Sunday the 17th saw the return of the popular Australian murder mystery, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, set in late 1950s Ballarat. The first installment of the much-anticipated fifth season more than lived up to expectations.

Centred around a boxing match turned deadly, the episode balances the thrill of the murder case with the unfurling drama in the private lives of the characters.
The protagonist, Lucien Blake (Craig McLachlan), blends the perfect amount of cheeky mischief and dad-charm, with a healthy helping of genius. This season promises to feature his will-they-won’t-they relationship with his straightlaced housekeeper, Jean (Nadine Garner). And apparently, they will, to the delight of fans of the show.

The star of this episode, despite adorable glimpses of the lead couples flourishing romance, has to be Sergeant Charlie Davis. Portrayed by the gorgeous Charlie Cousins, his backstory is explored when family come to town only to be embroiled in the investigation. A masterful performance utilises Cousins’ range; simmering tension and an older brother-turned-father role giving way to betrayal and conflict in a nuanced and graceful performance.

As ever, the narrative moves through beautiful shots of Australian scenery, dancing across the suburban and country landscapes and through cultural landmarks of an earlier decade. Classic cars and challenges of a bygone era artfully evoke nostalgia for a time most don’t even remember.

A compelling beginning to the season, the first episode paves the way for an explosive final season of the ABC original show. The Doctor Blake Mysteries airs Sundays 8:30, ABC 1.

From the Press Release:

Doctor Lucien Blake and his long-suffering housekeeper and confidant Jean Beazley now face a new future together, full of possibility… but life has a few more surprises in store for the both of them.

Once again they’ll be confronted by murder and mystery at every turn. From the boxing ring to a new French bistro, from an exotic camp of travelling Romani gypsies to the local Debutante Ball…

And amongst all of this, loyalties will be tested, friendships will be strained and faith will be challenged. Will Blake and Jean finally find the happiness they so richly deserve? Is Charlie ready for more responsibility at the Station? How will Rose work with two generations of the Tyneman’s? And who is the avenging nemesis from the past?

Doctor Blake is ready to solve a series of strange and shocking crimes. But he’s about to discover that each and every one of his actions has consequences. And no good deed ever goes unpunished…

Production Credits: A December Media Production in association with ABC TV and Film Victoria. Producers George Adams and Tony Wright. Executive Producer Stuart Menzies and Associate Producer Craig McLachlan. ABC Executive Producers Brett Sleigh and Alastair McKinnon.