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Darby & Joan

Bryan Brown & Greta Scacchi star as two grey nomads searching for answers on the road up north, but may find themselves first.

Just a couple of grey nomads on the road, solving mysteries…. meet Darby, a retired police detective played by Bryan Brown and Joan, a British nurse played by Greta Scacchi.

Together they are Darby & Joan in Acorn TV’s lilting new drama series shot magnetically along the Queensland coastline. Two fine actors in a seductive setting -what more could you want?

It’s a car accident on an isolated road that throws two opposites together. Joan is driving a campervan through Queensland when a reckless jeep driven by Darby (accompanied by trusty dog Diesel) swerves and rolls, forcing her to transport him to nearby help.

Joan is already on her own mission, to find out what happened to her late husband Ian (John Waters), whose final days down under are a bit of a mystery.

When the pair stumble upon an ageing hippy outpost -populated by more fine actors Kerry Armstrong, Peter O’Brien, Robert Coleby, Kaarin Fairfax- Joan searches for answers, a little plonk and a puff of the good stuff. Darby, being more conservative, is less enthused but forced to entertain the ideas of his new-found friend.

But pleasantries will turn to suspicions when one of the crew is found dead on the beach -suddenly the series shifts to Agatha Christie terrain (it is Acorn TV after all). Perhaps a better parallel is Death in Paradise, after all the rolling waves and lush waterfalls are captivating, especially in the rich colours captured by cinematographer John Stokes.

Without giving too much away, the crime of episode one will be succinctly resolved by episode’s end, leaving episode two to introduce further guests and a new encounter.

Guest stars to feature across the series include Steve Bisley, Caroline Gillmer, Anna McGahan, Sophie Cox, Rarriwuy Hick, Caroline O’Connor and Charlie Clausen. Special mention to “Sat Nav” voices Casey Donovan and Rachel Ward.

But it’s really our two veteran leads we are here to see, both of whom appeared not too long ago in Palm Beach. The chemistry is evident from their first car crash, and sparkles throughout. Brown’s trademark under-playing knack is welcome here whilst Scacchi cuts his character no slack.

Writers Phillip Gwynne and Glenys Rowe know their audience well: those seeking drama that is light, smart, escapist and embracing all its wrinkles. The mystery of Ian’s final days serves neatly as a through-line arc amid foreground action, but I suspect our heroes may find one another before the answers they seek.

Director David Caesar puts the viewer into a back seat of this quirky road trip, which sings thanks to the talents of Brown & Scacchi.

Darby & Joan double episodes Mondays on Acorn TV from August 8.

5 Responses

  1. Thanks to your review I watched it and enjoyed it immensely. Thanks David as the title did not really strike a cord with me but great show.
    Acorn seem to have a few Australian shows with The Circuit and Crownies, and Under The Vines with Rebecca Gibney, plus the very addictive UK shows “In The Line of Duty” and “London Kills”
    Thanks again for your reviews they alert me to some brilliant TV!.

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