I do love a good detective drama.
Not the sort with grizzly murders and serial killers and nastiness, but the nice, gentle, personality focused sort. Regular readers will know of my mild obsession with Poirot, and a recent Netflix discovery was Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries. I have a tendency to binge watch stuff and I was pretty heart broken when I got to the end of Miss Fishers on Netflix, so when I got asked to review a new period detective drama on channel Drama I was quite excited!
The Pinkertons is a little bit outside my normally favoured early to mid 20th Century drama decades, we’re more corsets and crinolines than finger waves and flappers. It is right up my street in the detective story stakes though. It’s set in the 1860s US and based (pretty loosely I suspect) on real life cases from The Pinkerton Detective agency who were very active in the late 1800s, solving many high profile cases. Allan Pinkerton is also considered to be the originator of the mugshot and of the use of surveillance and undercover detective work, so there should be lots of juicy fodder for a TV series. The show also features Kate Warne, who in real life was the first female detective in the US and worked undercover and in disguise to solve many cases gaining information from suspects and their wives that male detectives could never hope to have obtained. Apparently she marched into Allan Pinkertons office shortly after the death of her husband and surprised him by not looking for clerical work, but instead demanding to be made a detective.
Episode one starts with the crime we’ll be investigating, a train robbery and murder of a Yankee sharpshooter, and then quickly moves onto setting the scene. We are introduced to Allan Pinkerton, owner of the Detective agency and his cocky son Will who’s more fond of drinking and playing cards and living off his wits than he is of hard work. We then very promptly meet Kate, our lady detective, who sets about cutting Will down to size with actual knowledge and detective work.
I’m one episode in and I feel like there’s something there that could be really good, but that this could be a bit of a slow burner that takes a few episodes to really get into the characters and what makes them tick. I’m fascinated by the character of Kate, but I was hoping for her to be a little bit sassier. So far she seems quiet, clever and resourceful, but not particularly strong. I can sort of sense it there, bubbling under the surface, so hopefully it’ll come a bit more to the fore as the characters develop. The relationship between her and Will could also turn out to be one of those interestingly antagonistically flirty kind of relationships given a bit of time.
Being set in the Wild West there’s not a lot of the glamour that I particularly enjoyed in shows like Miss Fishers and Poirot, but Will and Kate are city dwellers at heart, seemingly keen to return to Chicago so there’s some fun to be had flinging them into the lawless West. Kates chest of disguises could throw up some exciting plotlines and a little variation in costume in future as well, we’ve already had a glimpse of her more glamorous side as a Mint Julep drinking Southern Belle!
Drama is a freeview channel that’s great for rewatching UK dramas like Call the Midwife and Sharpe (I love Sharpe!) but this is the first time that it’s acquired the rights to a brand new drama for the UK. I’m planning to set this on series record and when I’ve got 3 or 4 episodes stored up I can indulge in my Sunday afternoon “hobby” of eating chocolate, drinking wine and binge watching drama series in my pyjamas. I feel it’s important to have hobbies, though I’m not exactly sure how I would phrase this one for a CV?
If you’ve missed the start, no worries, it’s one of those individual story episode dramas that’s easy to catch up on, so I don’t think you’ve missed much, and you can always read the handy recap on the Drama website!