Murder and mayhem in a small country community is just that much more appealing than when it takes place in the big city. At least that’s the case on some TV shows. In particular the latest instalment of the New Zealand police show The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 5. Now available on Blu-ray and DVD two disc sets from Acorn Media the show is an intriguing mix of mystery, small town life and idiosyncratic characters.
Leading the pack of interesting characters is Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neil Rae). Not only does he drive a vintage car – which to his junior officer’s astonishment still has a cassette player – he’s an avid country music fan and tends to have chats with the corpses whose murders he’s trying to solve.
His subordinates, Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) and Detective Constable (DC) Breen (Nic Sampson) might still enjoy teasing their boss about his odd habits, but they also respect his abilities as a detective. Part of the pleasure of the show is watching the three detectives interact over the course of an investigation.
The town of Brokenwood is a character itself in the series. From the picturesque New Zealand settings used as its locations to its inhabitants – they all combine to make a rich tapestry against which murder stands out vividly. Especially if you’ve been watching the series for a while and have become familiar with Brokenwood’s inhabitants.
In this case familiarity does not breed contempt. In fact part of the pleasure of watching the show is seeing familiar faces and watching the interactions between the various people who live in the town and the detectives.
Speaking of familiar faces, anyone who has watched any of the other TV shows (or films) from New Zealand that have made their way over to North America will spot some throughout the four episodes of ‘Series 5’. You might not recognize their names but Olivia Tennet, Shane Cortese and Dean O’Gorman who make guest appearances in Brokenwood this time round have will be recognizable to fans of 800 Words and The Almighty Johnsons.
The scripts and stories in The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 5 are of the high quality we’ve come to expect from the show. Well mainly lighthearted in approach, the show’s writers are equally capable of handling sensitive issues with the finesse and delicacy they deserve.
Even better is the manner in which they’re able to work things like sexual harassment, bullying and even mental health issues, into the plots without taking away from the story or being obvious about their intent. It’s all part of what makes this show a joy to watch.
The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 5 is a wonderful mix of character, location and stories that is sure to delight both seasoned fans of the show and newcomers alike. So, next time you’re in the mood for a little murder take a trip to scenic New Zealand and meet the quirky inhabitants of the town of Brokenwood. You won’t regret it.
(Article originally posted at Blogcritics.org as Blu-ray Review: The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 5)
Richard Marcus is the author of two commissioned works published by Ulysses Press, editor in the books section of Blogcritics.org and contributor at Qantara.de. He has been writing since 2005 and his work has appeared in publications all over the world including the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine.