I am a fan of quirky mystery shows and lately, I’ve been finding most of those types of shows on Britbox or AcornTV, which are British channels on Amazon Video.
Today I thought I’d share with you five of my (and my husband’s) favorite fun, quirky, and unique mystery shows. I’ve mentioned most of them already during my Sunday Bookends post.
Most we watched are based in the UK but one is Canadian and the other is from New Zealand.
Shakespeare and Hathaway
I discovered this one on my own and fell in love with the characters, though I would say I liked Frank Hathaway more than Luella Shakespeare at first. She did grow on me as I continued to watch.
The premise of the show is that the two are an oddball detective team. Frank was working as a private detective when he met Luella who came to him to find out if her fiancé was cheating on her. At the conclusion of that case (you’ll have to watch it to find out what happens), Lu essentially invites herself to work with Frank as a fellow detective.
Frank is also a former police detective who has a contentious relationship with the local police because of that. As the series goes on you learn a little bit more about why he left the police force and became a detective instead.
Sebastian is Frank’s flamboyant and talented assistant. He’s also an inspiring actor. Of course, to fit the title, the show is based in Stratford-upon-Avon and plays into the Shakespeare theme quite a bit.
At the end of one season, we thought Sebastian was going to leave and I literally cried.
The show is in its fourth season on BritBox on Amazon and I’m not sure what the future holds for it, but luckily we have all the past episodes to enjoy.
This was a new one for us this year, thanks to Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs.
The show focuses on Detective Mike Shepherd and his assistants, Detective Kristin Simms and Detective Sam Breen. They solve mysteries in the small New Zealand town of Brokenwood. Similar to other small-town mystery shows, it’s surprising how many people are murdered in this place. It’s like the crime capital of New Zealand and it’s a town of like 600. They might run out of people to kill soon.
What I like about this show is, well, Mike for one —he’s awesome — but I also like that it has reoccurring characters who often play integral parts of each 90-minute episode. When we are watching it, we find ourselves wondering if one of the usual community members will finally get caught up and charged with murder or some other crime.
There is a lot of mystery about Mike’s past, including how he knows a woman in town who used to be in the witness protection program and if this is why he ended up in the town to help with an investigation in the first place. He has a very unique investigation style, including talking to the deceased when he arrives on a scene. No, they don’t answer back, but he feels it’s a way of reassuring them he will find out who killed them.
Mike is a huge fan of country music and thanks to the show, my husband and I have discovered a ton of New Zealand country music we never knew existed. We absolutely love the music for the show, in other words.
I also love the handyman, or whatever he is, Jared Morehu, who becomes a friend of Mike’s and is helping him grow wine grapes to eventually make wine from. Jared is of Maori descent. The Maori are indigenous Polynesian people who settled in New Zealand and are considered the first settlers of the country.
Another fun, quirky, and weird character is the coroner, Gina Kadinsky, who is Russian and has a very dark, dry sense of humor. Her character does poke a bit of fun at the Russian stereotype, but she keeps the laughter in the show, which is fairly light but does have some darker themes at times.
There are currently seven seasons of the show up on Amazon through Acorn TV. Season 8 is supposed to be up sometime this year, according to some information I found online. It will be on New Zealand TV in mid-2022.
Murdoch Mysteries was something my husband discovered a year or so ago, maybe longer. We’ve been watching it off and on since then.
The show does not feature the best acting at times and the “special effects” are a bit corny, but we still can’t stop watching.
The show follows quirky Detective William Murdoch, a detective in 1890s Toronto, Canada. There are currently 15 seasons of the show, and I would recommend starting in the beginning because I feel the show has gone off the rails a bit as it has progressed. All 15 seasons are on AcornTV through Amazon.
I am sure many of you will ponder what I have the entire time I’ve watched the show, which is — Is Detective Murdoch wearing eyeliner? I believe he is indeed so there; you don’t have to wonder anymore.
The show follows Murdoch as the main character but also the female coroner Dr. Julia Ogden, Constable George Crabtree, Inspector Thomas Brackenreid, and Constable Henry Higgins (which always makes me think of the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary). There is mystery, action, intrigue and romance.
