The British mystery genre is where I live. When I’m not watching and covering Canadian TV, I’m streaming light crime dramas from across the pond on AcornTV and BritBox. From Whitstable Pearl to Vera, Harry Wild to Murder in Suburbia, I love them all.
Consider The Spencer Sisters, debuting Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, as Canada’s foray into the genre.
Like the above, The Spencer Sisters features crimes being committed in a fictional small town—Alder Bluffs, Ont.—two female leads at the helm to solve them, a generous dose of humour and, when they happen, bloodless murders. It’s an irresistible formula for success that is even more pronounced thanks to its leads, Lea Thompson and Stacey Farber. The pair crackle with chemistry from the get-go, playing acclaimed mystery novelist Victoria Spencer (Thompson), mom to hot-headed former police officer Darby Spencer (Farber).
“It starts with character,” Thompson says when asked what attracted her to the shot-in-Winnpeg series. “I really liked the character and I love comedy and the comedic elements to this. This is a really good time for this show.”
Created by Alan McCullough (Private Eyes. Rookie Blue) and co-showrun and executive-produced by McCullough and Jenn Engels (Sort Of, Transplant), Friday’s debut “The Scholar’s Snafu,” finds Darby returning to Alder Bluffs after she quits her big-city police force in frustration. For Darby, who looked up to her late cop father, this was all she wanted to do. Dejected, and with nowhere to stay, Darby returns home where it only takes one backhanded comment from Victoria to let viewers know this mother-daughter relationship isn’t rosy. Unlike their characters, who are pretty bristly in the debut, Thompson and Farber connected immediately.
“She was attached to the show before I was,” Farber says. “We did a chemistry read on Zoom and then we met in Winnipeg, had dinner and clicked immediately. We have a similar sense of humour and we’ve both worked for a long time, we have a lot in common.”
The friction between mother and daughter continues throughout the first season. Darby is struggling with her failure as a cop, moving back home and being forced to acknowledge why she has avoided seeing her mother for so long. And Victoria, who has never agreed with Darby’s career choice, wants to be part of her daughter’s life and finds a way to do it through their partnering to solve crimes committed in the community.
“They do learn to get along more, but no, [that friction] never goes away,” Farber says with a laugh. “It’s realistic in that sense. You can think you’ve moved through or on from an issue, but you haven’t.”
The Spencer Sisters airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.
Image courtesy of Bell Media.