Yes, we know fascism and fascist are pejorative terms but we think that the TV series Vera along with the eponymous lead character deserves that term. We like the series but Vera is a proper fascist. Wikipedia tell us that fascism is characterized by:
dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.
Vera is a dictatorial power who suppresses the opposition and wants every move of every citizen recorded on CCTV. In almost every procedural drama jurisdiction is a big issue. It is not on Vera. Not only is there no higher police power in Great Britain than Vera but there seems be be no other power than her anywhere in Northumberland or even Scotland. She is a tyrant at the murder scene and in the office. If you need a drinking game count every time Vera refers to somebody as “luv” or “pet.”
Sidebar: To get all nine series (ten is in production) you need to have both Britbox and Acorn. The former is $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year and the latter is $5.99 a month so they are cheap if you are interested in shows from Britain and other English speaking places. End Sidebar.
Because Vera is such a fascist it is no surprise that the cast is constantly changing. She has a boy-toy sergeant, Joe in series 1-4 and Aiden in 5-9 to chase the bad guys and to come up with theories that she can shoot down. We don’t know if Vera drives out the pathologists but she is up to number four. The only person in all the shows besides Vera is the long suffering Kenny (detective sergeant Lockhart played by Jon Morrison). And there is usually a buxom black woman detective (Wunmi Mosaku, Cush Jumbo, or Ibinabo Jack).
Why do we enjoy and recommend Vera if the lead character is such a fascist? It is Les Miserables where Vera, a modern day Javert is the protagonist. We think there are three reasons to recommend it. One is the photography. Vera goes interesting places in the northeast of England. Often she meets Joe or Aiden in interesting places to discuss the case. The site finder does a great job.
Death is serious drama. The victim in most shows is often a real bastard so there are lots of suspects and very little drama about the victim’s death. In Vera they often turn it around where the victim is often closer to beloved and question is why the murder. It also means that the death of the victim is tragic affair. The scenes where the body is identified or Vera delivers the bad news are well done. The survivors grieve while Vera wants to ask questions.
The best part of the show is Vera’s monomania. She wants to punish those who have broken laws. Vera, of course, is not distracted by the sadness of the death announcements. Her attempts to provide comfort to the survivors make clear her lack of humanity. Another great example that only shows up a couple of times is the detective, about Vera’s age, in the police basement in Missing Persons department. He tries to move heaven and earth for Vera but she is careful to never have a kind word for him. She drives her subordinates (you can’t call them a team because it is all about Vera) mercilessly. She is cruel to almost everyone but especially Kenny who she has a special ability to ignore. She berates witnesses and especially suspects. We don’t keep careful count but our guess is that the number of different people she accuses of murder is over three before one confesses.
The endings are particularly tragic as Vera punishes those who have broken the law. One scenario is the destruction of a family. For example, one spouse killed the victim but the other spouse disposed of the body so the children will have both parents in jail. Vera is sure to charge them both. The other common scenario is where the perp asks Vera for solace by saying, “It is only [some lesser crime] and not murder.” Most humans would give some version of it is up to the prosecutor, judge and jury because it is. Vera will have none of that and she starts out, “No, it is premeditated because …..”
We enjoy Vera. If you like tragedies you might like it too.