'Da Vinci's Inquest,' Season 1 - TV Review

If the original "Law and Order" had a baby with "Bones" and the baby moved to Vancouver, you'd have "Da Vinci's Inquest." (Don't let the fact that "Bones" post-dates "Da Vinci's Inquest" throw off the comparison - it's otherwise surprisingly accurate.)

Dominic Da Vinci (played by Nicholas Campbell) is a coroner in Vancouver. One of the two pathologists working with him in the Coroner's office is his ex-wife (played by Gwynyth Walsh), who's now dating their boss (Chief Coroner James Flynn, played by Robert Wisden). This is all set up in the first ten minutes of the pilot: this show is going to be partly about the personal lives of the characters. We also follow the police officers who work with them, notably new Detective Mick Leary (Ian Tracey), Detective Angela Kosmo (Venus Terzo), and older Detective Leo Shannon (Donnelly Rhodes). They solve cases, like any crime drama show. But unlike any other, this isn't primarily about the cases: it's about the people. Case story arcs last an episode, two, eight ... and sometimes they're not even entirely resolved. The people's stories flow across episodes, with no neatly containerized story lines - they just keep going. And they don't feel the need (so far ...) to create a serial murderer who locks two of the leads in a buried car to ratchet up tension (I'm looking at you, "Bones"). This is work, this is people's lives. Work which most of them are pretty passionate about - and something you see in the show more than once is the consequences of these people getting sloppy or lazy (it happens when you do it every day until you're exhausted, even when you're passionate about it). They deal with prostitution, drug deaths, drownings, bad convictions ... The show is varied.

Until I saw this, I thought "Slings and Arrows" was the only really good Canadian TV show (and weirdly, I think it's the best TV show ever made ...). But now I'm happy to acknowledge that my home country has produced at least one more, and it gives me hope. The viewer doesn't have the "satisfaction" of seeing a case wrapped up every episode, but I'm finding in the long run it's much more satisfying tracking a very good story with well drawn characters slowly achieving what they want to achieve. So not all individual cases are solved: they're still making their city a better place. It's a real pleasure to watch.

(And there's Jewel Staite as the Da Vinci's daughter, a few years before she took care of the engine on Serenity ...)