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, six seasons have been broadcast between 2013 and 2018.

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 was one of the top-rated dramas in Australia, but was cancelled in 2018. McLachlan did not appear in the last episode, as he was facing sexual harassment allegations at the time. It featured other cast members and was titled The Blake Mysteries: Ghost Stories.

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.

1 comment:

  1. A fair review. Budgets probably limit the 'paucity of suspects' (small casts). As to plots .... first class scriptwriters are a rarity ... even in ENGLISH dramas, dare I say. It is popular in Australia mainly with we old codgers, because of its appeal to nostalgia. It harks back to a less complicated era, becore the job losses from globalisation, worries about international terrorism, and the cosiness of having won WW2 and repelled the invasion from the north .... whereas that phobia has recently been revived, due to the threat of a rising and beligerent China, which is rapidly buying up the country's land, industry and infrastructure and allegedly bribing our politicians and academic institutions via 'donations'.