Last week’s premiere of The Blue Rose – the latest drama from Rachel Lang and James Griffin, the team behind Outrageous Fortune – ended abruptly. In fact, it left my spidey senses* tingling, so much so that I held off on reviewing the first episode. It just didn’t feel like the right point at which to review the show.
(Warning: spoilers from the first two episodes of The Blue Rose follow.)
I’m glad I did hold off on that review, because last night’s second episode tied up much of what took place last week and, paired with the first episode, turned what was a muddled, abrupt premiere into an intriguing two-parter (whether that was the intent or not) that introduces us to this world and establishes the characters and their roles within it.
After the suspicious death of Rose, a secretary at a law firm, the temp assigned to replace her – Jane, played by the delightful Antonia Prebble – works with Rose’s best friend Linda (Siobhan Marshall, playing the role with a bit of sass) to uncover the truth behind Rose’s death, uncovering a conspiracy and a group of co-workers fighting for the little guy.
It’s an interesting idea for a show, weaving together a longer serial arc while leaving room for the characters to take on smaller, weekly missions like getting rid of an ex-husband or returning the life savings to a hurting family.
The writing is clever and the first two episodes are tightly paced, but we’d expect no less from Lang and Griffin. The pair has worked on a number of entertaining series at this point, and they know how to put together a great show.
More than just entertaining, the writing here is efficient, quickly getting to know the main characters Jane and Linda (as well as lawyer Simon, played well, albeit subtly, by Matt Minto), while putting in the foundations for a great story as the season goes on (and also popping in a few easter eggs, like the connection to The Smiths’ singer Morrissey).
The first two episodes are also technically brilliant. Director Mark Beesley has done a great job with the script, taking the implication in the writing and realizing it as a taut thriller, full of suspense; many parts of the first episodes invoked the likes of 24 or Homeland, but with a uniquely Kiwi touch.
The music is fantastic too, maintaining the suspenseful vibe, courtesy of former Supergroove singer Karl Steven.
The question is whether the writers can keep it up for the rest of the season, and perhaps beyond. I have faith in Lang and Griffin, and I think they’ll do a typically great job crafting storylines going forward. And while we can see a few of the angles they might seek to explore – a legal battle over Rose’s daughter with douchebag ex-husband Grant, and Jane’s boyfriend developing a crush on Linda, in addition to the ongoing conspiracy we’ve already been introduced to – there is always a risk that the story might unfold too slowly, that The Blue Rose could be caught meandering during later episodes.
We can only wait and see how things turn out, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the show goes next. But regardless of what happens from here, I think it’s safe to say that The Blue Rose is one of the year’s most intriguing new shows, and another success for Lang, Griffin, and the team at South Pacific Pictures.
(*) That reference to “my spidey senses” might be the goofiest thing I’ve ever written.