Law of the Lawless


Imagine if Aubrey Plaza was head writer on Midsomer Murders, and you have a good idea what to expect from the wonderful 2019 Australian crime series MY LIFE IS MURDER, now on Blu-Ray from Acorn Media/RJL Entertainment/Screen Australia/Network 10/Film Victoria.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, but some real careful sarcastic planning went into this irreverent detective series starring Lucy Lawless, in what is likely to become her mature signature role.  Lawless (who also functions as co-Executive Producer) plays Alexa Crowe, a former top sleuth on the force (and a widower of her apparent male counterpart), now happily eking out a living as a gourmet pastry chef/supplier for a chic Melbourne cafe.

But Alexa, who also majored in verbal smackdowns, was sooooo good at her job that old boss, D.I. Kieran Hussey, occasionally drops by with unsolvable homicide case files that Crowe manages to dash off as expertly as one of her brioches.  So, unofficially, she’s back in (infrequent) action, and even has been given an equally cynical tech-savvy sidekick, Madison Feliciano (The Heart Guy‘s terrific Ebony Vagulans).

Granted, the cases are high-profile and upper class situated – and, frankly, probably will be solved by experienced armchair gumshoes scrutinizing the narratives.  But, as I often like to say, getting there is half the fun; well, in MY LIFE IS MURDER, it’s ALL the fun.

The shows are superbly scripted (Matt Ford, Peter Gawler, Ainslie Clouston, Chris Hankshaw, Claire Tonkin, Tim Pye, Monica Zanetti, Paul Bennett, Chris Corbett), directed (Leah Purcell, Mat King, Jovita O’Shaughnessy. Ben C. Lucas) and, most importantly photographed (Matthew Temple).  In regard to the latter, I can’t recall recently seeing any series so beautifully rendered in urban and suburban imagery; damn, Melbourne is one gorgeous place.

Blowing the lids off such corrupt-friendly targets as cooking schools, the music business, psychics, health clubs, posh private learning institutions, the cosmetic industry, funerals, P.R. firms and more, MURDER, as indicated, benefits from the sharp dialog and, seamless chemistry between Lawless and Vagulans.  Their can-you-top-this byplay mercifully transcends the Spielbergian antagonistic cuteness that has infantilized the American motion picture and television factions; it is genuine and, oft-inspired gotcha snarkasm (again, it would be negligible if it weren’t for the fact that Alexa and Madison’s quips thinly mask an under-the-surface mutual affection).

While the other regulars (Alex Andreas, Todd River, Dilruk Jayasinha, Kate McCartney) do excellent work, Lawless is flawless in her depiction of a don’t-fuck-with-me shamus.  The guest casts additionally ratchet up the fun element of the show, and include such stellar Oz punims as Don Hany, Magda Szubanski, Adrienne Pickering, Nadine Garner.  One ep (The Locked Room), features former Xena inhabitant Danielle Cormack, and you can practically see the two formidable actresses lip-biting to not break up during some of their confrontational moments.

The Acorn Blu-Ray of MY LIFE IS MURDER is (what else?) stunning.  The High-Def visuals matched by the 2.0 stereo-surround will rock your home theater (a perky music score by Burkhard von Dallwitz and Brett Alpin is another plus.  The ten episode set (spread over three platters) is appended by over a half-hour of behind-the-scenes footage and even some animated gag shorts.

Soooooo looking forward to Alexa’s further adventures.  Hey, if you can’t laugh at killing, why bother living?

MY LIFE IS MURDER. Color. Widescreen [1.78:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HD MA. Acorn Media/RLJ Entertainment/Screen Austrailia/Film Victoria/CJZ Productions/Network 10. CAT# AMP-2733. SRP: $59.95.



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