In Deadloch, an Australian series on Prime, a resident of a small town washes up on the beach, forcing a measured local cop to work with a crass, dismissive out-of-town detective to solve the case. Deadloch is a small town on the island of Tasmania off the coast of Australia that used to be a fishing backwater, but has been “overrun by lesbians”, according to the disgruntled local men. When football coach Trent Latham is found dead and naked on the beach just days before the annual Winter “Feastival”, the town is thrown into disarray. Local Police Senior Sergeant Dulcie Collins (Kate Box) is put in charge until Detective Eddie Redcliffe (Madeline Sami) can get there from the north. The clash-of-personalities trope is well worn in crime drama, but what makes this show unique is that the both leads are women, one of whom has an extreme potty-mouth. The style of the show is novel as well. Although it is a satire of both small-town life and wokeism, the crime is deadly serious. So, it’s not a spoof. But to enjoy it, you have to like absurd humor (think: person accidentally throwing a lit cigarette on a dead body) as well as creatively filthy insults (which I do).
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Trent’s body is followed by others, all of whom have had their tongues cut out. Although Eddie wants to focus on the obvious local troublemakers as suspects, Dulcie digs a little deeper, finding that there have been other tongue-less bodies found within the last 5 years, but the damage was attributed to a hostile local seal, Kevin. Because nothing serious ever happens in the town, there is no detective on the force, so details like the fact that seals don’t eat human flesh were overlooked before Dulcie and her veterinarian wife arrived the year before. The murder plot is pretty thin, with one red herring after another, but it’s not cozy. Deadloch has the look and feel of a Nordic noir.
Dulcie and Eddie
Dulcie used to be a detective in Sydney, but something happened and now she and her wife Cath (Alicia Gardiner) are starting over in tiny Deadloch. Dulcie takes her downgraded job as a police sergeant very seriously, and seems content until the murder happens. Then the detective in her emerges, much to Cath’s chagrin. Suddenly Dulcie wants to shed the silliness of Cath’s rules like, “When we have conflict, we have to kiss for 6 seconds.” Meanwhile, Eddie is a wreck of a human. She arrives underdressed for the weather, dismissing Dulcie and her theories, and running roughshod over the local townspeople. I find her biting insults funny, but sometimes the writers go too far, not because she is a woman saying outrageous things, but because it’s not humorous. Eventually you know Dulcie and Eddie will come together to solve the case, but not for the first 4 episodes.
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Our Take on Deadloch
Like all small-town shows, Deadloch features eccentric local characters, the difference being that here they are over the top, like the mayor who swims up to, thus contaminating, the crime scene. I feel the need to address the elephant in the room. Many viewers HATED the character of Eddie, and accused Madeline Sami of overacting and the writers of being unfunny. While I agree that sometimes the writing goes too far, and the show dwells on her bad habits for too many episodes, ultimately I liked her, and found myself laughing out loud several times. Deadloch would have been served by getting to the point where Dulcie and Eddie cooperate sooner. If you are a Portlandia fan, you’ll appreciate the skewering satire of ultra-liberals, such as the “endurance art” experiences at the Feastival. There is something about the show that reminds me of Absolutely Fabulous, with Dulcie being the Saffy character, and Eddie being the, well, Eddy character. If those shows, plus brooding, sometimes gory Nordic noirs are in your wheelhouse, then you will like Deadloch. If not, I say don’t bother.
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