Streaming platform Acorn TV is launching a new darkly comic period mystery series this spring with a truly unique concept: It's centered around the idea of Victorian-era memorial portraiture. But also there's murder.
Entitled Dead Still, the six-part series already like a breath of fresh air in the landscape of British procedural mysteries we see so often. Sure, there will presumably be plenty of murders to solve, but the intriguing setting and premise make the series stand out. Set in in Ireland in the 1880s, our story takes place during the peak of the “postmortem photography” craze. This process, in which people commissioned photos of their dead relations to commemorate their lives, generally featured disturbingly elegant posed photos of the recently deceased, sometimes also involving their living family members.
The series will follow a renowed memorial photographer as he investigates the murders of his recently deceased subjects.
(Now, I have several questions - the biggest one being how in the world he makes money off this if he's just ending up photographing murder victims, but here's hoping the show plans to explain that early on.)
Dead Still, an Acorn TV Original series, is coming this spring. Set in Victorian Ireland, Dead Still follows a renowned ‘memorial photographer’ as he investigates the murders of his recently deceased subjects. #TCA20 pic.twitter.com/JCJdPzKVx1— Acorn TV (@AcornTV) January 16, 2020
Michael Smiley (Luther) stars as famous photographer Brock Blennerhasset, alongside Eileen O'Higgins (My Mother and Other Strangers) as his (apparently quite feisty) niece Nancy Vickers and Kerr Logan (Victoria) as his assistant Conall Malloy.
The official synopsis helps answer some questions about how photographing dead people turns into investigating murders. And, naturally, it involves a serial killer with a taste for snuff imagery. Despite the somewhat jokey tone of the trailer above, it's clear that Dead Still is going to be a very dark story.
Dublin, 1880. The practice of memorial portraiture is at the height of its popularity – that is, the portrait photography of the recently deceased. As renowned memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset expands his business with the help of his would-be actress niece Nancy Vickers and assistant Conall Molloy, someone with more sinister designs is getting in on the death photography game.
A serial killer is cashing in on the sordid, developing taste for ‘snuff’ imagery - pictures of people in their death throes. The murders escalate and Detective Frederick Regan of the Dublin Metropolitan Police suspects that Ireland may have its first serial murderer at large. As Blennerhasset becomes a possible suspect and his family is put in harm’s way, they must track down the serial killer before he strikes again.
But that's sort of exciting, isn't it? We certainly can't say that we've seen something like this before. (At least, I can't.)
Dead Still doesn't have an official premiere date as yet, but accoring to Acorn TV's recent presentation at the biannual Television Critics Association press tour, we can expect to see it on the streaming service at somepoint in the Spring of 2020.
Does it sound like the sort of series you'd watch? Let's discuss in the comments.