Public Service Announcement 2 of 2020: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, The Mallorca Files

UK fans of Chicago’s fictional emergency services rejoice! Friday night is now wall-to-wall earnest, shouty, sanctimonious yet glamorous people engaging in regular feats of heroism in between looking pained over their complicated personal lives night on Sky Witness, with new seasons of Chicago Med (moving over from the Universal channel), Chicago Fire and Chicago PD starting tonight at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm respectively. If you’ve watched any of these shows before, you know what to expect, and if you haven’t, welcome to the Dick Wolf Chicago televisual universe! Or not. Nobody is saying it’s essential viewing. The only one I watch (and yell at) regularly is Med, but even I couldn’t recommend it as actually being any good. I tried Fire once at the start and I thought it was the pits, but it’s extremely popular, so maybe it improved. And I’ve only ever seen a couple of minutes of PD at a time, but it seemed… no fun. Maybe it was having a bad day. Or maybe I was. If you like any or indeed all of the three, you’re far from alone. Enjoy.

If you’re looking for some decidedly lighter, sunnier, significantly less fraught tv, however, unpopcult’s latest obsession The Mallorca Files is just the ticket. After a successful, but very speedy, daytime/iPlayer showing at the tail end of 2019, season 1 is getting a more relaxed (as befits the show’s leisurely vibe), weekly, Saturday tea-time outing for the new year, starting tomorrow at 5.30pm. All the episodes are still on iPlayer if you want to binge, though – and you may well want to binge. I cannot overstate just how much Jed and I love this show, but I also need to make absolutely clear that if you’re looking for hard-hitting realism, you’re not going to find it pottering around Mallorca with Detectives Blake and Winter. What you will find, though, is an abundance of charm, cheer and shipping opportunities, which, frankly, suits me down to the ground. Begone, January blues!

The Mallorca Files s1

In The Mallorca Files, the BBC’s latest addition to the sleuths-in-the-sunshine canon (see also Death in Paradise, The Coroner, etc), uptight, workaholic English detective Miranda Blake and laidback, roguish German detective Max Winter team up to solve murders, find missing persons and amiably bicker their way across the beautiful Balearic island, while giving unpopcult almost everything we want in our comfort tv. Mismatched but somehow MFEO odd couple fighting growing feelings for each other? Check. Utterly charming, wildly attractive leads with truckloads of chemistry and tremendous comic timing? Definitely check. And a healthy sense of humour and lightness of touch which means it never, ever takes itself too seriously? ALL THE CHECKS.

Not that the show and I clicked immediately. After watching the slightly clunky first episode, I wasn’t yet convinced; I think I told Jed it was just ok, like a better version (much better, in fairness) of “Vexed.” And I kept wondering about the logistics of international police exchanges – I suspect that, even now, they’re not quite as quick and easy as Miranda’s move seems to be, and they may well be about to get harder. But never mind the real world, the lighthearted, sparky squabbling brought me back to the show anyway, and, with every new episode I watched, I grew to like it more and more, till, before I knew it, I’d blown through the whole season (all available on iplayer), recommended it to everyone I know, and started seriously questioning my life choices. I mean, Mallorca looks so lovely and warm. And sunny. Which, much as I love Scotland, is not how anyone could conceivably describe it just now – it’s cold and dark when I get up in the morning, cold and dark when I get home in the evening, and cold and dark for a sizeable chunk of the time in between. Sigh.

Enough about my climate envy, though. This is detective dramedy in its easiest, breeziest, cheeriest form, a sort of Spanish-set Private Eyes and, if you know just how much we love Private Eyes around here, you know I mean that as a huge compliment. In lesser hands, the irrepressible Max and the introvert Miranda might have been caricatures, but Julian Looman and Elen Rhys are both fantastic, bringing nuance, depth and joy (no matter how much DC Blake might try to hide it) to our heroes and their burgeoning relationship. The supporting cast is crammed full of excellent actors from all over Europe, all having a ball, which makes me even sadder about Brexit but happy we still have this in the meantime. There are TWO catchy theme songs you can sing along to, with actual lyrics and everything. And once the initial awkwardness of that first episode is out of the way, the stories get better and the stakes get higher as the season goes on till the last three episodes become genuinely great tv, culminating in a superb finale which deftly juggles satire, comedy, proper peril and honest-to-goodness feelings in the best possible way. I LOVED THE FINALE SO MUCH, YOU GUYS. Compañeros forever! I’m now obsessively shipping Max and Miranda (sorry Carmen), I keep singing “We’ve got time on our side, it’s never too late…. “, and it’s just as well season 2 has started filming because I already miss the delightfully good-natured fun of season 1.