There’s a new detective in town, and CBC’s hoping she’s as popular as Detective William Murdoch. Frankie Drake Mysteries, debuting Monday at 9 p.m. after Murdoch Mysteries, is chockfull of sass, swagger and, yes, murder.
Frankie Drake Mysteries also shares key DNA with Murdoch Mysteries. The drama is produced by Shaftesbury, who also produce Murdoch, and series co-creators, Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, were longtime writers on Murdoch (learn how Frankie Drake came to be) with fellow Murdochian producer/director Cal Coons doing showrunning duties on Frankie Drake.
So, what sets it apart? Frankie Drake Mysteries is set in 1920s Toronto, a time of change in society in general and for women in particular. The series follows Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) at Drake Private Detectives, the city’s only all-female detective agency, as they fight crime in the age of flyboys, gangsters, rum-runners and speakeasies. Frankie Drake Mysteries is a riot of flashy wardrobe, sparkling cars, jazzy soundtrack and funky settings. There is a sense of lightness and fun—aside from the murders of course—and a fast pace.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind,” Smith says during a break in filming on location in Hamilton, Ont. “We’re sort of discovering things as we go along. I’m certainly discovering things about the character as we go along. The writers are kind of doing that on purpose, giving us little snippets here and there.” Last seen on This Life, Smith says she was immediately drawn to Frankie upon reading the first script and had an idea of who she was, looked like and moved. As viewers will see in Monday’s debut, Frankie struts through life with confidence with a twinkle in her eye and a crooked grin.
Along for the 11-episode first season ride with Smith and Riley are Sharron Matthews as Flo, a Toronto morgue assistant; Emmanuel Kabongo as boxer Moses Page; and Rebecca Liddiard as morality officer Mary Shaw. Season 1 guest stars include Lucas Bryant, Steven Lund, Derek McGrath, Grace Lynn Kung and Wendy Crewson, who drops by to play Nora Amory in Episode 1.
“I am having a blast,” Crewson says between takes. “I’m playing woman of that era who is able to understand psychology and really sort of played on men’s egos. Men thought they were smarter and [Nora] plays to that weakness.” Of course, not all is as it appears with Nora and that shakes Frankie to her core.
And while Frankie struggles with the information Nora has for her in Monday’s debut, Smith had some major issues behind the scenes thanks to the 1920s car she was tasked with driving.
“The car and I have a tumultuous relationship,” Smith says with a laugh. “I was trying to make friends with her by saying, ‘Come on, girl. I know you’re old-timey and a little rusty, but let’s be friends.’ I realize she wants to be bossed around by a strong person behind the wheel. She has caught on fire twice, she stalls constantly, the brakes only work sometimes and to go forward you need to put her in reverse.”
Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.