12 July 2023

Xena Redux


So, now that I’m thoroughly hooked on Candice Renoir, the powers that be have made the show unavailable for streaming as of the Season 7 debut, which leaves us hung out to dry, at least in the English-speaking television world.  (The series runs another four seasons, and three dozen episodes, before cancellation late last year.)

Same song, different day.  How do you fill the gap when you’re invested, emotionally, in these relationships and outcomes, and all of a sudden you’re Jonesing?  You’d think I might be used to it, by now. 

I can recommend Brokenwood, but not unreservedly.  It’s got the Ozzie-slash-Kiwi thing down, which helps when you’re lonely for the Blake mysteries, but it’s also vaguely reminiscent of Death in Paradise, meaning it can favor the silly.  It reminds you that it’s all a fiction – and not simply made up, but a handshake between the creatives and the audience, when too much of a knowing wink into the camera will spoil the illusion.  I also find it aggravating that while the medical examiner, Gina, is attracted to the lead, Mike, her sexual appetites are played for laughs, and a sign of desperation.  I could do with a little less Our Miss Brooks.  In other words, Brokenwood seems stuck in the wrong era, with some lazy conventions.

Which brings us to My Life Is Murder.  Also an Ozzie show, but after the first season, set in Melbourne, it decamps to Auckland, showing its New Zealand roots.  Because, my dears, the star and exec producer of the show is none other than Lucy Lawless.  Yes, she’s done Battlestar Galactica, and she’s done Spartacus, but those are ensemble casts, and I want to see her in a lead, kicking ass and taking names.  (Yes, since of course you’re wondering, Renee O’Connor does a guest shot in Season 2.) 

Some of us were resistant to the charms of Xena – certainly they mangled Greek mythology – but some of us were equally impervious to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  What fools these mortals be.  My Life Is Murder, I hasten to say, isn’t supernatural in the slightest.  It’s a straight-up detective show.  The scripts are inventive, and the resolutions convincing.  She, the heroine, is a former cop herself, and a cop’s widow.  She gets files, often cold cases, from a pal who’s still active-duty.  We know that in real life, no police agency in the world would countenance such a thing; any good defense attorney would take you off at the knees.  We can allow for dramatic license.  It works, in context.  Some of the other tropes are a bit labored, some of the forensic shortcuts challenge our suspension of disbelief, but whaddya want?  We’re trying to wrap this up in 45 minutes. 

It depends, naturally, on the actor and the character she plays.  Lucy Lawless carries the show, just as Cecile Bois carries Candice Renoir.  There’s more than a passing resemblance in the premise of the two series.  Lucy Lawless is 55, Cecile Bois is 51.  They’re playing strong women who’ve been buffeted by Fate – a cliché, but no less workable for that.  They’re attractive, and sexy, and don’t suffer fools (although you wish Candice would suffer fewer of them).  I think this is a welcome development.  There was Unforgotten, with Nicola Walker, now headlining Annika.  We’ve got Happy Valley, and Vera. 

Give it a shot.  I think it has a lot of charm, and humor.  It tends to skate on the surface, and not go deep into dark waters, but sometimes that does the trick. 


  1. I love My Life is Murder, and am awaiting with bated breath a 4th season.
    Oh, and if you haven't seen it, the Australian miniseries Cloudstreet is available on Acorn. Definitely worth watching.

  2. Thanks for these David! And for Cloudstreet, Eve. I loved Annika, and am looking for a new series. Reminds me that I should do a similar post, because I so appreciate it when others here put me on to new shows. (and I mainly watch Acorn, Britbox and Prime - the European and Aussie/NZ shows)

  3. Sadly, Cloudstreet is no longer available on Acorn. Candice Renoir and My Life is Murder were both a delight to watch. I also recommend Whitstable Pearl on Acorn. Set in a coastal town in England, Kerry Godliman operates as a private detective while running a restaurant. Her co-star, Howard Charles, plays an enigmatic police detective who struggles to deal with her interference in his cases. They are both well-drawn, complex characters. The two seasons are well worth watching.

  4. At times like this I miss television. David, we are seeing cases where detectives are sharing very cold case information with internet-based amateur investigation groups (not individuals that I'm aware of). They are seeing success, which encourages police to share more. Authorities view this as crowd-sourcing or crowd-sharing. I imagined these began as armchair researchers, but some cases have gone beyond with amateur 'boots on the ground', so to speak. Success breeds success, so this may result in a new sub-genre.


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