Plot: Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) was quite a fish out of water when he first arrived in Brokenwood, but now he has started to settle into his new lifestyle. Brokenwood has charmed him to an extent, lulling him with the slower pace and relaxed environment, but of course, it is also home to a wide assortment of crimes to investigate. His assistant Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland) has also settled into her new partnership with Shepherd, better able to tolerate his quirks and appreciate his strengths. She still doesn’t love his music, but she can cope better than she used to. The stronger bond between the two is good news, since Brokenwood will need their full attention on a new slate of cases, some more twisted than others. These new cases will test both investigators and especially Shepherd, who has to look into the death of his favorite musician.
Entertainment Value: As with the first series, The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 2 houses four feature length episodes, so each one has ample depth. With a lot of the introductions and rough edges smoothed, the series puts more focus on the cases and so we have more detail and depth there. The main characters still have the floor of course, but now we know them, so we don’t need quite as much exposition on their end. While the cases are mostly self contained, we do have some nice call backs from the first series. This includes some loose ends on prominent moments from the first series, as well as more minor drops in from some familiar faces from earlier episodes. A nice touch, as it doesn’t mandate seeing every episode, but it does give a little bonus to those who have and that is a great approach.
Rea and Sutherland continue to work well together and Gina Kadinsky has some scene stealing moments as the colorful coroner. The leads are given some good chances to shine and I appreciate the continued development of their characters, even as focus is on the assorted cases. This kind of show needs that on going element to keep viewers reeled in, while the chemistry between the leads is also crucial. The variety within the cases is quite good too, as we have a very personal story, some that focus on mystery and tension, and one that plays out like a more traditional “hunt down the killer” narrative. A terrific second series and one that builds on the previous set of episodes very well. If you enjoyed The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 1 or want to explore a new detective show, give this series a chance.