Follow Genre: Crime, Drama
Distributor: Just Entertainment
Episodes: 6
Duration: 50 min (per episode)

Happy Valley (DVD) – Series Review

Site Score
Good: Exciting plot, great acting, almost no dull scenes
Bad: The rather slow paced aftermath of action-packed events
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

We at 3rd-strike regularly receive a miniseries and there’s a certain trend going on. Miniseries often prove to be nothing less than for example a series consisting of 6 seasons. The beauty of such a series light on episodes is that you won’t need to struggle through less interesting parts. Everything you see on screen is mostly of great importance. Happy Valley is another one of those steadily paced and well-balanced shows where only 6 episodes will make you want to watch the whole thing in one sitting.


Happy Valley is mostly about the life of Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire). She works as a competent police sergeant in West Yorkshire where she’s surrounded by drug addicts, thieves and other sorts of scum. Still, she knows how to keep things in hand and after work, Catherine transforms from a badass ‘copper’ to a caring grandmother and sister. Soon enough, Catherine’s personal troubles come to light. For one, she’s having an affair with her ex-husband. Ryan (Rhys Connah), her grandson, is the result of a brutal rape of Catherine’s own daughter who couldn’t live with herself anymore and decided to end her life. Meanwhile, we’ve got Kevin Weatherill (Steve Pemberton) who whishes nothing more than to give his children the best education money can buy but for that you need … well, money of course. Blushing with embarrassment, Kevin turns to his boss Nevison Gallagher (George Costigan) and politely asks for a raise. When Nevison friendly declines to do so, Kevin is not about to leave things be.

Programme Name: Happy Valley - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows:  Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall

When Catherine’s nemesis, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), the guy who raped her daughter, gets released from prison, everything goes downhill. Kevin, who stills wants to see some green paper from his boss Nevison proposes to some thugs (including Royce) to kidnap Nevison’s daughter Ann (Charlie Murphy). Well, the whole series is mainly about that kidnapping and all consequences of that certain group of thugs. Catherine knows Royce is up to something and will do anything in her power to get that guy behind bars, or worse.

As said before, the series only counts 6 episodes of about 50 minutes each and you might think that’s not a whole lot to really offer a good plot with enough depth and character development. I’m happy to inform you that Happy Valley offers all that and more. Each and every episode is as exciting as the next one and makes you want to see each episode right after one another. Of course, there are some somewhat less engaging parts but that’s the case for about any series. Here, it’s been kept to an absolute minimum as most of the scenes you’ll witness really add value to the overall plot. The only ‘issue’ I encountered when watching the show is that the most action-packed scenes were not in the last few episodes as you’d expect but somewhere in the middle. So as it is now, you’ll witness some major action and plot development in one episode while the one after that is a lot slower paced. Not that it’s a really bad thing but it feels a bit like a letdown after having so much fun with the story progressing at an incredible pace.

Programme Name: Happy Valley - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows:  Lewis (ADAM LONG), Tommy Lee Royce (JAMES NORTON) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Sarah Lancashire plays the main character Catherine Cawood and is awesome at what she does. Her character is about as realistic as possible. You could really bump into someone just like her on the way home for example. Actually, apart from the psychopath Tommy Lee Royce, all characters are just plain and mostly non-interesting folks living their lives… and that’s what makes their performances so good. Playing an everyday character is nothing to underestimate and each and every one of the cast members succeeds in doing just that. It’s exactly what makes this series feel so real and sincere. James Norton also plays his part very, very well. He’s the odd duck out in our company of seemingly normal people and provides just that extra ‘oomph’ the series needs.

Alas, you won’t find any cool extras to watch when you purchase the Happy Valley DVD box. However, for a show that’s just 6 episodes long, that’s quite understandable.


Happy Valley truly surprises in multiple ways, going from the exciting plot to the sublime acting performances. If you’re expecting some incredible sci-fi or horror type of narrative, Happy Valley is certainly not up your alley but I would suggest to give the series a try as the sincerity and realistic setting is something you don’t see every day (on that level of greatness anyways).

Happy Valley 3

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Happy Valley (DVD) - Series Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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