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Synopsis:

Two-time Academy Award® nominee Janet McTeer stars in this gritty prison drama by acclaimed British crime writer Lynda La Plante (Above Suspicion, The Commander). After a disastrous riot at Barfield Prison, Helen Hewitt (McTeer) helps investigate an inmate’s suspicious death. When the governor of Barfield is subsequently ousted, Helen takes the job, becoming the youngest woman in charge of an all-male prison. Determined to clean up the place, she causes resentment among both prisoners and officers with her new ideas and no-nonsense attitude. Despite the odds stacked against her, Helen works tirelessly to earn the respect she deserves.

With shocking plots and pointed social commentary, The Governor delivers a brutal, unflinching look at prison life and the challenges that women in power confront. The excellent cast also includes Academy Award® nominee Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), Eamonn Walker (Chicago Fire, Oz), Derek Martin (EastEnders), Ron Donachie (Game of Thrones), and Golden Globe® winner Idris Elba (Luther, Thor films).

As the sweeping Australian saga returns, four years have passed and nurse Sarah Nordmann (Marta Dusseldorp, Janet King) and her son are safe and happy, despite having to live separately from wealthy patriarch George Bligh (Brett Climo, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga) for political reasons. George’s formidable mother, Elizabeth (Noni Hazlehurst, Little Fish), has finally found love and happiness with her new husband, while her granddaughter, Anna (Abby Earl, The Great Mint Swindle), makes waves as a single socialite. But the Blighs’ contentment is threatened when George’s murderous wife, Regina (Jenni Baird, The 4400), petitions for release from the insane asylum.

Set in 1958, this “captivatingly filmed, deeply romantic drama” (The Wall Street Journal) continues to address thorny social issues with intelligence and aplomb. The phenomenal cast also includes David Berry (Outlander), Craig Hall (The Doctor Blake Mysteries), Sara Wiseman (Mercy Peak), Frankie J. Holden (Something in the Air), Matt Day (Rake [Australia]), Aaron Pedersen (Jack Irish), and Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood (Underbelly).

What We Thought:

The Governor was a show I had always heard good things about, but never saw. Janet McTeer is a very respected actress, but for some reason I just never got around to the show. After watching it, I understand the praise.

The show came out a decade before Orange is the New Black and is way grittier as well. It’s not a light show and McTeer is fantastic in it. The show opens with an intense prison riot, slows down a bit to set up characters and then gets intense again. Think of it as a cross between Oz and The Wire in terms of tone.

It tackles everything from politics to mental health to prisoners’ daily life. It’s heavy, but the acting is top-notch. With shows like this, you want characters to root for, characters to not like and those you’ll see change along the way. This does that well. Ensemble shows can be tough, but I think most characters get fleshed out enough.

If you like McTeer and haven’t seen the show, definitely pick up The Governor The Complete Collection. It’s intense and slows down a bit, but you should be able to binge it over a week like I did. Plus look for a very young Idris Elba who is in two episodes!

A Place to Call Home Season 5 continues to prove that Marta Dusseldorp is one of TV’s best. The series time jumps a bit and finds Sarah away with her son. The first episode deals with a misdiagnosis and the drama follows from there.

What I like about the show is the setting and era. That mid 20th Century timeline provides fantastic production value. Wardrobe, set design and dialogue are of an era that I genuinely enjoy. Add in the backdrop and wow. It’s a perfect spot for a family/love drama.

The season deals heavily with politics and the hospital as expected, but also tackles religion, death and much more. It’s heavy, but the acting is so good.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, I wouldn’t jump in with Season 5, but if you are a fan, Season 5 is a must watch. Think of it as a mid 20th Century Australian Downton Abbey!

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