Dead Still

Dead Still Episode 1 and 2-Photochemistry and Development Review and Recap

Dead Still Episode 1 and 2, which is available now, is precisely what we all need today even if we didn’t know it.

The aptly named Dead Still is a stunning period piece with the sensibilities of a modern show. Plenty of humor mixed in with the macabre makes for the perfect distraction from the world. Dead Still Episode 1 and 2 are excellent examples of how to introduce a world and characters succinctly without feeling hollow or rushed.

Brock Blennerhasset is a memorial photographer. He takes pictures of the recently deceased. The opening sequence tells you everything you need to know about the series. It is centrally focused on the absurdity of Victorian death practices, and Micheal Smiley’s Blennerhasset is a hilariously fussy, unflappable man. The current family he is photographing is loathsome and tedious. In the chaos of the photo, Blennerhasset had a large chest dropped on his foot, resulting in a signature limp the remainder of the season and the loss of an undeveloped case.

It is only after returning home full limp intact that he realizes his niece Nancy Vickers has returned to her uncle’s house after many years intent on moving in. Eileen O’Higgins(Vickers) is a wonderfully determined young woman with just the right amount of daffy ignorance to make her funny.

Later at the funeral, Blennerhasset attempts to question the family on his lost equipment casually but is comically derailed by one hopeless relative after another. Enter grave digger Connal Molloy(Kerr Logan), who has aspirations of becoming a photographer like Blennerhasset. Their adorable meeting eventually turns into a working relationship. Molloy must earn his position by hunting down the lost case before the family finds out their photo is missing.

The young woman Blennerhasset was photographing was married to an ex-con named Mr. Ross, who stole the case because the family cut him out of the funeral services. They did not approve of their love, and he felt like he had no choice but to steal the case. Allowing both Nancy and Connal to solidify their respective roles, Mr. Ross broke into Blennerhasset’s house and tied up Nancy. Once there, Connal arrives and manages to talk his way out of being tied up, and the trio agrees to some light internment of Mary. The plan is to dig her up and take a new picture with Mr. Ross. Being a recent grave digger, Logan’s Kerr can showcase both his physicality but, more importantly, his soulfulness and intelligence. Both of these attributes are his hallmark.

After the picture is taken, the trio is tied up, and Detective Regan(Aidan O’Hare) finds them. He asks Blennerhasset about the recently staged suicides he is working on. Blennerhasset politely refuses to help. A not so polite Nancy accuses her uncle of callously throwing her away when she was a child. They clearly have a complicated relationship. Cementing the trio, Connal demands to be addressed as an assistant and not a gravedigger or filthy errand boy. Initially confused by the request, Blennnerhasset is convinced by Nancy, who is a force to be reckoned with.

In the closing moments of Dead Still Episode 1, a lavish party finds a book with photos of the dead. These pictures include one of the recent suicides Detective Regan is investigating. A man is looking through the book and feigns drunkenness when he is caught. A woman in a black veil ominously points at the man and demands he leaves.

Dead Still Episode 2 is even funnier than Episode 1. With the main introductions made, each of the characters can dive into their quirks and idiosyncrasies. Nancy is fearless but has a soft spot for her uncle, and Connal is smitten with Nancy and a consummate gentleman. They are a thoroughly amusing pair that is fun to watch. Their relationship softens the bristly Blennerhasset and provides levity in the darkest of situations.

Poor Detective Regan again tries to get Blennerhasset to assist him, seeing the value in forensic photography. Blennerhasset refuses, stating he is plenty busy and money talks. He and Molloy depart for Kingstown for a new job while Nancy stays at the house and prepares for a party. Once arriving at the home of Lucinda and Auguste Breslin Connal, Blennerhasset and driver Caruthers instantly feel something is wrong. They are told Caruthers can’t stay anywhere on the property and must return to town. Comedy gold is achieved when Caruthers is asked if he can find something to do, and he replies, of course, I can drink. Exchanges like this are delivered with deadpan seriousness making them even funnier. Writers Imogen Murphy and John Morton have a way of ringing the largest laughs out of the most unexpected moments.

In fact, Episode 2 is chock-full of funny beats despite being a haunted house episode. Wrap around jokes about Caruthers’s punctuality, especially when drinking offset the bleakness of the Breslin’s stoic behavior and dead little boy. The Breslin’s home is creepy and isolated. When a terrible storm rolls in and Caruthers fails to return, Connal and Blennerhasset must stay for the night. Lucinda and Auguste continue to behave erratically, while strange noises plague the house. The dead boy’s ghost seemingly appears to Connal, resulting in him running to Blennerhasset for safety. That single event sets up the funniest sequence of the episode as the Breslin’s continue in their stilted ways and reprimands the two men for screaming in their house amid a major storm and with a ghost on the loose.

After all is said and done, it is revealed that the ghost is Samual, who is the twin to the dead boy. Samual is not a ghost at all but an unfortunate kid who has been locked in the nursery away from his brother and the world because he is different. The Breslin’s tried to poison him and accidentally poisoned their other son. Blennerhasset demands that they release Samual and allow the maid to care for him moving forward. Showing he does have a heart, he tells the Breslin’s he will check in on the boy from time to time. More practically concerned is Connal, who understands Evil doesn’t change, wishes they could do more. “Poetic justice is better than no justice,” Blennerhasset says as they pull away from the house. The Breslin’s will remain locked in the same nursery until they can prove to be decent people.

In the middle of the storm, Nancy decides to go to the party by herself. She is an independent free spirit who is blissfully unaware of the dangers the world poses to her or others. We are introduced to a myriad of possible suspects at the party, including Nancy’s brother Henry and party host Louis, who flirts in the strangest way possible. He tells Nancy she looks just like his dead wife. This bizarre pickup line might indicate more than just bad flirting skills. We also meet sculptor Percy(Mark Rendall), who may be less benign than he appears.

After an aggressive drunkard tries to kiss Nancy Percy, and her brother steps in. It turns out this same individual stole one of the dead stills from the book in the last episode. Percy and nancy share a dance and a kiss, and then he mysteriously disappears for hours. In the early morning hours, Nancy runs into Detective Regan on her way home from the party. He’s still working the case and knows someone inside the party is probably a killer.

Acorn TV’s latest series to premier is a delight from top to bottom. Dead Still Episode 1 and 2 are available now, and for the next four weeks, a new episode will be available on Monday morning. For the full series review and all our ongoing coverage, click here. To get a free 30-day trial of Acorn, click here and use code Free30.

Stray Thoughts:

  • What event happened to make Blennerhasset send his niece away and shut off from the world?
  • Detective Regan’s wife, Betty(Aoife Duffin), is a revelation. More of her should be seen. She gives sage advice and is much smarter than she gets credit for. Her grounded energy is good for Detective Regan, who tends to be slightly obsessive.
  • Please don’t let the killer be Percy because he is adorable.

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