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While HBO was presenting the eighth season of “Game of Thrones” (which many dubbed “Game of Groans”), the channel also was showing something that could be called “Game of Moans.”

Its actual title is “Gentleman Jack,” based on the life of Anne Lister, lesbian in the first half of thee 19th century, when, supposedly, there wasn't yet a word for it. Lister was an interesting woman, but this series again proves interesting people are often tedious when placed at the center of a film or multi-part television series.

The problem with “Gentleman Jack” is that every episode is the same — Lister sets out to seduce her latest love object, Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle), and along the way looks into the camera to tell the audience how things are going. ("I think she loves me; she really, really loves me." And Ms. Walker proves her love by letting Ms. Lister put her hand under her petticoats.)

What’s most unfortunate — to me, at least — is “Gentleman Jack” is probably the reason for the delay or demise of two of television's finest programs — “Last Tango in Halifax” and “Happy Valley.” Sally Wainwright, who created and wrote both shows, put them on the shelf while she developed “Gentleman Jack,” which plays more like soft core 19th century porn than it does compelling drama. Since I've come across a headline online for an interview which promises Ms. Rundle will talk about the nudity in "Gentleman Jack," I assume the two women eventually will go beyond working up a sweat with their clothes on.

To break the monotony of Lister's lust in one of the three episodes I managed to finish, Wainwright stole a scene from HBO’s “Deadwood.” You see, when she's not trying to elicit moans from Ms. Walker, Ann Lister runs an estate willed to her by an uncle. Her tenants include a despicable man who abuses his wife and children. His older son can’t take it any longer, so he slits his father’s throat and leaves the body in a pig pen, because he’d read that pigs will eat anything. Which is old news to anyone who watched the Ian McShane-Timothy Olyphant Western series where pigs were constantly eating bodies.

Oh, about that estate. Anne Lister isn't exactly above board with Ann Walker. In part, Lister courted her because Ms. Walker was fairly wealthy, and, in fact, would wind up paying for most of the improvements Lister makes on her home, Shibden Hall. Lister also is prone to say, "You love me, don't you?" more than profess her feelings toward Ms. Walker. Lister supposedly seduced many women in her life, but loved only one or two, and the first one broke her heart, so she set out to make sure that never happened again. But when Lister had the upper hand, she usually cheated. So if she were a man, this series would be eliciting a far more negative reaction from reviewers.

Still, “Gentleman Jack” is a nice break for Suranne Jones, who plays Anne Lister, though I was distracted by how much Jones looks and sounds Julie Andrews in this role. There were times I expected her to break out singing, "A Spoonful of Sugar."

I'd seen Jones previously in two television series, one of them written by Ms. Wainwright — “Scott & Bailey,” a sort of British version of “Cagney and Lacey.” Jones played Detective Constable Rachel Bailey, who had some things in common with Sharon Gless’s Christine Cagney, though Bailey is much more impulsive, horny and stupid. (What made "Scott & Bailey" bearable was their boss, Detective Chief Inspector Gill Murray, a supervisor quite unlike any I've seen on other police shows, and wonderfully played by Amelia Bullmore.)

Jones also had the title role in “Doctor Foster,” and played the character as though she were Rachel Bailey’s twin sister. Pity the fools who were patients of the always frantic and distracted Dr. Gemma Foster. On the plus side, Suranne Jone is strikingly attractive, and, as Anne Lister, looks great in black and has a terrific walk, with plenty of swagger. Judging by available portraits, the real Lister was nowhere near the head-turner that Suranne Jones is.

You may wonder ... if I found “Gentleman Jack” so boring that I couldn’t get beyond episode three, how can I say the real Anne Lister was so interesting?

Well, what I found interesting in reading about Ms. Lister was not her lesbian lifestyle, but that she recorded everything in a series of diaries that apparently described, in detail, her sexual experiences, BUT wrote those parts in a code she devised. Reportedly, she not only expected her code to remain unbroken, but thought her diaries would be destroyed soon after her death.

But Ann Walker kept those diaries, and eventually they fell into the hands of Anne Lister’s relatives, one of whom became determined to decipher the code. This would make for a wonderful book (and probably already has). As a needlessly long television dramatization, however, Lister’s story is sleep-inducing.

Also, “Gentleman Jack” begins when Ann Lister is 45 years old. Since she died at 49, I figured there'd be no second season. I certainly had hoped that would be the case, and that Wainwright would get back to work on either “Last Tango in Halifax” or “Happy Valley” — or both.

Alas, those series will remain in limbo, because HBO already has ordered a second season, which suggests to me that Lister's story, what remains of it, will proceed at a pace that would even try the patience of a snail.

Meanwhile, I'll think of the marvelous Sarah Lancashire, who stars in both "Last Tango" and "Happy Valley," and wonder what might have been. For anyone who hasn't seen these programs, they come highly recommended. Lancashire is particularly good as a police sergeant in “Happy Valley,” a sarcastic title if there ever was one (and not to be confused with the similarly-titled documentary about Penn State football coach Joe Paterno). I know police shows are a dime a dozen, but "Happy Valley" is special, as is Lancashire. Something I cannot say about "Gentleman Jack."

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