The Mysteries of Laura: Season Two Finale – Tissues Required (Review)

Tissues are required for the season finale of The Mysteries of Laura, but not necessarily just for the death of Santiani, or even for the brilliant role-reversal ending.

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

Tissues are required for the season finale of The Mysteries of Laura, but not necessarily just for the death of Santiani, or even for the brilliant role-reversal ending.  (Although both of these do require copious amounts of tissues.) One should really shed a tear for the short shrift given the death of a regular character who became such a presence on the second season.

Callie Thorne‘s prickly, annoying and captain, who was in many ways a “mini-me” to Laura Diamond but in charge of the entire precinct had just become more than likable when she and Laura became friends in the pervious episodes.

Santiani offered to have Jake reassigned when things became difficult between her top detective and Broderick in an earlier episode.  The captain also, even while disciplining Diamond, backed Laura after her sister’s boyfriend was killed. A lot of ink was spilt making Thorne’s character not only more acceptable but more human.

Obviously this buildup was done to intensify the feelings of shock and upset when the tiny police captain was murdered.  While this is understandable and a sign of good writing it is disappointing that in the followup to Santiani’s death by sniper bullet, the fallen cop is pushed to the background.

In The Mystery of the End of Watch Nancy Santiani’s death is “glossed over” as the threat is moved initially to Laura, as the intended target and then to Nancy’s son Justin when the boy is kidnapped by his father.   The plot then allows a former abusive partner to make amends to his murdered wife. A woman whose death was almost directly caused by him.

There was  chance to see Louis Ozawa Changchien for a quick moment, or two, return as Jimmy Chun and Debby Ryan, as younger half-sister Lucy Diamond as  carry-overs from last week’s episode.  Both characters, Chun and Lucy, provide plot directions, were the former reveals that the “hit” was not on Diamond but Santiani and the latter prompts her big sister to seize the moment “by the balls.”

The entire episode serves as a wakeup call of sorts for Laura (Messing), Jake (Lucas) and his new girlfriend Jen (Jenna Fischer). Apart from this triangle of awareness the call also reaches Meredith and Billy.

Obviously the message here is that death can come at anytime to anyone. As Laura herself says, in essence,  after Santiani’s demise “life is fleeting.”  As was the amount of time spent on Nancy Santiani’s death.   Granted, Diamond and Santiani were not “bestie’s” by any stretch of the imagination but, damnit, the two strong women bonded like hell in the previous episode.

One of their bonding moments helps Laura to track down Justin.  To be fair, there are “moments” where we have glimpses of Santiani. The Cape Canaveral tickets were a lump inducing reminder that we never know or realize that we do not have a lot of time in this life.

Another moment is when Diamond quotes Santiani:

“A wise woman we all worked for once told me to hope for the best but plan for the worst.”

After catching the two men responsible for killing Nancy, the season finale then does the “end of watch” scene.

“Central to Captain Nancy Santiani. We thank you, Captain, for your leadership, your compassion, your generosity of spirit in serving the people of New York and this country. Central to the 359. Central to Captain Nancy Santiani. Central to Captain Nancy Santiani. Captain Nancy Santiani is end of watch.”

This may not be the way that the police say goodbye to one of their own, but only the hardest of hearts would not be moved by the announcement, (in fact this writer is tearing up just writing this) and while this feels a little contrived…

It works.

This part of The Mysteries of Laura is so emotional that it makes perfect sense that Billy Soto breaks “every rule of the bro code” to tell Laura about Jake proposing to Jen.

The end of the finale sees Laura rushing to stop Jake and to tell him that she still loves him. A splendid role reversal where the woman (Diamond) strides into the room and declares they still have a future together.  After a romantic kiss and floods of schmaltzy tears (from the audience)Jen shows up and asks if everything is okay; flashing the ring.

Laura is too late.

Great ending to the second season. But…

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2
Captain Nancy Santiani

It is a shame that Nancy Santiani aka “Santini” had to die and then become an “also ran” plot point to move the story along.  Sure the “Central to Captain Nancy Santiani” was heart breaking but Callie Thorne’s character deserved so much more…

Perhaps that was the point.

 

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unknown Caller (Recap/Review)

In The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unknown Caller, Robert Klein returns as Poppa Diamond, aka Leo and Laura’s half-sister Lucy (Debby Ryan) appears as the “bad seed” of the family whose boyfriend is shot and killed in the opening moments of the episode.

 The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

In The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unknown Caller, Robert Klein returns as Poppa Diamond, aka Leo and Laura’s half-sister Lucy (Debby Ryan) appears as the “bad seed” of the family whose boyfriend is shot and killed in the opening moments of the episode.  Before this segment ends, there are two deaths to be counted before credits roll, one of whom is, apparently, Captain Santiani (Callie Thorne).

