Deadloch 2023 / The deft balance between its quippy humor, progressive sensibility, and compelling mystery ground this ambitious Aussie show


Deadloch begins like any other self-serious police procedural. A body washes up on shore, sparking widespread fear and a twisty mystery that eventually and intriguingly reveals layers of itself. Local officer Dulcie Collins (Kate Box) takes to it like it’s the most important case in the world, and for some reason, everything we see onscreen is tinged in gray, as if the town is set under a perpetual stormcloud. 

Then a joke finds its way into the dialogue, followed by another, and another. The show, it turns out, is as much of a sitcom as it is a mystery, with Dulcie acting as the straight man grounding us through the kookiness of it all. The rest of the characters are actual characters, wonderfully zany and larger-than-life as they bumble around and commit small-town gaffes. A hearse screeches to a halt when a random passerby yells, “You’re going the wrong way!”, and a millennial policewoman exclaims, “I can’t believe I’m on a stakeout! It’s so aggressively police-y.” 

It’s quite the risk to be both funny and serious, to dole out this many jokes while solving multiple murders, but Deadloch pulls it off with so much charm to spare. It’s a refreshing take on the buddy-cop series, ambitious and modern and unafraid to laugh at itself every once in a while.

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