The Bletchley Circle (2012)

Reviewer: Rissi C.
  
When the masterful 2005 version of Bleak House aired, viewers were introduced to the talent of Anna Maxwell Martin. Since then she went on to star in a number of smaller roles, but now she is restored as a leading lady – and she does it all rather marvelously in this three-part mini-series.
  
Ordinary is not a word one could ascribe to Susan (Martin). She loves puzzles and can't seem to shut off her brain no matter how hard she tries. Nine years after WWII, Susan is living an ordinary life with two children and a husband whose career is on the brink of brilliant success. As a code-cracker during the war, Susan has kept her work a secret but now there's been a string of horrible murders and she’s come up with information that could aid the police in their investigation. When the information produces no results, Susan reaches out to her former colleagues in Lucy (Sophie Rundle), Millie (Rachel Stirling) and Jean (Julie Graham). Lucy is involved in an unhealthy relationship and Millie is still smarting from Susan’s dismissal of their friendship, having once planned to have grand adventures together.
  
Although skeptical of Susan’s ideas, the girls eventually band together, knowing there is more to Susan’s patterns than the police give her credit for. They use their training and any resources they can find to follow the serial killer’s path. These clues may lead them right to his doorstep – and possibly endanger their own lives.
  
Amazon browsing led me to stumble on this series. I was drawn to it for several reasons, such as its leading lady. I became intrigued after comparisons were made to the brilliant Foyle’s War in other’s reviews. To judge the series by comparison may not be fair but it certainly resembles the clever crime drama while holding its own, proving it can be equally as exciting, clever and addicting in unique ways. The only flaw in it is the series spans a mere three one-hour episode run and there are  no plans to produce more.

  

I'm not sure that since Foyle’s War, I’ve met a cast of such a delightful set of characters. It's more fun than I expected to follow the women as they deduce and find clues to put away a murderer, while trying to convince the police of their findings in the meantime. Each woman has a specialty and adds her own piece to the puzzle during the case. Anna Maxwell Martin is terrific in this part. She’s compassionate yet elicits sympathy from us for her apparent inability to calm her busy mind; what she doesn’t realize is that to her children, just being their “mummy” is enough. Underneath the obvious, she’s an interesting character and one with great potential should the series continue.
 
Though the audience had more to go on than some mysteries, I was impressed how well writers' strung us along with their clues. More is revealed than we might expect before the end but it doesn't detract from the chase. The filming is impressive, building suspense when it should but taking time out to display the characters' lighter sides. Unfortunately, The Bletchley Circle is not all “good.” The premise may be written with precision but it’s sometimes dark. The minds of criminals isn't a pleasant place to be, yet this series finds the right balance. Sadly, there are no plans as of yet to bring this to the States, which is a shame since it’s jolly good fun.

 

 

Sexual Content:

Lucy is nearly raped on a train before she manages to escape; her captor tosses her around and roughly kisses her, leaving her body bruised. A man agrees to a favor in exchange for sex but it refused. Provocative sex crime cards are glimpsed in two or three shots.

  

Language:

Perhaps a British slang word or two.

  

Violence:

One victim is seen screaming, tied up and later, when discovered, her clothing is in disarray as she lies bloody and lifeless. Conversation reveals how victims are murdered (killed then raped). Spousal abuse is also present. A man is shot multiple times.