Frankie Drake Mysteries: Season 4
(Lauren Lee Smith, Chantel Riley, Rebecca Liddiard, Sharron Matthews, et al / 3-DVD / PG-13 / 2021 / PBS)
Overview: Season Four opens with our intrepid detectives Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) and their best gal pals, Mary Shaw (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo Chakowitz (Sharron Matthews), traipsing through the woods on a scavenger hunt that quickly turns deadly.
From the wilderness to the world of high society, from an underground cabaret to a candy factory, Frankie and Trudy investigate murders, kidnappings, heists and poisonings. Using her position as a morality officer, Mary is able to snoop through police files and be privy to non-civilian discussions, while Flo lends a hand with autopsy reports, science experiments, and her newly acquired medical skills.
As always, amid high-stakes danger, excitement, intrigue and friendship, the women find their balance in their lives outside of work. Frankie has a European race car-driving beau; Trudy’s dreams of home-sweet-home are closer than ever; Mary falls for the wrong fella; and Flo starts a family.
DVD Verdict: In truth, I’m very glad I gave this show a chance, because it’s a lot of fun! I was concerned about other people I talked to about it, saying it was not as good as another favorite of mine, Murdoch Mysteries, but I should not have feared for one second, for Frankie Drake Mysteries is as great a show as I could ever have hoped for!
Oh, and continual comparisons to Miss Fisher Mysteries are unfair as sure, they are both women in the 1920s solving mysteries, but the similarities end there. It’s like saying Albert Campion is derivative of Lord Peter Wimsey because they’re both male detectives in the 1930s!
That all said, sure, it did take a few episodes for everything to click from the off, but right from the start the actresses were engaging and interesting.
Frankie is the calm center around which some lively characters spin. At times Lauren Lee Smith seems to underplay the part, but when Nora arrives, it makes for a stark and entertaining contrast in personalities.
And here in the wondrous fourth (and sadly, last) season, the writing just gets better with each episode and, for me, the highlight episode is the very opening one, the quite brilliant Scavenger Hunt - where our gals are on a spirited search for clues, when a player is murdered and, of course, they need to figure out if it is a case of killing off the competition, or something more personal!
Throughout the series, my only gripe would be the producers constant appeal in trying to shoe horn in real historical figures from their time into the (at times) zany narrative re: the guy who played Hemingway was terrible and boring and added nothing to the story and the episode with Mack Sennett would have been better if it were a Mack Sennett type instead!
For, and in my humble opinion, the real-life figures hamper the ability to tell the stories creatively. Otherwise, the plots are enjoyable fun and a good way to spend some time inside battling the Pandemic blues!
Other stand outs are the supporting cast is excellent. Actresses Riley Liddiard, Kung, and Matthews are a real pleasure to watch as are also the male actors, particularly Lemke.
Another stand out, sadly, is the season-ender A Family Affair, where a shakeup in all our gals’ lives sees Frankie’s dad alive but in danger, Trudy leaving Drake Private Detectives, Mary going on the record, and Flo’s new family being threatened.
Add to that a VERY startling, yet wholly foreseen ending scene (which, given that the show was cancelled means we will now never know what happened!) means the show leaves us on an unwarranted, and totally unfair for all its beloved viewers (much like myself) cliffhanger! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
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