Star rating: ****
A new BBC Four crime drama from Australia, Mystery Road is worth a watch if you enjoy this particular genre and fancy a fresh take on your standard whodunit.
From the first episode the scene is set, and the location sets the tone of the drama, the team behind the show have certainly made the most of what Western Australia has to offer and it makes for some superb shots. The areas of Aboriginal land which were also used and added to the atmospheric approach which provided a very real overall feel to the television series.
The central character of Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson) came across as somewhat of an introvert in the loosest sense, my initial impression of him was that of arrogance and nonchalance – certainly not an instantly likeable individual. However, as he gets to work on the task in hand, investigating the disappearance of two farmhands (a backpacker and a footballer), it’s clear he’s the right man for the job. Thorough in the extreme and eventually works well with the local copper he’s paired with, Emma James (Judy Davis).
The six episodes, which were originally shown over the summer on the ABC network before their recent broadcast on BBC Four, culminate in a story within a story as the crime that is under investigation unravels another story. There is more to the community than meets the eye and it’s sure to turn you into an armchair detective.
The strong points of this drama are most definitely the solid characters, especially in the wider community, who each has their skeletons and whom it’s easy to care about. I also think that Judy Davis is a superb choice for the role of Emma James – a determined performance, quite fascinating characterisation too. Direction from Rachel Perkins is exceptional, she knows how to tell a story! I’m on the fence about Jay Swan, as the main man I wasn’t as inspired by him as I have been by previous detectives in other dramas. However, he’s an interesting person and engaging, there’s no denying that Aaron Pederson has captured the character well. He’s not stereotypical and that’s refreshing.
Mystery Road is worth a watch, it’s a no holds barred, rough and ready piece of drama and there are a few edge of your seat moments too.
The good news is that you can own Mystery Road on DVD! Click the image below to get your hands on a copy: