Canadian mystery show Cardinal premiered on CTV back in January, but before its U.S. premiere on Hulu earlier this month, it had a screening at the Austin TV Festival, and that was a GREAT idea. Because it was the perfect way to get the word out to the audience for this kind of quiet, slow murder show - like me. I wasn't at the event, but before it had even concluded multiple people had sent me messages saying that I would LOVE THIS SHOW.
And I did! As everyone had promised, it had lots of murder and lots of snow, which are two of my favorite things. More specifically: it's about police detective John Cardinal, pulled back into a case when a body is found that turns out to be that of a girl whose disappearance he previously investigated (but didn't solve, obviously), and his new partner Lise Delorme, who is secretly investigating him while they're both investigating what turns out to be a string of murders. The plot is satisfyingly twisty but not too labored; everything comes together nicely and the crimes are very creepy.
One of my favorite things about this show was that, while both lead detectives were a bit troubled and had stuff going on their personal lives, both Cardinal and Delorme were pretty grounded, pragmatic detectives who acted professionally. In a lot of mystery shows, a practical lady detective has to deal with a male partner who's a charismatic maverick rulebreaker, and much as I love some of these shows individually (Broadchurch is back tonight! yay!), I'm getting very sick of that trope. So I really enjoyed the way Cardinal and Delorme were both flawed and a bit messy but things weren't set up so the boring serious one had to clean up after the flashy one.
Cardinal is also just a joy to watch because it's well-made: the writing and acting are solid and the show is gorgeously shot. The snowy landscapes are starkly beautiful without being romanticized, and episode five has a particularly memorable well-executed tracking shot. The world of the show feels very real and textured. Also, as I said: Lots of snow. Perfect to binge on a hot summer weekend. All six hours of season one of Cardinal are now streaming on Hulu, and a new season is on the way.
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