The episode starts with a man calling Laura and getting her answer machine. He is fleeing something, or someone, and he tells the detective that “they” are in danger. Two bullets end the call just after he breaks into a shop. Later, Diamond listens to the “voice message” and the man sounds familiar but she cannot place him.

Technical whiz Meredith (Janina Gavankar) pulls background noises from the call, laying them on separate tracks and the two cops manage to pinpoint the location of the unknown man’s phone call.  They arrive to find the victim, dead on the floor, and Laura recognizes the corpse but cannot place a name to the dead man’s  face.

She and Meredith search the body and find a hotel receipt. The two detectives leave the crime scene, which is in  the 82nd Precinct’s jurisdiction and not the 2nd’s, placing a traffic agent (meter maid) in charge of the scene till the proper police arrive.

*Cue cool “The Mysteries of Laura” intro theme music.*

The two cops reach the hotel room and find it trashed. Laura discovers a Photo Booth strip with her sister on it the strip as well as the dead man.   Bose and Diamond head back to the crime scene and meet Detective Harris (Tate Donovan) who is not pleased that the two detectives from the 2nd precinct left a meter maid in charge of the scene. 

In this episode, the errant younger half-sister is in trouble, Laura is banished to desk duty, Jake is suspicious and Diamond goes to visit her dad to track down her sibling. Diamond then finds  Lucy and takes her in, after chasing her down in a shopping mall.

The Mystery of the Unknown Caller has murder, black market pharmaceuticals, and a closer look at Laura’s family. Along the way, sis gets a “get out of jail free” card when it is revealed that Diamond forgot to read Lucy her miranda rights before popping her in a jail cell. Diamond uses information obtained by Jake and Det. Harris about the dodgy drugs and sets up a sting operation for Jimmy Chung.

Santiani and Diamond bond. The two women work together and back each other up, while  the precinct captain uses her “find a friend” application to keep track of Laura during the sting.

After a suspenseful moment or two, the sting goes down and the kingpin, Jimmy Chung (Louis Ozawa Changchienwho murdered Lucy’s boyfriend, threatens to kill Laura as he is led off in cuffs. Later, the two sisters attempt a reconciliation (complete with “pinky swears”) and shortly after Santiani holds a press conference to honor the two detectives from different precincts who caught the bad  guy.

Jake, Bose, Max and Soto are all watching the press conference from a bar (drinking a shot each time Laura rolls her eyes) and as Santiani introduces Diamond a bullet crashes through glass hitting a “female cop.”

Broderick  rushes to 1 Police Plaza to find Laura is fine, but Santiani is “gone.”

This was a surprising episode.  An unknown half-sister turns up and despite the pinky swear cuteness, Lucy does not seem like the best house guest to have around. The amount of remorse that the younger sibling expresses for the death  of her boyfriend equates to zero. (This is perhaps the most irritating/annoying part of the entire episode.)

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unknown Caller takes out “Santini” who was just warming up to her best detective. This was a shocking development and losing Callie Thorne, who totally rocked it as Santiani throughout the second season,  is upsetting.

Although, this tragic episode looks to be the first of a  two-parter, with a “concluding” episode airing next week, despite Messing’s character telling Jake that Santiani is “gone” perhaps there is still hope she survived. The next episode titled The Mystery of the End of Watch doubles as the season two finale so tune in on March 2, to see how this all ends.

 

The Mysteries of Laura: Episode 207 (Review)

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

Apart from being entertaining, The Mysteries of Laura, episode 207, aka The Mystery of the Maternal Instinct, was also another tightly written and well performed mystery tale. Season two continues to amaze and puzzle.  Fans of Agatha Christie/Ruth Rendell type stories will become addicted to this Debra Messing vehicle.  While her Laura Diamond is no Miss Marple (for that matter her former husband Jake Broderick (Josh Lucas) is no bumbling local bobby on the beat either) the cop is one smart cookie, surrounded by equally intelligent coworkers.

Even the new Captain, “Santini” (Callie Thorne) manages to make valid points in this week’s mystery murder.  

A young woman is found dead in the street. As the police investigate it is learned that the victim is pregnant and that the baby in her womb still alive.  As the police investigate, beginning with the idea that the deceased was a hooker (based on the location of her death),  the clues do not add up.

Step two is learning that this Nigerian mother-to-be was a mule for a crime syndicate that specializes in moving uncut gemstones illegally. Armchair detectives will have their work cut out for them if they attempt to solve DJ’s murder.  There are plenty of clues on offer and many lead to dead ends. Many more lead to false conclusions.

At one point in the show it seems that the Nigerian syndicate is smuggling babies, which it  is not, and then it transpires that the phrase killing two birds with one stone may apply in the mother’s death and the reason for it. Maternity tourists, which are, amazingly, a real thing, are the baseline of the plot device here, but is combined with Nigerian bad guys using females as mules for their uncut stones.

