A familiar story gets fresh twists in “The South Westerlies.”
That’s a mini-series that arrives Monday (Nov. 9) on the Acorn streaming service (www.acorn.tv). Despite a slow-start and an open-ended finish, it’s a journey worth taking.
And it happens to be a scenic journey. This is set in West Cork, an Irish area popular with tourists, with its jagged coastline and even a tad of surfing.
Kate Ryan (Orla Brady, shown here) used to love summers there, but now she’s strictly a city person, living in Dublin and ready for a promotion to Oslo. First, however, she’s assigned to spend some time in a West Cork village.
And yes, that’s the familiar part. Many of Acorn’s best stories force a city-dweller to live in a small town, soon discovering its charm and quirks. They include “Doc Martin,” “800 Words,” “The Heart Guy,” “Agatha Raisin,” “The Good Karma Hospital” and more.
One difference is that Kate is bringing her teen son. That relationship – single mom/teen son – doesn’t reach TV often; like the one on “Coroner” (a Canadian show on CW), it’s interesting and nuanced.
The other differrence is key: She’s being sent there undercover. Pretending to be a tourist, she’ll try to nudge support for the wind-energy fans her company is ready to install.
Now we’re into the turf of “Local Hero,” a 1983 gem that had an American oil executive trying to buy a Scottish town. He found the place – surprise (?) – quirky and charming.
This time, that’s complicated even more by her deception … and the fact that she’s also toting a personal secret. It takes much of the first hour to get the story rolling.
Soon, however, we get to know the locals … and, as expected, are charmed.
Most of the actors will be unknown to U.S. viewers, with two key exceptions.
– Brady — who is adequate as Kate — was Walter’s wife in “Fringe,” starred in the British version of “Mistresses” and played Lydia (the fierce viceroy who took over her ex-husband’s mansion) in “Into the Badlands.”
– Patrick Bergin – who plays Big Mike, the pub-keeper – is a veteran actor who’s played everyone from Casanova to St. Patrick.
The others may be unfamiliar, but they’re a mostly talented group, in a story that skips easy routes.
Our instinct is to like villagers, working moms and wind power, and to dislike deceptive corporations. But where do we go when a working mom helps an evil corporation trick villagers into accepting wind turbines? There are interesting layers to sort through.