Four clever school kids start their own detective agency and vlog about their adventures, becoming fast friends in the process.
07 Feb The InBESTigators (2019)
Dear reader, you may never encounter this, an Australian series designed for tweens and their parents. 40 episodes.
The setup is four 10-11 year olds set up an ‘agency’ to solve mysteries that as it happens are small by cinematic standards but loom largish in a child’s life. What happened to the birthday cake? Who took the science project?
There’s significant craft here: in the arc of the mysteries, in the design of the characters, and how those interact.
The arc is simple: something happens and the kids are called in. They doggedly work things out, so at root, this is a kid procedural. One child is our key detective and it is her that makes the Poirot-like denouement at the end (where we see the true events on screen). In every case that is a true crime the perpetrator is a child who has some excuse (from the child’s perspective) and is forgiven. Adults play a minor role, either as constraints or the source of facts. As the discovery unrolls, we have a jaunty guitar lick — was that invented by Seinfeld?
The characters are four, and to my mind specifically Australian. No fat boy comic relief. Ezra is the organiser. Maudie the girl genius who usually solves the case. The other two are placed so that we can locate our childhood selves somewhere in the middle. Ava (with the indicative surname Andrikides) is the energy, the creator and social creature. Ezra is a ‘sportie’, a genuinely likeable doof who everyone loves but never seems to know what is going on. He’s the comic relief. Unfortunately, he’s dangerously close to a stereotype. In Australia, our dark skinned folks are from all over the Indo-Pacific, but we also have original people we call ‘blacks’.
The stereotypes are completely divorced from what Americans will know: the lazy, shuffling, or jungle danger types. But there is a common thread of charming unsophistication. The more you like Ezra, the worse you feel inside. But he does have the best jokes — and I think on the whole seeing my boys laugh builds bonds. The actor’s name is Jamil Smyth-Secka, wonderful international allusion and typical for modern Australia.
Posted in 2024
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.