Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Murder on the Home Front: It Beats Being a Land Girl
good is a bomb shelter if nobody feels safe in them? It is 1940 and the Blitz
is in full swing, but crime still continues on and below London’s darkened
streets. With most able-bodied men in military service, a squirrelly pathologist
finally has an opportunity to apply modern scientific methods in Murder on the Home Front (promo here), a one-off (so
far) that premieres this Sunday as part of the current season of PBS’s Masterpiece.
Lefebure became a popular British writer in multiple genres, who found early
source material as a clerical assistant in the London pathologist’s office. She
will be known as Molly Cooper in Home
Front, which adapts her memoir, or at least the first big composite case
she works with Dr. Lennox Collins, an academic crime fighter in the tradition
of Wire in the Blood’s Dr. Tony Hill.
is no shortage of deaths in London, but the recent rash of murdered women
cannot be blamed on the Germans. The cops have a particularly convenient fall
guy: a social outcast of German descent. However, Collins identifies several
more likely suspects, but the powers that be might have reasons for protecting
them. The hidebound chief pathologist is also not so keen on Collins’ new
fangled methods, but Cooper might be able to win over the working class coppers
to his rigorous style of investigation.
high up in the PBS hierarchy must have a personal interest in the early history
of forensic criminology, considering Home
Front comes on the heels of Poisoner’s Handbook and How Sherlock Saved the World. It duly features a fair amount of CSI business, but there are also
the requisite flirtations between Cooper and Collins.
Home Front is currently a one-shot,
it looks an awful lot like a backdoor pilot for a regular series. The basic concept
is sturdy enough and Tamzin Merchant (previously seen in Masterpiece’s Edwin Drood) brings some engaging Jessica
Chastain-ish screen presence as Cooper. However, prospective follow-ups will
have to refrain from falling back on the old Germans-bombed-the-crime-scene and
the-suspect-fled-into-the-bomb-shelter plot devices. Patrick Kennedy should
also step-up his game a little, either taking Collins in a twitchier Robson
Green direction or a crank up the geeky charm.
The various cops will also need a bit more personality, but Richard
Bremmer adds a touch of class as Charlie Maxton, the rumpled morgue attendant with
a big heart.
As Brit crime dramas go, Home Front has respectable looking period trappings and fairly
solid procedural mechanics. It suggests decent series potential, but it is not
yet near the level of a top shelf historical mystery like Endeavour. Recommended for Anglophiles and CSI junkies, Murder on the Home Front airs on most
PBS outlets this Sunday night (2/16), following Downton.
Labels: PBS, Tamzin Merchant