Again, though, be warned, sometimes it can be a little silly. I think silly and light is fun and welcome, though, so I don’t mind a bit of silly in my shows.
This show is based on books by Maureen Jennings, and I believe they are a little darker than the show. There is also a movie available online and it is much, much darker.
The cast loves to have fun and to show that there have been many short features created as well for fans.
Death in Paradise
I believe this is one I discovered first, a few years ago now.
The show is filmed in the French Caribbean on Guadeloupe Island. For the show the island is called Saint Marie.
The first season kicks off with Detective Inspector Richard Poole coming to the island to investigate the murder of a British police officer. After he solves the case, he is ordered by his superiors at the Metropolitan Police in London to remain on staff on the tiny island. The “staff” are three other officers serving the entire, tiny island. Realistic? I don’t know, but it’s also very disconcerting so many people die on this island. If I was going to choose somewhere to vacation to, I’d definitely choose some place else based on the crime rate here.
So far, we have gone through four detective inspectors in eleven seasons. There seems to be a bit of a rotating door, in other words, but I’ve heard this is partially because they actually film in the French Caribbean and while this provides lovely views, it requires the actors to be away from their families for months at a time. This is why the first DI, actor Ben Miller, left the show after only two seasons.
Each DI has their own quirk, which becomes a joke throughout the show. The first DI was very uptight, stuck-up, and a clean freak. The second DI was accident-prone, the third is dealing with the death of his wife and brings his daughter and is a bit awkward (as all the DI’s are), and the fourth I have not seen yet, but reading up on it, it looks like he has a lot of allergies, including to mosquitoes, which are, of course, abundant on the island.
The show also features native island officers who apparently are too dumb to solve cases without the British detectives who are much more clever, smart, and quite frankly “crime-solving geniuses”.
The show features somewhat light crimes, with a dark edge, but nothing so dark you find yourself up all night thinking about the horrors of the world. Well…usually anyhow. I will admit that some of the episodes have left me fairly disturbed, including a couple in the first season. It’s not a gruesome show for the sake of being gruesome, though, which is one reason I like it.
The Mallorca Files
This is another escape-type mystery show, different from the others because it is based in Mallorca, which is a tiny island off the coast of Spain.
It is interesting because it has very international flavor. While it is set in Mallorca, the one detective is German, the other British and the captain and other characters are Spanish.
Each episode is a new mystery and characters don’t necessarily carry over, other than the detectives.
There have only been two seasons of this show so far and you can find them on BritBox on Amazon (just an aside here, I am not getting paid by Amazon for this post. It just happens to be where we watch most of our favorite shows at this time.) Season two of the show was cut short by the You Know What and it isn’t clear yet if there will be a season three, but if there is, I’ve read that the last four episodes will be added to season three.
The Poirot made for TV movies
There are several versions of the Agatha Christie character Hercule Poirot but our favorite is David Suchet, so we have watched several of the movies starring him as the short Belgium detective.
Most of the movies can be found streaming on . . . you guessed it! BritBox.
Father Brown Mysteries
Like Agatha Raisin (which didn’t get mentioned in this particular post, but might in a future post), this show went off the rails a bit for me in about the sixth season, but I am going to try it again. There are nine seasons currently on Britbox.
Not only did some of my favorite characters leave the show but they had a couple of episodes that were just very unnerving and well, to sound like a prude, a bit dirty for my taste (if you’re new to this blog, yes, I am a prude about some things and not a prude about others. *wink*).
Father Brown is a Catholic Priest who gets wrapped up in a type of amateur sleuthing and pulls his housekeeper and others into the sleuthing with him. If you are familiar with the American Father Dowling Mysteries, this is similar except Father Dowling was the American version of Father Brown.
According to research, Father Dowling was also based on Father Brown which is based on books written by G.K. Chesterton in the early 1900s.
This is the second incarnation of Father Brown from British television. There was another series in the 70s.
So, there you go — some fun mystery shows to get hooked on today. What are you waiting for? Turn off the news and social media and lose yourself in the world of quirky and fun mysteries.