Starring: Barbara Flynn, Catherine Russell, Peter Capaldi
Girl power is very much the watchword in this enjoyable detective show, created by Paul Milne, which ran for two seasons in the mid-’90s. Two women decide to set up a private eye agency, each for her own reasons – the younger, Elly (Catherine Russell), is smarting from a recent divorce and wants some payback on the male gender, while the other, Dee, is seeking an escape from the toils of family life. With cynical ex-PI Larry (Peter Capaldi) showing them the ropes and renting them high-end tech, they’re soon tailing marks and planting bugs like old pros.
Although a few of their clients are male, most of their cases involve getting the goods on erring husbands, leaving them plenty of time for their own personal issues, which are substantial. Dee is battling hard to convert her own, old fashioned stick in the mud of a hubby into a new man, while Larry has feelings for Elly but finds himself stuck in the friendship zone because she’s unable to get over her slimy, two-timing ex.
It’s this awareness of the messiness of human emotions which is the show’s saving grace, stopping it from becoming too soft-centred and lightweight. That, and some witty, sharply observant scripts, plus good efforts from all the leads. Cast against type in the maternal role (she usually played strutting, man-eating types up till that point), Barbara Flynn pairs up well with the fresh-faced Russell, while Capaldi has fun acting seedy and embittered.
Chandler & Co returned for a second season, but the series was beset was personnel changes. With Larry having apparently buggered off to Bogota and Dee presumably back to being a housewife, Susan Fleetwood steps in as a scatty single mum who becomes first Elly’s client, then her partner. This new line-up resulted in some entertaining episodes, without quite recapturing the brio of Season 1. 7/10