DAVID BIANCULLI

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On Sundance Now: 'The Murders'
February 4, 2021  | By David Hinckley
 


Kate Jameson is that rarest of all TV cops. She comes to the job with no baggage.

So, The Murders, a Canadian detective drama that becomes available Thursday on Sundance Now, could be a throwback to the olden days when police weren't tormented souls.

Kate (Jessica Lucas, top), the focal character, seems to be someone who just wants to be a good cop.

Her father was a homicide detective, and that's all she ever wanted to be. Now she is, having risen through the ranks at a speed fast enough to make some of her fellow detectives a little suspicious and maybe a little jealous.

Still, if Detective Nolan Wells (Dylan Bruce) feels that way, it's his problem. She'll just prove to him she can do the job.

It all sounds pretty straighforward until partway through the first episode when Jessica gets ambushed by the butterfly effect.

She becomes the target of a small, silly initiation ritual perpetrated by her partner, Detective Mike Huntley (Lochlyn Munro). Unfortunately, it triggers a series of small missteps with serious consequences, and before Kate has finished her first case, she has acquired not just a little baggage but a whole set of luggage.

That resets the backdrop for The Murders, whose eight episodes fall into a familiar cop-show pattern: a procedural wherein a murder will be solved every week, against the backdrop of a specter that weighs on Kate throughout.

She also learns some other things, like about her father, that she probably should know but doesn't really want to know.

So The Murders becomes complicated on its psychological level while it remains less complicated on the crime level.

Bad people commit terrible crimes and, for a few minutes, seem to get away with them. But Kate and her partner, with luck and skill and some help from other members of the homicide squad, almost always stop them.

That doesn't always help Kate in her personal relationships, though, and her professional associations also keep having rocky passages.

The Murders breaks little new ground on the procedural side. It does offer characters who are complex and flawed enough that we're interested in seeing how they develop.

It's also a sign of the times that The Murders plays almost like a miniseries instead of a procedural that could presumably continue indefinitely. Welcome to the new TV world.

And speaking of the new TV world, the COVID-induced production shutdown keeps sending services like Sundance Now out of the country to find fresh material for U.S. viewers.

At a time when we viewers are also shut down, these shows often feel like comfort food. Not a gourmet meal, but a satisfying way to pass another evening at home.

 
 
 
 
 
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