When ABC responded to questions about concluding The Doctor Blake Mysteries, its response in part was a desire to produce new work.
Whilst Harrow had already been commissioned prior to news going public about Blake, it’s fair to say we are now seeing the pay-off.
Harrow is, in many ways, Blake for a modern audience. It’s a whodunnit with a dashing coroner solving mysteries on a Friday night.
Slipping into the heroic role with ease is Ioan Gruffudd (Liar, Forever, UnREAL, The Fantastic Four). As cool Brissy coroner Daniel Harrow, he is the best in the biz, with the time to watch an old black & white High Noon flick instead of slicing open a dead clown, because he already knows the cause of death.
That only serves to irritate the very direct Maxine (Robyn Malcolm) Director of the Queensland Institute of Forensic Medicine, who has bodies coming in and cases to be classified. If only Harrow wasn’t so damned right all the time.
In contrast, Harrow‘s workplace nemesis, pathologist Lyle Fairley (Darren Gilshenan), has designs on his office and usurping his protege Simon (Remy Hii) from under his nose.
Meanwhile Harrow‘s rowdy day is about to get a lot worse when his teenage daughter Fern (Ella Newton) discharges herself from hospital emergency after a drug collapse, but turns her back on her estranged father and flees. Has Harrow learned parenting from the School of Hard Rake?
Like many TV heroes, he is gifted at work but his personal life is in disarray.
But it wouldn’t be a whodunnit without a case of the week, courtesy of a father (Gary Sweet) insisting his daughter was murdered and not killed by overdose.
“I can’t change the system,” Harrow tells him.
But fearing he will lose his own daughter imminently, he decides to quit his job and take her sailing to Bora Bora.
Suddenly finding himself ‘outside’ the system he has just 3 days to solve the cold case before setting sail. I have a funny feeling he is going to be overstepping the job description with regularity…
Added into the mix are a cocky detective (Damien Garvey) and a fetching Seargant (Mirrah Foulkes) who manages to flirt with our hero in between addressing crimes. Pencil this in as the show’s own URST (Unresolved Sexual Tension).
The tone of the first episode by creator Stephen M. Irwin and director Kate Dennis is largely light in the workplace (dead bodies / light tone) but more serious amongst Harrow‘s personal life and crime-busting. It may take a few episodes to work out which is the better fit.
Despite being yet another handsome, straight, white, male lead, Gruffudd handles the light and shade well. Appearing in just about every scene, it’s fortunate he has broad shoulders. The emotional scenes are where he works best in this largely-procedural piece.
That said, while the opening chapter chugs along without demanding much from its audience, the final act reveals a trump card which could well give the series it’s point of difference -but to reveal more would be a spoiler.
Harrow also makes much of its Brisbane backdrop, literally glittering in the distance behind his riverboat home, Bettie. Told you he was cool.
If this can make more use of its fine supporting cast then Harrow might just convince a sceptical audience there is more than one doctor to skin Friday night whodunnits.
Harrow airs 8:30pm Fridays on ABC.