Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Doctor Blake Mysteries

Craig McLachlan as Dr. Blake
Premise:  Set in the 1950s, this Australian series focuses on Lucien Blake, a middle-aged physician who has returned to his hometown of Ballarat to take over his deceased father's medical practice. The senior Blake was also the local police surgeon and Lucien inherits those duties as well. Blake's innate curiosity and propensity to mentally recreate crimes makes him a valuable--if sometimes unwanted--ally to Chief Superintendent Matthew Lawson. Of course, Lawson is one of Blake's few friends given that Lucien can sometimes be self-righteous, indignant, and prone to drinking too much. Other characters include: Blake's live-in housekeeper Jean, who may harbor romantic feelings for Lucien; her nephew Charlie, a young police officer; and nurse Mattie O'Brien. Blake is haunted by his past, especially the fate of his wife and daughter who went missing in Singapore during World War II.

Running Time: 60 minutes.

Status:  To date, four seasons have been broadcast between 2013 and 2016. The first two seasons are available on DVD in the U.S.

Production Notes:  Star Craig McLachlan was nominated for a Logie Award for three consecutive years, 2014 - 2016. The Logie is the Australian version of an Emmy Award (you can read more about it at the official Logie Awards web site.) The Doctor Blake Mysteries is one of the top-rated dramas in Australia and has been renewed for a fifth season.

Our Review:  Predictable mysteries are the only thing keeping The Doctor Blake Mysteries from ranking with the genre's finest dramas. There are a couple of strong episodes during the first season: "Hearts and Flowers" (which takes place during a flower festival...reminding us of Midsomer Murders) and "Bedlam" (which takes place in a mental institution). However, most episodes feature weakly-plotted mysteries with an obvious killer and a paucity of viable suspects. Craig McLachlan makes a convincing lead and he receives strong support from the rest of the cast. The time period and the location set it apart from contemporary detective series--especially for American audiences who watch little Aussie television.

Grade: B.

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