To make a good mystery series it’s important to stick to a tried-and-true formula: a murder to kick off an episode, hints, red herrings, multiple suspects, dead-ends and a last-minute revelation by the hero.
As actor Bernard Curry (Wentworth) explains, the audience will even put credulity to one aside, in exchange for a darn good plot ride.
“Nobody would ever hang out with Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote. Wherever she goes a murder happens!
“But the audience suspends their disbelief and goes along for the ride,” he suggests.
“A big part of these shows is the clever set-up in how murders take place and then the methods Alexa uses to get to the bottom of them. The clues are dropped along the way, so you have to try and solve the murder before she does.”
Alexa is the lead character played by Lucy Lawless in 10’s upcoming drama My Life is Murder.
The drama, written by Claire Tonkin, Matt Ford, & Peter Gawler, sees Lawless as a former detective summoned by Detective Inspector Kieran Knight (Curry) to assist with unsolved homicides.
“We were partners, and her husband Gary also worked in the force but was killed in the line of duty. He was a friend of Kieran’s and it was a bit too much for Alexa to deal with so she decided to leave the force. About 18 months later Kieran gets in touch and says ‘I’ve got a case for you. You’re still the best investigator I know,'” he says.
“He sees in her a unique way of looking at cases.”
But Curry admits while his character may be crossing a line in commandeering her assistance, the pay-off is in the chemistry and her approach to crime-busting.
“Kieran has to do things by the book, otherwise he could jeopardise a case, but she has the capacity to blur the lines. She has a freedom to sometimes cross the line about what’s legal to be able to find the answers to crack the cases,” he continues.
“But there’s also danger. He’s giving classified cases to a civilian. If it’s not against the law it’s certainly unorthodox.
“She’s associating with people who are potential murderers, so if something were to happen to her it would be nobody’s fault except Kieran’s.
“There is a foundation of believability, because she used to be a detective working with Kieran, so they have a certain shorthand between each other. They get each other.
“So for him to bring her cases is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Hopefully people go with that.”
The 10 part CJZ series is filmed in Melbourne, with Leah Purcell as set-up director. Actress Ebony Vagulins (Doctor Doctor, The Letdown) is the third key principal as data analyst Madison Feliciano. Guest cast include big names such as Don Hany, Magda Szubanski,, Ryan Corr, Danielle Cormack, Jane Harber & Lisa Hensley.
Despite the dark subject, Curry says the series adopts a playful tone to its ‘murder of the week.’
“It’s such a departure from other procedurals like Criminal Minds or NCIS. There’s a real sense of fun and warmth to it. It’s not so much about the cop procedural but the characters and their relationships.
“Keiran is going through a separation with his wife, but Alexa is single from being widowed. There’s an attraction element between the two we’re exploring a little bit.
“It’s implicit. It’s not full sexual attraction but there is that kind of Mulder-Scully sense of two people in each other’s sphere a lot.
“There’s great banter between them, and even though we are dealing with murder which is obviously a serious topic, there’s a real sense of fun with the Alexa character.”
My Life is Murder premieres 8:40pm Wednesday on 10 (preview episode available at 10 Play for 24 hours).