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Following the failure of a relationship high-flying solicitor Jane Kennedy returns to the small Devon coastal town of Lighthaven, that she left when she was a teenager. She takes up the position of coroner investigating sudden, violent and suspicious deaths. Jane moves back, with her teenage daughter Beth to live with her mother. In her new role Jane must work alongside Davey Higgins, the boy who once broke her heart, who is now the local Detective Sergeant.Written by
There are quite a lot of female detectives bouncing about nowadays. They're usually single, middle aged, with a complicated family situation and ditto love life. This series takes a leaf from the same book, with the only difference that the 'detective' is a coroner.
It's not very original or serious drama, but then it doesn't pretend to be be either. It's light entertainment and it knows it. On BBC One it's perched between 'Doctors' and 'Escape to the Country' for a reason. It's made for daytime TV.
Within its limits, the better episodes can be entertaining. The investigating duo, Jane and detective Davey (who also have a romantic history together) are rather enjoyable to watch. The gay coroner's assistant Clint is also funny and well chosen.
Some of the steady cast is less entertaining. Especially 'horny hippos' Judith (Jane's mother) and her equally weighty lover Mick (a pub owner sporting a 24/7 'Fat John Silver' persona) are getting rather tiresome after the tenth 'nine and a half weeks' impression in the family kitchen (whereby the 'hilarious' fat-guy-in-a- peignoir gag is repeated every single time). Why flaunt raunchy obese elderly people in every episode? Yes, these people have sex too. Most of us figured that already, so that's no reason to rub our faces in it every single time. Also, Judith doesn't want Jane to move out (she's enraged when Jane looks at a lovely cottage for sale) but never fails to mention it's her house they live in. Sensible grown ups don't live like that. It's hard to imagine a supposedly intelligent and responsible coroner would continue to live like that instead of doing the sensible thing and move out. It's quite obvious drama for drama's sake, and therefore rather boring and annoying.
Another gripe is the purple haired persona of Beth, Jane's daughter. The kid is all right, but she looks like the impression of a teenager by middle aged people without kids of their own. (They all got purple hair now, don't they? So let's do that every episode). It looks contrived and outdated.
The little stories are (just) entertaining enough. Some reviewers compared it to 'Midsomer Murders', the well known detective series. Whilst both are in the 'detective light' category, the latter is much better made than 'The Coroner'. Both demand some suspense of disbelief, but with 'Midsomer Murders' it's much easier to let go and enjoy the ride, because you know you're in a different realm altogether, whereas 'The Coroner' tries to be 'relevant' and 'realistic' and fails to deliver. You can't be all rustic and piraty on one side, and tackle immigration and women's issues simultaneously. It's tacky and gratuitous, and doesn't do justice to serious issues or light entertainment. Just pick one.
It's a halfway decent time-passer, and can sometimes be entertaining. This review is based on season one. Perhaps season two will bring some needed improvement, otherwise it probably won't last nearly as long as 'Midsomer Murders'.
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