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.