“The Bletchley Circle” is, in many ways, a mystery and costume drama typical of what we expect from British television that makes its way to PBS. The twist in this case is that the era is the early 1950s, and the detectives are all women that happened to work together as codebreakers during World War II. While fairly obviously commenting on societal sexism in that era, the show is also a well-produced serial killer story with more than a few moments of suspense.
After the war, the four women have mostly unrewarding jobs and uneventful lives at home. Their wartime career was a state secret; their husbands and friends are unaware of their past. Susan Gray, played by Anna Maxwell Martin, has been following news stories about a series of murders and believes she has discovered a pattern that the police have missed. She enlists the help of her friends, and, with some initial reluctance, they are off and running. Of course, most of the authorities don’t want to listen to these silly girls so they have to solve the case themselves.
The first season or series of “The Bletchley Circle” plays out over three episodes of about 45 minutes each. It is currently available for Netflix streaming and instant viewing. As of early 2014, “The Bletchley Circle” season 2 has been produced for ITV in England, but was not yet available stateside. The other actors include Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham, and Sophie Rundle, who is also known for her brief appearances as a stalker girlfriend in “Episodes,” the Showtime series.
Though “The Bletchley Circle” is not as gripping or compelling as some of the other foreign TV series reviewed here, it is an entertaining drama that fans of British mystery shows are likely to enjoy.