Starring: Shaun Micallef, Kat Stewart
Until Mr & Mrs Murder, probably the best known forensic clean-up team to hit the screen was the one in the extremely ikky German indie movie Nekromantik. Here, though, in this kooky Australian comedy detective series, it seems like quite a nice, wholesome pastime. Nicola (Kat Stewart) and Charlie (Shaun Micallef) are a husband and wife team who go about in blue boiler suits and white boots, clutching yellow bags of infectious waste, mopping up after various grisly murders. But they don’t stop at scrubbing out blood stains and running their trusty bacterial deodorizer. They also (coming to the aid of a slightly slow-witted detective who would be lost without them) set about working out whodunnit. Well, everyone needs a hobby.
The crimes and backdrops tend to be colourfully quirky – a fashion designer killed on the catwalk, a bodybuilder baked to death on a sunbed, the leading lady crushed to death in a cursed Amy Winehouse musical – but on the whole the tone is dry and low key in a hip, sophisticated way, with the focus firmly on the constant stream of small talk and chitchat between Nicola and Charlie. He’s laid back, urbane and a fount of useless knowledge, she’s impulsive, intuitive and has the embarrassing habit of hugging suspects and witnesses. Together, they make for a charmingly dorky couple, and they keep their investigations in the family by roping in their long-suffering niece Jess (Lucy Honigman) as assistant, sometime undercover agent and guinea pig. Although they argue that their sleuthing is an extension of their day job, another way of restoring order to chaos, it’s obvious that it’s more about husband and wife bonding and the thrill of the chase, and the fact that this could and probably should seem creepy but doesn’t only adds to the appeal.
The two leads both give cleverly wry performances which nail the mild-mannered, sweeter than sweet but slightly offbeat nature of their characters to a tee, and there’s not a bad episode, with clues and quips coming thick and fast. Arguably the show could have done with slightly more variety of tempo – as in one standout story set in a zoo which combines humour with a darker, more gory edge – but fans of cosy crime mysteries are sure to love it and who knows, it might even start a craze for blue boiler suits. 8/10
7-mins of featurettes with contributions from the cast, about the origins of the show (star and co-creator Shaun Micallef namechecks Columbo as an influence) and the various backdrops, with some behind the scenes stuff about the creation of the songs for the musical which appears in one episode. ~ Complete versions of the aforementioned musical numbers, which are quite fun and nice to have. 5/10