If the concept of murder in a small town detective show isn't already a considered a genre it should be. Bellevue, the latest show to air on the WGN Network (which I guess hasn't totally abandoned original programming) stars Anna Paquin as Annie Ryder, a very emotionally unbalanced detective in the rural town of Bellevue. I say this because right from the beginning of the Pilot, she is willing to seduce a suspect at a bar and take him back to a hotel room where she partakes in cocaine and ends up half naked just to get the lead she needs. The idea of a cop who goes to extremes is nothing new but I'm more addressing the disturbing misery in her face when she leaves even after the bust was a success.
Ryder has a young daughter named Daisy (Madison Ferguson) at home and their relationship seems like a version of Gilmore Girls just without the coffee and the ridiculously cheery townsfolk. The father is a guy named Eddie Rowe (Allen Leech) who is an unemployed miner and shares a history with Annie that goes way back to when they were in high school. Even though they are no longer together they seem to still be on good terms and in one moment when Eddie comes over you can still see the affection they have for each other.
When the local hockey star named Jesse Sweetland (Sadie O' Neil) goes missing Ryder learns that he was dealing with his "gender identity" and that causes even more of a buzz about the town. Some think he just ran away but after they discover that blood left on the scene tests positive for Jesse's DNA the situation seems much direr.
Paquin is every bit believable in the role as a detective by going with a natural fresh face and no-nonsense attitude. She has that edge to her that is needed so that we are shown that this isn't someone who takes their job lightly and is cracking jokes while stopping by the coffee shop. The problem for Annie is that she is randomly given a note by a suspect which contains a riddle that opens up her emotional floodgates to a childhood trauma. When she was a young girl her father died and she communicated with a stranger through riddles he left her in the forest claiming to be her deceased dad. Her father was also a policeman and worked with Bellevue's current chief Peter Wellman (Shawn Doyle) who has known Annie since the awful trick. This creates a distraction in Annie's mind that will come to affect her judgment in handling the case.
Originally made in Canada and airing on CBC Television in 2017, Bellevue paints its scenery with a thick brush of grey paint and the mood it emits is of gloom and melancholy. The mine that was the source of the town's income has closed down and the only hope many of the unemployed residents have is a distillery that the mayor has planned to be built. While Bellevue itself might not seem to have much, there is a collection of supporting characters that Annie talks to that have the potential for us to play a guessing game of who the perpetrator is of abducting Jesse is. Unfortunately, even with a variety of townsfolk, officers, and other misfits, I couldn't find one supporting character that held my interest once they left their scene. Paquin is the lead (and an executive producer) and she seems like the only person who has any sparks going off in her brain. The rest of her co-workers just nod at every idea or suggestion she comes up with to solve the case and particularly one named Virginia (Sharon Taylor) who Annie says she has the "people skills of a cardboard box'' and rightfully so!
In the end, the pilot episode was enjoyable with its attempt to keep the show very dark and somber. It has the feeling like they might be trying to go the vulgar direction of True Detective but I hope they just stick to some compelling storytelling like another abduction show The Killing. Did this feel like just another mystery show to you? Is Anna Paquin enough to carry this WGN show for the whole run?