Review: Bellevue 1×1 (Canada: CBC)

A confused attempt at Canadian Noir

In Canada: Mondays, 9pm, CBC

They say one of the reasons that Denmark likes its horrific murder-mysteries on TV so much is that it’s one of the nicest places in the world to live. With no emotional darkness in their lives, allegedly, the happy old Hygge-filled Danes have to live vicariously through Nordic Noir.

I’m assuming that’s why lovely, happy Canada appears to be developing its own equivalent. We’ve already seen CTV’s Cardinal firmly embracing the darkness to pioneer ‘Canadian Noir’ and now we have CBC plummeting into similar territory, although putting its own, very CBC spin on it. Here, we have Anna Paquin (The Piano, X-MenTrue Blood) playing a cop in the small town of Bellevue, investigating the disappearance of a trans teenage hockey star. Has he been beaten by homophobic fans or is something more sinister afoot?

Suspecting a known paedophile who’s moved into town, she’s surprised when her suspect is expecting her and even more surprised when he hands her a note that appears to be from her father. Or at least whoever it was who pretended to be her father after he died. Because when Paquin was just a kid, a teenage girl was killed and posed as the Virgin Mary in the nativity, outside the local church. Paquin’s cop dad was in charge of finding the killer and when he failed, he committed suicide. Except a few years later, Paquin started receiving riddles addressed to her by her dad…

Bellevue is a bit of a botch job. One moment it’s trying to be The Killing (and failing). The next it’s trying to be The Exorcist III (and failing). The next it’s trying to be Broadchurch (and failing). It’s hard to know what mood the story will be in from moment to moment, and everything joins together as smoothly as if the writer had been given a bucket of fish and a crochet kit and been asked to turn them into a Ford Fiesta.

To its credit, its efforts to show small-town Canadian life make it a little bit different from other shows, but the dialogue is pretty cringe-worthy, especially anything involving new cop in town Sharon Taylor (Stargate Atlantis). It has a fine cast, too, particularly Paquin who’s given a chance to show off her Oscar-winning range, but also Shawn Doyle (Endgame, Frequency, Vegas, This Life) as her boss and substitute father-figure.

However, Bellevue has very little else to go for it, so if you are going to watch some of this new breed of Canadian Noir, Cardinal is a superior choice by far.

  • MissFitz88

    After 3 episodes I’m less enamoured of this series than I first was. She charges headlong into danger, unarmed, at every turn and never faces any consequences. Strong, independent woman has to have a booty call up against a car in a parking lot (tricking her ex-husband into being said booty) when she gets stressed. I’ll give it one more episode. She doesn’t eat, she doesn’t sleep, she doesn’t bathe, she doesn’t change her clothes.

  • kazjar

    Hey, CBC, can you wedge one more special interest group into the cast of characters? Unwatchable after first episode. Take a lesson from Cardinal on how to make a believable small town mystery. Otherwise, stick to Murdoch Mysteries.

  • Donald Gill

    To tell you the truth, a viewer has to watch this show uninterrupted and without blinking and without distractions in order to even begin to understand everything that’s going on. There’s just way too many things happening in this story. Complicate it with characters that all seem to be trying to deceive one another, messed up characters whose failed personalities are helping to contribute to this train wreck, and we’ve got a show that I realize i have no interest in trying to follow any more. Enough! I’m outta here!