Kick Back TV Mysteries

tv, television, relaxing

(photo: Caitlin Regan, creative commons license)

We may spend the week grappling with the critical affairs of the world and leaky plumbing, but come the weekend, we hope Netflix offers us something entertaining—and nothing’s better than a little crime! You know, something about people with real problems!

These five U.K. and Australian series take you out of the United States altogether, for an armchair vacation to boot. Here they are, from light to dark:

  • Mr. & Mrs. Murder – found CDs of this 13-part Australian series at the local library. It’s about a husband and wife team (Shaun Micallef and Kat Stewart) who clean up after a murder and, of course, end up solving it. The real police detective (Jonny Pasvolsky), is sweet on the Mrs. and never misses a chance to put the husband down. Not one bit serious, just fun.
  • Midsomer Murders – Based on books by Caroline Graham, this veeeeery long-running British series—it began in the late 1990s—has outlasted its original cast. More lately, John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), the “cousin” of the long-running Tom Barnaby (John Nettles), is the lead detective. Tom should never have let wife Joyce out of the house. Whether she was at choir practice or off plein air painting, a murder inevitably ensued in these deceptively charming country villages. Lots of suspects. And, over the years, lots of entertaining sergeant side-kicks. Ever-amazed that the CME always arrives and the scene and already has some conclusions before Barnaby even gets there.
  • The Last Detective – great recommendation from a friend (thanks, B.T.!), based on novels by Leslie Thomas. In this London-base series, sweet, but hapless “Dangerous” Davies (Peter Davison) must deal with the breakup of his marriage, the couple’s shared custody of a very large dog, and the constant badgering of his doltish colleagues but always—yes!—solves the case. His boss, the self-medicating alcoholic DI Aspinwall (Rob Spendlove) is perfect. Friend and perpetual loser Mod (Irish comedian Sean Hughes) is the chief comic foil.
  • Case Histories – Several of Kate Atkinson’s excellent Edinburgh-based mysteries about protagonist Jackson Brodie (Jason Isaacs) have been made into television programs (three two-hour ones and three 90-minute ones), including One Good Turn and When Will There be Good News? Jackson is a defrocked policeman working as a P.I, who’s still called in to advise the Department’s DI Louise Munroe (Amanda Abbington) when he stumbles on a dead body or a juicy case. A little too much flashback about “why he cares,” when the fate of dead young women is involved. Why wouldn’t he? His secretary (Zawe Ashton) is priceless. Cute daughter, too.
  • Jack Irish – Three television movies (Bad Debts, Black Tide, and Dead Point)have been made from the Jack Irish mysteries by Australian writer Peter Temple, with more to come. Guy Pearce plays the eponymous character, and these are the grittiest in this list. I’ve not read Temple’s originals so don’t know whether the excessive plot complications come from the original, but the shows would be better if they were a half hour shorter and without one of two of the endless twists. Between that and the heavy accents, I’ve gone a bit past caring a time or two. Girlfriend journalist Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp) is a charmer. Like the touts and horses.

2 thoughts on “Kick Back TV Mysteries

  1. Oh no, my viewing list just got a lot longer?. Hope my library has a few of these as I am still catching up on House of Cards previous season on Netflix.

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