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Monday, January 26, 2015

Bletchley Circle

Yesterday, I wrote about "The Imitation Game" and Alan Turing's work at Bletchley Park, an area in England where he and his colleagues broke the Enigma code the Nazis used during World War II.

Before I leave the subject entirely, I want to recommend the TV show "Bletchley Circle." It was made a couple of years ago for British TV and then aired here on PBS, but I missed it until my wife noticed that it was streaming on Netflix.

It starts in the same intelligence compound where Turing and his colleagues worked, but focuses on some of the women who worked there deciphering Enigma messages for the Allies after Turing broke the code. They, too, used their talents as puzzle-solvers to contribute to the war effort, but when the war was over, they went their separate ways, sworn to never reveal what they'd been a part of.

Seven years later, one of the women became obsessed with the story of a serial killer in London. She noticed a pattern in the crimes, but when the police wouldn't pay any attention, she tracked down some of her former colleagues to help her solve the case. Playing out over the three episodes of its first season, the plot was tense, clever, and engaging. The four actresses were really good, and the direction kept us in suspense as they worked through the clues.

The women of the Bletchley Circle returned for a four-episode second season to solve two more crimes, but weren't renewed for a third. I'm surprised no American network has bought the rights and turned it into a series here. Perhaps they're reticent to base a show on four middle-aged women in England in 1952-53, but the concept could easily be transposed to a modern scenario with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who've been involved in covert code-breaking who team up to solve crimes.

Until that happens, "Bletchley Circle" is streaming on Netflix and certainly worth your time.