It doesn't bother me that none of the actors are familiar names or faces. Or that the series is set in the late 1950's. I love that it's a "period" piece, set in a time long before personal computers, cell phones, and blockbuster anything. These mysteries pit a doctor, a "police surgeon," against the murderer and his or her methods, flaws, mistakes, and pain. The police help or hinder depending on who's in charge -- there's been one Chief Superintendent whose handsomeness hid a black heart -- and always provide the authority Dr. Lucien Blake requires to catch the villain. These mysteries proceed quietly, slowly, penetrating the social strata of Ballarat and the surrounding area with some of the most haunting music you will hear on television.
Dr. Blake, the son of a beloved doctor in Ballarat, returns after years spent abroad. His background story seeps through each mystery episode, revealing his flaws and his pain, as well as his character as a person. He takes up residence in his father's house and office, and asks his father's housekeeper, Mrs. Jean Beazley, to stay and work for him. He takes in a district nurse as well as a young police constable or two as boarders. His medical practice would be that of a general practitioner at the time, supplemented by his work with the police. The nature of the show, of course, means that it actually seems like his police work is his major practice.
The second subplot involves Blake and his housekeeper, Jean Beazley. Over time, the two actors do a masterful job of showing the gradual romantic attraction growing between these two characters. It has been fascinating to watch their reservation, their restraint, the way the social norms of the time govern their behavior, and so on. They are both middle-aged with grown children, and this is especially refreshing to see. They have problems, pain in their pasts, and have each lost a spouse in war. Will they get together?
|Jean and Lucien (Not what it looks like)|
What's been especially fascinating to me has been seeing Australian culture and a moment in Australian history after World War Two. They were an ally of the Americans in the Pacific Theater and have their own war stories to tell. I grew up hearing mostly about the European Theater of that war despite my father's service in New Guinea which he rarely talked about and then not in detail. Australia had its own struggle with Communism and prejudices, corruption and vice. I feel like with each episode I'm experiencing this time in Australia through these characters and their stories.
I'm almost finished with the fourth season and have been excited to learn that there will be a fifth. If you're looking for something different and you love mysteries, request (demand) your local PBS station to air it (if they aren't already)!