“Remember us when they promote you to storm-trooper for this, Peter.”
Nicola (Kat Stewart, Offspring) and Charlie Buchanan (Shaun Micallef, Mad as Hell) run their own crime scene cleanup service, a rarely seen aspect of the crime genre. Mr. & Mrs. Murder focuses on the Buchanans’ knack for solving crimes born out of their unfettered access to crime scenes. Helping Nicola and Charlie navigate the waters are Peter (Jonny Paslovsky, The Moodys) and Jess (Lucy Honigman, Offspring). Peter is the police detective who refers cases to the Buchanans and at the same time harbors a not-so-secret crush on Nicola. Jess is Nicola and Charlie’s niece and she’s often called away from her MBA studies to go undercover.
The best decision made when conceiving of the show was to make it fun, which it certainly is. This could have so easily been a horrific downbeat show with plenty of close up shots of the blood and tissue commonly found at the most gruesome of murder scenes. But while we do have shots of Nicola and Charlie actually doing crime scene clean up, the show’s raison d’etre is the relationship between the Buchanans, how it influences their decisions to attempt to solve the crimes they do, and how they go about it. By making their relationship a strong established one as opposed to catering to the all-too-common “will-they-or-won’t-they?” trope, the show has breathing room that it utilizes wisely by injecting humor. There are small touches sprinkled throughout the show: Nicola’s humming as she hugs people or Charlie’s continual insistence he is nearly a professional within almost every career because of a few semesters spent studying it, for example, which lend credence to the Buchanan relationship and provide moments of levity as well.
Mr. & Mrs. Murder is a smartly written show. The way the show is written you can come in at any point. This is a bit of a double-edged sword as it means viewers are never lost; however, there is also a lack of build up to the show’s mythology, which may hurt the series over the long run. There are no extraneous characters here. Every character has a clear relationship to each other as well as to the show’s overall driving force. The glue holding the show together and the reason the viewer becomes engaged is the harmony between Stewart and Micallef. Their Buchanans burst onto the scene fully formed and realized with a relationship that is entertaining, humorous, and overall quite sweet. The realism Stewart and Micallef are able to bring to the show is based on their history of working together before Mr. & Mrs. Murder and it sells not only the Buchanans’ marriage but the series overall.
And while some may be put off by the lack of romantic tension or of a season-long arc to follow, I find Mr. & Mrs. Murder to be a breath of fresh air in the crime genre. It’s lighthearted in tone, the mysteries aren’t so complicated as to require an insane amount of focus to solve, and the actors all portray complete and well-rounded characters easy to root for. I recommend it.
Mr. & Mrs. Murder: Series 1 contains 13 episodes spread out over four discs, a ratio I’m happy to see as it means no compression artifacting of note on the video transfer.
A high class hotel is the site of the series’ opener and first murder. The victim is a hero to many…but not all.
“A Dog’s Life”
Nicola must confront her “rational fear” of dogs when their victim is mauled to death.
A hotshot designer is killed during his own runway show.
Nicola and Charlie enter the world of professional bodybuilding.
A musical based on the short life of Amy Winehouse faces its own tragedy when the star is killed.
“The Next Best Man”
Personal and professional meet when Nicola and Charlie are called to Peter’s ex-wife’s family home.
“Thoroughly Dead Thoroughbred”
The world of competitive horse breeding proves deadly.
“A Flare for Murder”
After completing a solo trip around the world, a young woman is killed on her boat.
“The Art of Murder”
When a homeless man is murdered inside an art gallery, Nicola and Charlie indulge in their passion for art.
A small cabana is supposed to be the site of a romantic honeymoon but instead becomes a grisly murder scene.
“Keeping Up Appearances”
A young woman suffering from body dysmorphia is found dead outside her plastic surgeon’s office building.
Charlie gets nostalgic for his childhood when the couple is sent to the zoo to clean up a murder.
“The Course Whisperer”
A top chef is murdered and suspicion abounds among his kitchen crew.
The video transfer is well-timed in order to showcase the beauty of the Australian landscape featured within in its best light (and dark and in-between). The 1.78:1 aspect ratio is a current favorite among present-day television shows and provides a nice quasi-panoramic view of the countryside. Nothing special in terms of the audio track, a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 is utilized however care was taken to ensure uniformity across the layers. Regardless of whether the scene is indoors or outdoors it’s well-balanced and though it won’t blow your speakers out you won’t find yourself turning up the volume either to compensate for any softness.
As far as special features go, I’m afraid there is a bit of a disappointment. Half of the special features, specifically the extended scenes and the behind-the-scenes featurette, are missing. The only ones included are a set of brief interviews as well as a photo gallery.
I really enjoy Mr. & Mrs. Murder and hope to see it renewed. The chemistry between Stewart and Micallef comes through with ease and their characters’ obvious love for one another is charming. The lighthearted approach works well and lifts the show from what could have been a very depressing undertaking into a sweet offering which is highly entertaining.