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Grantchester Character Review: Amanda Kendall

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In an ideal world, we would not have to choose between our heads and our hearts. But we don’t live in an ideal world. The decision between our heart and our heads is sometimes the only choice, as difficult as it maybe. On Grantchester, Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie) is best friends with Sidney Chambers (James Norton). They seem like the perfect couple. But perfect is not always meant to be.

Amanda is an heiress who works at the National Gallery in London. Marriage to a small town curate is not exactly what her family envisioned for her. Though she married Guy Hopkins (Tom Austen), their marriage is not always sunshine and roses. When her marriage is on the brink of dying, Amanda is pregnant and leaves her husband. Running to the vicarage and to Sidney, they begin a will they or won’t they relationship in spite of the fact that she is still married. After her daughter is born, their relationship becomes even more complicated with Amanda wanted to divorce Guy.

But Amanda has to make a choice, as does Sidney. They can formalize their relationship, knowing the scandal it will create. Or they can go their separate ways, knowing how painful it will be.

To sum it up: the choice between one’s head and one’s heart is both difficult and life changing. The person forced to make the choice knows what lies in front of them. But it must be done, regardless of the cost of that decision.

That is why Amanda Kendall is a memorable character.

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Grantchester Character Review: Sidney Chambers

My character review from Roseanne and The Conners has reached its end. Onto the next set of characters.

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series GrantchesterRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Grantchester to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to clergy people of any religion, we expect them to act and think in a certain way. We expect them to be buttoned down, conservative and living as close to the tenets of their faith as they can. In Grantchester, Sydney Chambers (James Norton) breaks all of those rules and more.

A World War II veteran and a man of the cloth, Sydney Chambers’s life is more than the Church. Drawn into the world of crime fighting, his ability to read and understand the human condition puts a new spin on his extracurricular activities. Paired with veteran policeman Geordie Keating (Robson Green), Sidney is the ying to Geordie’s yang.

When he is not doing his clerical work or fighting crime, Sidney can be found with a drink in his hand and a jazz record playing in the background. He can also be found with his best friend, Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie). Sidney is in love with Amanda. But according to the rules of 1950’s England, a woman of Amanda’s stature does not marry a clergyman, especially one whose parish is in the country.

Throughout his journey, it is Sidney’s heart that both helps him and gets him in trouble. When a pregnant Amanda walks away from her marriage, she goes to Sidney. The “will they or won’t they” questions hovers above their relationship, but ultimately becomes a won’t they as Sidney chooses the Church over Amanda.

In the end, Sidney’s heart chooses his fate. Falling in love with an African-American woman, he leaves England, his chosen profession and his friends for a new life in the States.

To sum it up: Sidney Chambers is one complicated character. Though he is a man of the cloth, he is far from the stereotype of a clergy person. As an audience member, I personally find the contradictions to be interesting. As a writer, we look for ways to break molds in characters and allow them to stand out.

Sidney Chambers stands out, which is why he is a memorable character.

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Grantchester Series 3/My Mother And Other Strangers Series 1 Review

There is nothing so wonderful (at least from my perspective) as settling down on a Sunday night and knowing that the programming on Masterpiece Theater/Mysteries will help with the realization that the weekend is over.

On Sunday night, not only did the first episode of the third season of Grantchester air, but also a new show premiered, My Mother And Other Strangers.

Grantchester picks up just a few months after series 2 ended. The bromance/murder solving duo of Vicar Sydney Chambers (James Norton) and Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) are back together again. But while Sydney and Geordie deal with the crimes that are happening in and around Grantchester, Sydney has another thing on his plate: his relationship with Amanda Hopkins (Morven Christie). Amanda is heavily pregnant and in the midst of divorcing her husband. While they are happily ensconced in finally being together, the storm of Amanda’s soon to be ended marriage and impending motherhood creates more than one barrier to their own version of happily ever after.

My Mother And Other Strangers takes place in Northern Ireland during World War II. Rose and Michael Coyne (Hattie Morahan and Owen McDonnell) have a full life of kids, work and just being busy. The war has yet to intrude into their world. It comes in the form of American servicemen, Captain Dreyfuss (Aaron Staton) and Lieutenant Barnhill (Corey Cott). Captain Dreyfuss seems to be paying more attention to Rose than her husband while Lieutenant Barnhill is interested in 16-year-old Emma Coyne (Eileen O’Higgins). The story is narrated by an adult Francis (Rose and Michael’s son). Ciaran Hinds tells the story in voice over flashback as an adult while 10-year-old Francis is played by Michael Nevin.

I’ve enjoyed Grantchester since the first season. Cop procedural shows tend to get a little boring when the only thing that the audience sees is inside the squad room or investigating the scene of a crime. Grantchester adds to this bland story by making the characters human and allowing the audience to see the lives and struggles of the characters outside of work. I was attracted to My Mother And Other Strangers because of the cast and how compelling the series seemed based off the trailer. The problem is that it is a little boring and it has yet to completely hook me in.

Do I recommend them? I say yes to Grantchester and maybe to My Mother And Other Strangers.

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Grantchester Review

Sydney Chambers (James Norton) is a most unusual member of the clergy. In Grantchester, Sydney is drawn into a series of murders in his small English town. Pairing with a policeman Geordie Keating (Robson Green), they are the Starsky and Hutch of rural England. Adding to the drama is that Sydney’s go to gal pal, Amanda Kendall (Morven Christie) is engaged. I have a feeling that Sydney’s feelings are more than platonic.

I watched the first episode last night. While it took a little longer than expected to become hooked, by the end of the episode, I can safely say that I enjoyed the episode and I am looking forward to the next one.

I recommend it.

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