Blu-Ray release by PBS Home Entertainment, giving the show plenty of room to breathe. It shows in the beautiful 1080p transfer that is free of defects and holds an impressive level of detail throughout. Colors are nicely rendered, bringing to life the grimy world the show plays in, without missing out to set colorful highlights that truly pop out and balance the show's look.

A stereo audio track accompanies the show, which is absolutely satisfactory, as the show never relies on furious action or gimmicks to draw in its viewers, but appeals more to the thinking core who want to take in the plot at a moderate pace that allows them to ponder the unfolding events and put them in context.

The release also contains a bonus featurette with cast and crew interviews to round out the release.

Once again "The Bletchley Circle" delivered the goods. It is a great show that sees a great high definition presentation on this release. The only drawback there is, is that I wish the season would be longer, because you will breeze through the four episodes and end up wanting more. A whole lot more of it!

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