Dr Lucien Blake is fine doctor, serving the people of Ballarat well. He inherited his father’s house, surgery, practice and car (though the latter is in need of some attention) and in settling back into rural Victoria after serving in the armed forces during World War II is doing his best to make a go of being home. But the war has left an indelible imprint on him – secrets – and his forward-thinking and “reckless” ways are not appreciated by some. Welcome to The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
Acting as the town’s GP, confidante and police medical officer, Blake (Craig McLachlan) shares his time in caring for his patients and assisting the local constabulary by performing autopsies. Who’d have thought Ballarat was such a hot bed for murder?! His housekeeper Jean Beazley (Nadine Garner) cares for him like she did his father, though he’s a tad more eccentric than Dr Blake Snr. Mrs Beazley also looks after her nephew, Constable Danny Parks (Rick Donald), and boarder District Nurse Mattie O’Brien (Cate Wolfe) – a firebrand in the making. An interesting household to say the least.
McLachlan is a joy to behold as the Doctor with the hidden past. He’s subtle and careful, revealing snippets of his personality and past as the episodes progress, and as someone who can remember him (mullet and all) as Henry Blake on Neigbours, this Blake is a welcome return to the small screen. Garner also delightful as the stoic and ever-present Mrs Beasley. Joel Tobeck is suitably hard as Chief Superintendent Matthew Lawson (did you know he was an Orc Lieutenant in Return Of The King?) and John Wood is continues his screen-commanding roles with his occasionally viewed Patrick Tyneman, head of the local club and keep of the town’s morals. Both Rick Donald & Cate Wolfe are marvellous young finds and bring smart angles to their respective characters (Wolfe’s sassiness as O’Brien plays well against the occasional stodginess of Blake).
It’s an original new Australian crime drama series spread across 10 episodes. Created by producer George Adams, Blake is brought to vivid life by he and executive producer Tony Wright to offer an authentic look at an Australia cusping on the 60’s and all it would bring. Entirely charming and completely more-ish to watch (this writer consumed 4 episodes in one sitting with ease) The Doctor Blake Mysteries continues the tradition set last year by Miss Phyrne Fisher and is likely to eclipse it, such is the quality combination of story, cast and locations. A modern nostalgic classic.
The Doctor Blake Mysteries – starts Fri Feb 1 8:30pm, ABC1.