The Inbestigators

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock has competition.

Competition in the form of pint-sized school girl Maudie (Anna Cooke) whose observational skills means she can read a person based purely by the stains on their clothes or their rolled up pants.

10 year old Maudie is also the new kid in Grade Five in ABC ME’s new locally-produced series The Inbestigators and Ezra (Aston Droomer) has been assigned the responsibility of helping her to settle in.

But the first day doesn’t go without a hitch when Ava’s (Abby Bergman) cupcake stall profits go missing. Is there a thief in their midst? Together with the exuberant Kyle (Jamil Smyth-Secka) the four are determined to get to the bottom of a kingsize mystery, piecing together the clues and red herrings that sometimes evaded this grown-up reviewer.

Combining their skills in intellect, tech savvy, people skills and unbridled enthusiasm they join forces to create 40 years of experience (do the maths) and open up a detective agency in the granny flat behind Ezra’s house. No case is too big nor too small, whether finding missing deliveries, recovering stolen assignments, and working out why all the neighbourhood car alarms have stopped working -all retold with the storytelling device of an online vlog and a perky cast.

Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope, whose Gristmill Productions has a history of kids (Little Lunch) and comedy (Upper Middle Bogan, Very Small Business, The Librarians) again demonstrate a knack for engaging, original ideas with a clear handle on their audience. Underneath the whodunnit plots you’ll find the ‘crimes’ are always explained through a need to belong or avoid loneliness -rather than those nasty adult vices like greed and spite- and the cast is consciously diverse.

The kiddie cast are bright, amusing and plucky, if sometimes a little too-pronounced, with Abby Bergman and Aston Droomer -seriously, a showbiz name- as early stand-outs. Hapless adults in need of a little detectiv-ating (ok, I made that up) include Maria Angelico, Heidi Arena, Clarke Richards, Madeleine Jevic.

At just 15 minutes per episode The Inbestigators is fresh fun and very nearly the next best thing since Essie Davis gave up on Miss Fisher.

5pm daily from Friday June 21 on ABC ME.

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