If you’ve ever seen a British murder/detective series, Deadloch will feel incredibly familiar to you. But with an Australian flourish. So, take the small-town murders, the pair of cop-opposites, sprinkle in a couple quirky deputies, a handful of wacky locals and lots and lots of ‘fucks.’ That last part is the especially Australian piece of the equation. Oh, and lesbians. That’s not particularly Australian per se, but is relevent to this Tasmanian town, Deadloch, which just so happens to have a large cadre of gay women. Point is, at times this dramedy doesn’t play the murdered citizen thing as straight as your typical gloomy Broadchurch or Hinterlands of the TV world. Or even other Aussie shows like Top of the Lake, or the sci-fi, but deadly serious, small-town murder mystery, The Kettering Incident.
The setup here is pretty simple. There’s this tiny town in Tasmania where problematic men are washing up dead on the regular. The manner in which they’re murdered leads to the belief that it’s the work of a serial killer. The town’s lead cop, Dulcie Collins (Kate Box), is struggling to track down the killer, so her boss sends down a seasoned detective, Eddie Redcliffe (Madeleine Sami), from the “big city” to lead the investigation. Collins is the buttoned-up law woman with the zany wife, and Eddie is the caustic, f-bomb throwing disaster who left something behind at her old gig in Darwin. It’s an Odd Couple situation to be sure. It’s Bad Boys. Hell, it’s a little bit of Lethal Weapon. One sane, by-the-rules one. One pretty insane, do-whatever-she-wants one. And now they have to work together to solve an unfolding serial killer thing.
Toxic men. They’re dying in this town, and the gaggles of lesbians care, but don’t really care, about it. It’s not as if we’re losing our best, as the saying doesn’t go. To the mayor, who is also one of the, uh, clan, these murders are mostly an inconvenience to her planned festival. The coroner is dating one of the town police deputies and is a misogynistic dick who is way more interested in furthering his profile than helping his own fiancée solve these murders. The whole town seems to have some sort of connection to the dead men, and most seem to have motive to murder at least one or more of them. Alibis are dubious. And the people are your typical collection of wack-jobs, narcissists and small-town jokers. Sometimes the energy is a little manic for my taste, especially when it comes to Sami’s performance. Her potty mouth never ceases, and sometimes it feels like she’s in a different show. She’s in The Mask and the rest of the cast is in The Truman Show. Sure, she can be really funny, but sometimes you just need a break. Which you also won’t get with Dulcie’s wife, Cath (Alicia Gardiner). Her character may be one of the more annoying in recent memory. A nervous, shaky-dog of a woman, but also manipulative and out-and-out irritating. On purpose, of course. But off-putting nonetheless.
That all said, this was an entertaining show. The comedy makes it a bit more tolerable than it otherwise would have been as a straight murder mystery drama. Granted, it goes real serious and dark when the killer is unmasked. Which was a bit of a head-shaker, but not unusual for these types of narratives, I suppose. Gotta have stakes, which is something darkness and violence gives you. The plot does go in circles trying to get to that point; the elimination of suspects often coming as a result of one or the other of our lead detectives spotting something random on a board that triggers a miraculous thought in them. It’s a bit hokey at times, and kind of feels like a crutch. But it’s excusable, as this isn’t like hard detective (for lack of a better term). You know, the same way Ace Ventura was a detective, but we didn’t really care that much how he found the stupid dolphin, just as long as we had fun along the way. Because everything comes back to Jim Carrey eventually. Honestly, I have no clue if anyone else on the planet Earth has seen this show. It certainly doesn’t feel like it. So I can tell you that if you’re not squeamish (about male full-frontal or lots and lots of cussing), you should check this series out. It’s not going to necessarily be on your year-end list, but it’s an enjoyable enough romp to satisfy that foreign comedy cop show that you might be searching for.