This topical storyline, mentioning the “offensive” Jeb Bush term “Anchor babies,” proves that this series tries to be culturally aware of what is significant at the time of broadcast.  Another “relevant” portion of the story line  is the mention of “Ghost Apartments.” These are not flats or apartments occupied by denizens of the “other side” but empty homes purchased by the uber rich as investments.

The Mysteries of Laura is an entertaining “cop show” with an interesting, and amusing, cast who all have great chemistry with their costars.  The series really is a mix of “crim-com” and procedural cop shows where evidence is used alongside “hunches” by the main protagonist.

Max Carnegie (Max Jenkins) is a member of the team who uses his technical expertise to help his colleagues and he even steps in to antagonize Captain Santiani when Detective Diamond is out of pocket.  While the entire team work to find out who killed the pregnant mother, Jake and Laura continue their hesitant waltz of forgiveness and possibly getting back together. 

After the case is solved, Jake has dinner with his ex and their twins.  As part of a bet (Challenge?) made earlier in the season, Broderick does contact another doctor about his heart condition and now Laura is obligated to go on a date with him.

The Mysteries of Laura is topnotch entertainment and airs Wednesdays on NBC. Tune in enjoy the performances of the entire cast and see how hard it is to actually crack the cases.

Mysteries of Laura – To Binge or Not to Binge

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

Mysteries of Laura showed up via the auspices of a press release stating that the new season was starting. Having missed the premiere episode, the Debra Messing show was moved to a back burner till now.  After the initial question of whether to binge the entire first season to catch up on what was happening in the second season was broached and then ignored, the first three episodes of the series’ return to TV screens were viewed.

The verdict?

Excellent television with tight writing,  interesting characters, a good dose of humor (in all the right places) and mysteries that were…mysterious. Each episode needed solving, despite an “almost” armchair viewer discovery in episode one  The Mystery of the Taken BoyThis non-NYPD viewer guessed the kid’s sister had a part in the kidnapping, but, the girl was not a viable suspect, she just inadvertently provided the “in.”

Watching the entire first season of this series is not a requirement unless, after seeing the first three episodes, the new fan wants to go back to the beginning. The show is a revamping of a Spanish television series Los misterios de Laura which had a rocky history on a State owned channel before being re-imagined for a “gringo” audience.

Debra Messing stars as Laura Diamond, the ex-wife of  Jake Broderick (Josh Lucas), mother of twins and NYPD detective.  The cast of “Laura” is rounded out with Laz AlonsoJanina GavankarMax Jenkins as Billy Soto, Meredith Bose, and Max Carnegie respectively as well as Callie Thorne as the boss everyone despises Captain Santiani (or Santini as Laura continually calls her).

With a thumping “Miami Vice” type musical theme and some great Big Apple second unit shots for the opening credits (as well as throughout the episodes) Mysteries of Laura is a catchy program.  Not just because of the presence of Messing either. The Will and Grace star has proven that she can still do comedy plus she also has  some impressive “dramatic chops” that so many would kill for. However, this mystery of the week series has a more than capable cast who work brilliantly with the show’s star.

As the title suggests, each episode deals with a  mystery. Episode one was the mystery of a kidnapped boy (who was illegally adopted), two was a lonely woman who scammed friends with fake cancer (who was murdered) and three was the “locked room” death of a billionaire techno wunderkind.

In the latest episode, The Mystery of the Locked Box, the murder weapon was pretty well thought out by the show’s creator, (look away now if you have not watched this episode yet) a “murder drone” outfitted with razor sharp blades. Pretty ingenious.

The storylines are good; quite inventive and interesting. The interactions between the characters are humorous, and just as interesting as the storylines. Each person in the police bull pen feel like they have worked together, if not for years, at least long enough to have good cohesion.

Ms. Messing rocks it in the role (Sidenote, in watching episode 203, did anyone else notice what looked like a very poorly disguised bulge? Apparently it was rumored that Debra  Messing had a baby bump but now there appears to be some doubt as to her actually being pregnant. Watch episode three of season two…Baby bump.)  as the “mom” oriented detective who follows some impressive hunches.

Fans of mystery shows, which this is, will love this series. The setting may be the NYPD but the construction of the show is mystery, a’ la Agatha Christie.  Mysteries of Laura is procedural, to be sure, but this is not the focus of the show. That would be the dynamics of the players and the lead character’s ability to ferret out the clues that lead her and the police department  to the truth.

Secondary to the show’s main storyline is her juggling of home life and the show deals with this  aspect with humor. Speaking of humor, check out the “convenience” store scene with Messing and Lucas. This award winning actress easily combines subtle comedy with drama to give us a “mommy detective” with attitude. A real winning combination.

Mysteries of Laura airs Wednesdays on NBC. Catch this one for smooth television that delivers a huge dose of entertainment. Binging is not required, unless  you want to as this show is written well enough the viewer can pick things up fairly easily.