TV Review: Mr & Mrs Murder

New Australian comedy-drama Mr & Mrs Murder premiered Wednesday on Channel Ten, and judging by its social media response it’s already gained some instant fans—the hashtag ‘mrandmrsmurder’ trended in Melbourne at the time the show aired, while ‘micallef’ later trended throughout Australia. Immediately attention-grabbing was the show’s opening titles, with its colourful and interactive-comic-book style, similar to that of Desperate Housewives, and accompanying Catch Me If You Can-esque music that also played through the whole episode.Australians welcomed Shaun Micallef (former Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation host) back to the small screen — or if we’re being realistic, our massive, thin and often wall-mounted visual entertainment units — and rejoiced at his partnership with Offspring’s Kat Stewart… well, I did anyway. The two play Charlie and Nicola Buchanan, commercial cleaners of crime scenes and pseudo-detectives. The back-story is a tad unbelievable given crime scene cleaners, apart from perhaps collecting evidence, which would then suggest inept forensic teams, are hardly qualified to solve murders in their entirety. However, the pair is quickly forgiven. They offer comic gold with their quick-witted remarks — “Are those your reading cucumbers?” says Charlie before unveiling a clue — and stumbling nature when it comes to edgier sleuth-like scenes.The husband and wife duo are oddly upbeat about more-or-less gruesome situations, but still come across charming. This is possibly Micallef’s most serious acting role to date, and he plays it well. Of course, he displays some of his original Full Frontal humour, but that only makes his character even more loveable. Stewart is once again the quirky sidekick, akin to her character Billie in Offspring, with her experience as an actress being the necessary glue that holds the cast together. Nicola is slightly less aggressive and more motherly than most roles Stewart portrays, which is demonstrated in her treatment of niece Jess (Lucy Honigman), who looks to be a recurring character and is the show’s attempt at tapping into Gen-Y.The pilot episode begins with a typical murder scene—a hotel worker is caught, bloodied knife in hand, standing by a dead body. The next scene sees Charlie and Nicola emerge from their van in true superhero fashion, slow motion and with Nicola’s hair blowing in the wind. The revelation of their blue body suits, hygiene masks and red goggles sets the agenda as their dramatic entrance is halted by the hotel manager who ushers them through the back. They get to work cleaning the bloody mess and sure enough begin questioning the unsolved crime. The storyline is well thought out and cluey, adopting a Holmes and Watson quality. However, some improvement can be made in terms of guest actors. Those involved in this week’s plot were not necessarily as believable as their veteran counterparts. Still, the story was conveyed clearly and was satisfyingly entertaining.Unfortunately, the show was beaten in its timeslot by axed American drama Last Resort on Seven, and peaked at an audience of only 936,000. In hindsight that’s not too bad, given Ten’s dismal last quarter, but here’s hoping ratings will pick up because Mr & Mrs Murder is actually a decent show.Mr & Mrs Murder airs 8.30pm Wednesdays on Channel Tenby Jessica Buccolieri

February 22nd 2013
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