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I Newspaper 25 September 2019

My Life is Murder on Alibi (UK) 3/5 stars

Lucy Lawless achieved cult status in the 1990s fantasy classic Xena: Warrior Princess, but in Australian drama My Life is Murder, she joins the ever-expanding ranks of TV detectives, playing Melbourne-based investigator Alexa Crowe. Crowe used to be on the police force, but now spends her time making bread with a complicated German gadget called a Loobenschwegen. Screenwriter Matt Ford must have a fetish for wacky brand names, since later we got a walk-on appearance from the Schmilford vacuum cleaner.

Crowe claims to be retired, but that appears to be true only when she hasn’t been offered a crime to solve. It merely took a quick coffee with her former boss, DI Kieran Hussey (Bernard Curry), to get her interested in the case of a woman who had fallen from the 19th floor apartment of a male escort called Dylan Giroux. Did she fall, or was she pushed? Have a guess.

Gritty realism is emphatically not the objective here, as the show aims to mix a little leisurely sleuthing with ironic glances at issues and obsessions of contemporary life (though it’s set in Australia, it could be transplanted to almost anywhere). Thus, the Giroux case afforded space for some reflections on Crowe’s life as a single woman in middle age (“Paying for sex doesn’t make you lonely, it makes you practical,” she asserted), and there was some mild satire of “wokeness” when Crowe enlisted her researcher Madison (Ebony Vagulans) so they could pose as a lesbian couple pretending to be flat-hunting in the suspect’s building. “That’s sexuality appropriation!” Madison objected. “It’s workplace harassment!”

You wouldn’t recommend Crowe’s investigative technique to aspiring young police officers – she doesn’t bother with back-up, and here cut to the chase by simply booking an appointment for Giroux’s smarmy professional services.

Cramming a complete case into a 43-minute show (when you take the ads out) required a few short cuts. For instance, Madison can find out anything about anybody within seconds using just a phone and a laptop, like a one-woman fusion of Google and the FBI. It’s enjoyable, but feels a little lightweight.