Two TV series from Down Under premiere in the US in April, while three have their local broadcast debuts.
For updates about shows from Australia and New Zealand added to US channels and streaming services throughout the month, see the Down Under TV Viewing Guide.
The Letdown (Australia)
This half-hour comedy series stars Alison Bell (Laid, I Rock) as Audrey, a young woman having a dickens of a time adjusting to motherhood. If sleepless nights and breastfeeding struggles weren’t enough, her situation is made worse by the lack of support from her career-focused husband, self-obsessed mother, and seemingly uncaring best friend.
What’s a new mum to do? Attend a parents group full of other new mums, of course.
The series features Noni Hazlehurst (A Place to Call Home), Duncan Fellows (Life Support), Sacha Horler (Sando), Leon Ford (Gallipoli), Lucy Durack (The Heart Guy), Celeste Barber (All Saints), Leah Vandenberg (Jar Dwellers SOS), and Xana Tang (Filthy Rich).
LOCAL PREMIERES — FIRST-RUN
The Doctor Blake Mysteries: Season 5 (Australia)
Brand-spanking new to the States is the fifth season of this popular Australian mystery series starring multiple-award winner Craig McLachlan (Home and Away, Neighbour, Deep Water) as former British Army medic Doctor Lucien Blake, now the local GP and police surgeon in Ballarat.
As with Seasons 1-4, Blake investigates murders and suspicious deaths in eight dark, intricate, and taut episodes. Victims include a boxer, a Romani woman, a French chef, a controversial novelist, a retired carpenter, a teen-aged girl, a local farmer, and a young policeman.
But the drama isn’t all about who did the killing and why. The relationship between Lucien and receptionist Jean Beazley (Nadine Garner, City Homicide, Blue Water High) has had its ups and downs (especially in Season 4!), and in Season 5 they (finally) look toward the future together. However, as loyalties are tested, friendships are strained, and faith is challenged (is it ever), Blake and Beazley may or may not find the happiness they deserve as a couple.
The cast in Season 5 includes Charlie Cousins (City Homicide), Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead), Belinda McClory (Corridors of Power), John Wood (Blue Heelers), David Whiteley (Gallipoli), Timothy Quabba (Beyond), Anna McGahan (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Ian Rooney (Jack Irish), Craig Hall (A Place to Call Home), Lee Beckhurst (Offspring), Nick Farnell (Killing Time), and Gary Sweet (House Husbands).
The Doctor Blake Mysteries: Season 5 begins airing in the US on select public TV stations starting in April. Broadcast dates and times vary by market, so check your local listings or contact the station that serves your area for details.
LOCAL PREMIERES — BROADCAST DEBUTS
The series below have their post-streaming broadcast debuts on various public TV stations across the US on or after April 1. Broadcast dates and times vary by market, so check your local listings or contact the station that serves your area for details.
The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 4 (New Zealand)
This binge-worthy mystery series returns us to the small (fictional) New Zealand town of Brokenwood, where the country music-loving, many-times-married, and transplanted Aucklander DSS Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea, Go Girls) investigates suspicious deaths and outright murders with his team.
They include the methodical, country music-hating, and bad-coffee-making Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland, The Almighty Johnsons), the always-put-upon Detective Constable Sam Breen (Nic Sampson, Step Dave), and the eccentric Russian medical examiner Dr. Gina Kadinsky (Cristina Serban Ionda, Filthy Rich).
Similar to British series Midsomer Murders, the methods of murder in The Brokenwood Mysteries can be rather creative, such as the deaths by skydiving, arrow, poison, and Samurai sword in Series 4.
And while Gina does more of her own brand of flirting with Mike, it looks like there’s a bit of sizzle heating up Kristin’s life in the form of self-employed plumber Kahu (Rawiri Jobe, Tatau). (I hope this storyline continues in the upcoming Season 5!)
Reprising their roles in Series 4 are Colin Moy (Underbelly: Land of the Long Green Cloud), Elizabeth McRae (Shortland Street), Shane Cortese (Nothing Trivial), Jason Hoyte (Outrageous Fortune), Karl Willetts (Being Eve), Phil Peleton (American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story), and Ascia Maybury (800 Words).
