Lucy Lawless is so divine she can make just about anything work, but she has her work cut out for her in My Life is Murder, 10’s new whodunnit series.
Lawless stars as Alexa Crowe a retired-too-young Melbourne detective commandeered to assist on unsolved cases by former colleague Detective Inspector Kieran Knight (Bernard Curry).
He manages to coax her away from her new German breadmaking machine and stray cat companion (these were nice touches) to apply her nous to the case of a dead body, who was the customer of a male escort (Lindsay Farris). Did she fall from his apartment balcony or was she pushed?
“To the living we owe respect, to the dead the truth,” says Kieran, quoting Voltaire, before adding, “You shit at retirement.”
But the lively Alexa can’t help but be intrigued by his manila folder of clues and the hunt begins, aided by stylish police data analyst Madison (Ebony Vagulans).
Set against a saturation of Melbourne cityscapes / trams and a pulsating, whimsical soundtrack the tone set by director Leah Purcell is light and modern, leaning heavily on the buoyancy of its central character a la Miss Fisher or Jessica Fletcher.
Indeed, Lawless is in just about every scene, whether at home puzzled by her pussy or embedding herself, feigning various identities, in the world of her killer and associated jeopardy. In the first episode it’s the sexy romance getting close to the male gigolo, and in the second it’s indie music and drug capers with guest Danielle Cormack.
Lawless makes for a sympathetic lead, but there is too little of other principals and the script by Matt Ford answers little of what drives her to go along for the ride. Sure, we can overlook her trespass and break & enter habits in pursuit of said truth, but is she doing this merely as a good samaritan or for rent? If she left the force due to the loss of her partner, I’m confused about how this helps her move on….
There are other problems too, with Madison a funky fashionista but showing too little of data skills other than tapping a keyboard and spitting out answers. And the resolution of episode one was pretty awful, down to the on-cue arrival of copper Kieran.
That said, My Life is Murder is certainly not looking to be sophisticated, nor dark, but a weekly whodunnit showcasing an engaging lead. It arrives with some outward zest, on the back of the excellent Five Bedrooms.
Fingers crossed it can find a crowd ready to follow the clues.
My Life is Murder premieres 8:40pm Wednesday 17 July on 10.