Blue Murder – Series one DVD Review

Acorn Media

The pilot episode of this British crime drama opens with Detective Inspector, Janine Lewis, rushing home to surprise her husband with the news of her promotion to Detective Chief Inspector. After dragging her pregnant belly and a bottle of champagne up a flight of stairs, she finds her husband, Pete, in bed with another woman. In the next scene, she is pouring the champagne down the drain and we know that a big part of her life is going with it.

Sound depressing? Well, it’s not. Caroline Quentin, best known for her comedic turns in Men Behaving Badly and Whose Line is it Anyway?, plays Janine with strength, sensitivity and humor. She’s like Mary Beth Lacey, except funnier and with a Manchester accent. Besides dealing with 3-and-a-half kids and a wayward husband, she must gain the respect of her superior officer, who was pressured into promoting her because she is a minority, and the peers she was promoted over. Over the course of the first series, we see her gain that respect, not by demanding it, but by assuming it.

In other shows about working women, we see women changes faces when they come home. Not so with Janine. The sensitivity and fortitude that make her a good mom also make her a good detective. In her first case as a DCI, she goes to the scene of a grisly murder straight from combing nits out of her daughter’s hair. A woman who can handle two sticky, young kids with head lice, a surly teenage son and cleaning her own loo, can certainly deal with the blood and gore of a crime scene. She describes the body to her staff: “As the wound was large enough to expose the intestine, I’m off tripe for the duration.”

One of the things I find most appealing about Caroline Quentin, other than her fine comedic timing, is the fact that she is 5’4” and, shall we say, nicely rounded. The show does not make a point of Janine’s physical size, she’s just a normal woman who licks her fingers after eating her scones and makes faces when she eats yogurt. She could be my best friend.

Other regular characters include her worldly wise neighbor and best friend, Sara, who is always ready with a bottle of red wine and a sympathetic ear; DI Richard Mayne, a seriously sexy detective with whom Janine has a past; and DS Butchers and DS Shap, who are able detectives and the staff clowns.

Some American viewers might have trouble with the Manchester accents, but you develop an ear for it after awhile and it’s lots of fun learning new slang. I’ve finally figured out that the slang term “bullocks” doesn’t mean the same as “bull s—“. This little bit of dialog is how I finally got it:

DS Shap: I’ve heard it might be a ritual killing.
Janine: Bullocks! – Er, no, they were intact, actually.

OK, I’m from a rather sheltered background but I’m open to new concepts.

Noami Krueger
For more reviews by Naomi, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.