Three Pines

Three Pines: Season 1

Three Pines
Genre: Police Drama
Service: Prime Video
Release Year: 2022
Watch: Prime Video

This image of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (Alfred Molina) sheepishly peeking out from behind a skinny tree that clearly isn’t hiding shit is kind of an encapsulation of this entire series. There’s a… Canadian-ness to the show that goes beyond twee and into a weird, quiet that borders on politeness. Gamache, despite investigating murders, speaks as if he’s inspecting a bakery for health code violations. Or interviewing an old lady with a missing cat. Perhaps this is a choice by Molina, but more likely it’s just the strange, stilted approach the show’s creators chose for it.

And, look, I don’t need all my cop, mystery series to be gritty or shoot-y, or edgy, or even… good. But this series is just boring. Like truly a drag. Molina quietly walks up to things and points to them in a calm, quiet voice and talks about how a woman was electrocuted in a metal lawn chair while sitting watching a curling match. Curling. Literally the most boring of all “sports.” The whole thing feels like a police procedural for grannies. Over the eight episodes there is one disappearance and three murders. The disappearance is of a young indigenous girl and runs parallel with the entirety of the season, but the other three all take place in the town of Three Pines, an isolated small village somewhere in Canada. Each of the three murders is set up as a two-episode investigation, spanning the last six of eight episodes. It’s all very neat and tidy. Kind of like the show itself.

I’m honestly not sure what the vibe of this thing is supposed to be. At first I thought they might be setting it up as an almost magical realism thing. Or like a Northern Exposure. Or even something akin to Twin Peaks. But that was probably just me projecting the similarish location of the two shows on this one. It turns out this series has none of the humor, quirkiness or even the weirdness of either. Instead, it’s just a straight ahead, slow TV version of Law & Order. But without any of the stakes. In fact, the underlying case of the missing indigenous girl was original to the series from the adapted books to give the things any stakes whatsoever. It is literally the only plot point that adds emotion or intrigue to any part of the show. Otherwise it’s a bunch of goofy Canadians in a very small town who lie about liking each other and someone ends up dead every few weeks. While the least-intimidating cop on Earth shows up with a couple deputies to poke around and eventually fall into a solve.

On top the fact things are not exactly scintillating, the production is not what one would call top-notch. It all feels a little pokey. Like the budget was provided by public funding and not a large corporate entity. As if they looked for ways to cut corners and keep production budgets low. But maybe this is all part of the insular and small feel they were going for. The minimal cast. The isolation. The dearth of locations. And I know this is probably sacrilege, but I just don’t enjoy what they probably feel is the big draw: Alfred Molina. There’s something about his acting style and delivery that I find off-putting. His performance in this isn’t like Doc Ock level annoying, but there’s just something about him that comes across as not natural. As if you can see him reading the script in his brain and not delivering it in the way you’d hoped he would. I understand his character is supposed to be calm and pseudo-French or whatever, but the choice to be just straight-up dull is kind of a weird one. For him. For the show. For us.