The Brokenwood Mysteries TV series from New Zealand, available on AcornTV, is comfort food for mystery lovers. You know what you’re going to get. It’s satisfying and enjoyable without pushing boundaries or buttons, but without playing down to the viewers – at least not much. Brokenwood is good for a change of pace after a particularly intense or graphic TV series, or to fill in the gap while waiting for the next big foreign TV series to arrive.
Brokenwood, New Zealand, is a scenic small town, as well as a dangerous place to live. It has a high incidence of murders. (This is similar to the situation in the county of Midsomer, England.) Fortunately, Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea), recently arrived in town, is an adept crime solver. Helping him out are Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) and still-wet-behind-the-ears DC Sam Breen. They’re an affable lot, prone to banter and running jokes, mostly about Shepherd’s ancient auto and love of country music and Sims’ inability to make good coffee.
The stories are standard mystery fare. Episodes open with a death or the discovery a body. We soon meet a handful of suspects; the killer’s identity is not revealed at the outset. As Shepherd and company set about to solve the case, they deal with an array of interesting characters, some regulars, some specific to the episode. There is likely to be some light humor and mild violence along the way.
We may be underselling The Brokenwood Mysteries. It’s really one of the better series of this type, suitable for network television, interesting and entertaining without insulting the viewer’s intelligence. Much of the appeal is in the interaction between Shepherd and Sims.
At the same time, this series is not intense, dark, or gritty. There is not a lot of complexity and it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre. For some viewers, it will be too tame. The show is basically good, clean fun.
It’s worth noting that the music featured in Brokenwood – though we only get short excerpts – is good stuff. It’s got a country, Americana vibe for the most part and, of course, has resulted in some soundtrack releases.
The Brokenwood Mysteries has three seasons (series) available on AcornTV, each with four 90-minute episodes. The series was created by Tim Balme, and first aired on Prime TV in New Zealand in 2014. A fourth season has been announced for late 2017.
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