Durham County: Season 2

Durham County: Season 2
After the first season of Durham County attempted to recreate the off-kilter intrigue of Twin Peaks, with its small town murder of two teenaged girls, and then resolved the mystery, putting the serial killer behind bars within six episodes, there weren't many places left for the series to go. As described in the "Behind the Scenes" supplement included with this two-DVD set, the writers saw this second season as an opportunity to explore female rage, given that the first season was about outward male aggression and anger. Hence the introduction of Pen Varrity (Michelle Forbes), a psychiatrist brought in to help with a police infanticide investigation ― an extreme unlikelihood, given that the woman had just lost her daughter a year earlier. Of course, thematically it offers some convenience, seeing that Detective Mike Sweeney (Hugh Dillon) still isn't sure if his childhood buddy raped his daughter Sadie (Laurence Leboeuf). Their working relationship quickly turns romantic, seeing that Mike is going through a separation, which is shady enough, without Pen's tendency to cut herself and manipulate everyone she encounters. While Forbes's character (an exaggerated, psycho, serial monogamist) brings some much-needed vitality to a show that never really worked, this season never lives up to its potential. Part of this is due to the rushed handling of the conflicts and development in a scant six episodes, and another factor is a creative lack of understanding how to effectively build tension or exercise subtlety. Since the writing lacks variation amongst characters, a sense of humour and originality, we're left with capable actors carrying a very familiar narrative about female repression and male righteousness. It's quite unfortunate, since the building blocks are there to expand on character dysfunction and coping, especially given the implicit structural tactic of revealing subtext through dreamlike images of spider-walking children and conversations with the dead. There's just no thinking outside the box, or hesitation in revealing, leaving only a professionally made, moderately engaging series that could, and should, be so much more. (Anchor Bay)