What do a naked body, a giant seal, Princess Mary and “I Touch Myself” have in common?
The answer is Deadloch a wacky new mystery drama — or is that mystery comedy — screening on Prime Video.
The 8-part series is the work of the two talented “Kates”, Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney (Take Krack!n, The Katering Show, Bleak), now making a leap into premium drama.
Set in the fictional city of Deadloch, Tasmania, this mystery is revealed when three teenagers discover the naked body of a man washed up on the beach. It becomes the job of local Sergeant Major Dulcie Collins (Kate Box) to protect the crime scene from curious and mischievous locals in a town where everyone knows each other. But maintaining order until the detectives arrive isn’t easy, especially when the force includes overeager young agent Abby (Nina Oyama) and hapless and very relaxed agent Sven (Tom Ballard).
There is a motley cast of locals: Mayor Aleyna (Susie Youssef), Dulcie’s girlfriend Cath (Alicia Gardiner), newly widowed mom Vanessa (Katie Robinson), the victim’s brother Gavin (Jackson Tozer), a forensic pathologist James (Nick Simpson-Deeks)—but these only scratch the surface of the massive cast. You can expect to see Pamela Rabe, Kris McQuade, Duncan Fellows and more.
As our heroine Dulcie begins to piece together evidence, her life is turned upside down by the arrival of a loud and foul-mouthed detective sent by Darwin to oversee the case. Dressed in a tropical shirt, Sgt. Eddie Redcliffe (Madeleine Sami) rushes like a bull into a fucking china shop, discarding all of Dulcie’s good work, in hopes of coming to a quick conclusion to call it quits. In the town of Dulcie, she is both ignorant and unwelcome.
Deadloch it is also hosting a Food and Wine Festival amid local scandal, adding to the backdrop of the very believable village created by director Ben Chessell. You really get the sense that this city has many strands, each of which helps create a lot of red herrings and murder suspects.
The Kates also spice up their mystery with some trademark banter, with a great ear for the Aussie idiom and laconic social observation…. even having the temerity to have a First Nations character provide a cynical acknowledgment of the country. I love it.
But the thick storyline creeps in as the body count begins to climb…as the writers chart a denser series arc.
Kate Box is formidable as a voice of reason in this rickety coastal city, navigating the truth while being tested by a brash outsider and a clingy girlfriend, the latter gleefully played by Alicia Gardiner.
In the midst of all this rich nuance, why the decision to let Madeleine Sami ostensibly channel another genre for the irritating Eddie Redcliffe? It’s a cartoonish, unconvincing performance, and if it’s meant to be a “funny man” to Box’s “straight man,” it’s a failure for me. It was a disappointing twist on what was otherwise made to be a bizarre and satisfying world…. equal to an uneven viewing experience.
It’s hard to enjoy the riches of Deadloch‘s fertile community, when a puzzling character bursts onto the screen.
But then the Kates are known for being risk-takers, defying tradition, as they have done so bravely Take Krack!n‘s episode with indigenous guest hosts.
I guess on this occasion there are three Kates -McLennan, McCartney and Box- to thank for gems in a town where nearly everyone is a friendly face and a suspicious whodunnit.
Deadloch airs Friday, June 2 on Prime Video.