The Heart Guy: Series 1 (Australia)
Rodger Corser (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Glitch, Rush) stars in this drama as Dr. Hugh Knight, a talented, bad boy of a heart surgeon in Sydney who is forced to work as a GP in the small, rural town of Whyhope for a year as professional punishment for his partying ways.
The salt in the wound is that Whyhope is Hugh’s hometown — where his estranged parents, brother, and ex-girlfriend still live. And it is here that he must learn to dispense medical treatment outback style at the under-resourced Whyhope Hospital. Goodbye scalpels and listening to “Heart of Glass” in the operating room; hello anti-venom and working with quirky locals and an ex-pat from Ireland to tend to oddball patients at the hospital, on a farm, or in a paddock full of explosive booby traps.
Not so much quirky as humorless is Penny, a champion of rural medicine, Hugh’s new boss, and the person who holds what remains of his career in her hands. Only Penny, the members of the Medical Tribunal, and Hugh know the real reason he’s back in Whyhope. Everyone else thinks he’s on a sabbatical and working at the cottage hospital to give back to the community.
More of Hugh’s lies follow. But there is truth, too, such as the cancer that is killing one of Hugh’s old friends, and that, try as he might, Hugh cannot save everyone’s lives.
Costarring in The Heart Guy: Series 1 as Hugh’s family members are Nicole da Silva (Wentworth) as his ex-gf and now-sister-in-law Charlie, Ryan Johnson (Out of the Blue) as his jealous brother Matt, Tina Bursill (Home and Away) as Knight family matriarch Meryl, Steve Bisley (Water Rats) as patriarch Jim, Matt Castley (Blind) as the elder Knights’ adopted son Ajax, and Chloe Bayliss (Reef Doctors) as Ajax’s girlfriend Hayley.
Playing the Whyhope Hospital staff are Hayley McElhinney (The Babadook) as Penny, Belinda Bromilow (Packed to the Rafters) as receptionist Betty, Shalom Brune-Franklin (Thor: Ragnarok) as nurse Aoife, and Charles Wu (Secret City) as hospital administrator Ken.
Newton’s Law (Australia)
Created by the team behind Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, this “upstairs downstairs” legal drama series stars Claudia Karvan (Jack Irish, Love My Way, The Secret Life of Us) as Josephine Newton, a solicitor with a suburban law practice, a teen-aged daughter, and a mostly-absent husband from whom she is separated.
Following the torching of her office by a pyromaniac client, Josephine fills a recent opening at the high-powered Knox Chambers, where her former classmate and not-so-secret admirer Lewis Hughes (Toby Schmitz, Crownies, Black Sails) works. Her now-former staff, though, don’t have the same kinds of connections and end up leaving the legal profession.
As it turns out, that opening is due to one of the Knox Chambers barristers falling 15 stories to his death, presumably the victim of a murder. Josephine gets the seemingly no-win case, but something she uncovers sheds new light on it.
She also has a light bulb moment that gets her team from Newton’s Law — including solicitor Helena Chatterjee (Georgina Naidu, Mr. & Mrs. Murder, At Home with Julia) and guy Friday (and petty criminal) Johnny Allbright (Sean Keenan, Glitch, Dance Academy) — back into law: Josephine helps them set up their own law office in the basement level garage of the building where she works upstairs.
Subsequent episodes find Newton engaged in cases concerning gender dysphoria, kidnapping, and murder, while Helena, with help from Johnny and investigator Skye Stewart (Miranda Tapsell, The Sapphires, Love Child), works to defend Josephine’s daughter and Skye’s father.
Costars include Andrew McFarlane (The Code, Glitch) as Eric Whitley, the head of Knox Chambers; Jane Hall (Neighbours, All Together Now) as Jackie Russo, Eric’s PA and the Chambers’ manager; Ella Newton (Harrow) as Lydia Newton-Docker, Josephine’s daughter; and Brett Tucker (The Americans) as Callum Docker, Josephine’s husband.
Did you miss any of the new shows from previous months? Check the Down Under TV Viewing Guide to find out.
For details about the April premieres of shows from the UK, Canada, and Ireland, visit The British TV Place. For those about the debuts of original-language, English-subtitled programs from Europe, visit The Euro TV Place.
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