THE START OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
The Brokenwood Mysteries follows a pair of deliciously mis-matched detectives as they unravel all kinds of sordid shenanigans in a small, unassuming town. Step forward, Mike Shepherd and Kristin Sims, whose working relationship didn't exactly get off to the best of starts. Picture the scene: Mike, a big city cop unknown to locals, was conducting a bit of surveillance on a street, when Kristin turned up to interrogate him on his suspicious behaviour. Presumably mistaking him for a creepy pervert of some kind. Fortunately, he's no deviant - he's just a bit... peculiar. Let's talk more about that now.
So who is Mike Shepherd? Is he another one of those world-weary alcoholic sleuths, haunted by personal demons? Shockingly, for a TV detective, he isn't. In fact, he's a rather breezy sort of chap, whose main vice is inflicting endless amounts of country and western music on anyone within listening distance. There's also his penchant for collecting ex-wives (the exact number is a mystery). He also takes a rather unconventional approach to policing, being prone to bad taste gags (hey, it lightens the mood at crime scenes), and chit-chatting with corpses. And they're not really deep or profound chats either. "I hear you like golf," is how he opens a conversation with one luckless murder victim. Whatever would Poirot say?
After the success of his first case as a guest copper, Mike decided to up sticks and move to Brokenwood permanently. And despite their initial friction, even Kristin was pleased. Since then, they've cracked some very memorable crimes. One involved a groom-to-be being shot on his stag party - and to think, the worst thing he probably feared was a thumping headache the next day. Then there was the local society woman sprayed with some terrible toxin and left on a golf course to die. And this was supposed to be a QUIET place for Mike to relax in?
THE SECRET STAR OF THE SHOW
Mike Shepherd may have quiet charisma, and Kristin Sims may be appealingly gutsy, but you know who steals every scene? Dr Gina Kadinsky, the local medical examiner with a nice line in blunt, deadpan observations. Hailing from Vladivostok, she has a way of seeing everything through a Russian lens. Even Shakespeare's Hamlet. "He worries too much, complains about everything, takes too long to make up his mind and when he finally does, it all ends badly anyway. Such is life." She's also marvellous when she attempts "English humour" - like the time she examines a man who's had a hand lopped off. "The victim," she says, "was very handsome. Hand. Some. A man with only some of his hands." Genius.
THE PLUCKY SIDEKICK
We should also mention another key member of the Brokenwood contingent. His name is Jared and he's a handsome Maori lad who ducks and dives his way through life in the area. Some might regard him as a bit shady, but he's just so boyishly charming that you'd pretty much forgive him anything. He's also an invaluable ally to Mike Shepherd - think of him as the Boy Wonder to Mike's Batman. Well, maybe that's not the most relevant analogy (Mike would look terrible in tights), but Jared is a sidekick of sorts, giving Mike the lowdown on the town, its people and possible hidden motives for various crimes. Everyone needs a Jared in their lives, quite frankly.
One other thing you need to know about Brokenwood: wine is very, very important to this community. We are in New Zealand's legendary wine country after all, and there are vineyards everywhere. Mike even has vines on his own property, though he probably won't be winning any prizes for his plonk anytime soon. And, considering that one case involved a competition judge murdered, that's probably for the best...