The BBC TV program Mayo, now showing on BBC America as The Gil Mayo Mysteries, is an exemnplary TV mystery program. Based on a series of novels which I have not read, the show has engaging detectives and a little romance, and is light on blood and gore and explicit violence but strong on creating plausible suspects with interesting and revealing motives.
It also has a nice central mystery: whether police homicide detective team leader DI Gil Mayo, an amusingly literate and in fact pedantic character played well by Alistair McGowan, will get back together romantically with his new subordinate, DS Alex Jones (Jessica Oyelowo), an appealingly good-natured, comely, and stylish detective who was Mayo’s first love many years before.
The four-member detective team engages in the sort of comical, character-based byplay that makes NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigation Service so enjoyable, and their characterizations are kept appropriately light, without the kind of miasmic delving into the detectives’ past that mars so many TV and book mystery series.
Given the lightness of tone and straightforward narrative drive, American audiences should find that the program crosses the pond very well. It’s definitely not pretentious Masterpiece Theater stuff.
A recent episode set in a working-class neighborhood and taking place in part in a beauty shop should remind Americans of many places in our larger cities, and the salon milieu is highly reminiscent of similar working-class East Coast locales we’ve seen both in real life and in U.S. TV programs. The episode also includes some highly comic scenes in which DS Jones gets a makeover in the frilly ’80s floozy style popular among the neighborhood’s denizens. It’s a very effective bit of social comedy and fully understandable for U.S. audiences.
BBC America shows two episodes each Friday night beginning at 8 EDT.