The Doctor Blake Mysteries (2013-17): The Good & The Ugly

This was written for Movie Rob’s November 2022 Genre Grandeur of Doctors!

I think I would be able to say that as an American, I’ve seen more Australian TV than the average citizen. Starting from the time H2O Just Add Water came to America in 2008, I kind of started down a rabbit hole of finding these really fun Aussie TV shows. I saw Dance Academy (which I wrote about), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, A Place to Call Home (I also wrote about it) Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries. Then there is another Aussie show called Doctor Blake Mysteries, which aired from 2013-2017. I started watching in 2015, catching up with the first two seasons and then watching 3 on-wards as it was airing. I credit my good friend Marie who sent me links on YouTube so I watched before America got them.

Now, I admit, because I had this huge void left after watching Miss Fisher, I then got hooked on two shows: Dr. Blake and also the Canadian TV show Murdoch Mysteries (which in my personal opinion has gone on for far too long, and should have ended on a high note, rather than dragging it out for, as it currently stands, 16 years in counting).

Ever since Dr. Blake ended on an extremely sour and somewhat premature note, I’m not sure I can exactly say I love the show as much, (although the show is good), Craig McLachlan’s (the title character!) accusations are pretty serious. He somewhat ruins the show for me. Personally, I always want to find out as many details of situations before deciding for myself if I stop watching shows/ movies with certain people, but there are some pretty explicit pictures on the internet that back up the claims that were made. With all of that being said I will say this show introduced me to the fabulous Joel Tobeck (Chief Superintendent Matthew Lawson) and Nadine Garner (Jean Beazley, Blake’s housekeeper/ receptionist).

Dr. Blake is a show that relies heavily on a backstory, which is as follows: Dr. Lucien Blake left his native Ballarat as a young man to study medicine in Scotland. When World War II broke out he served in the British Army medical core, and after being posted to the Pacific theater, met and fell in love with a Chinese woman. They eventually married and had a daughter, but when Singapore fell, he lost all contact of them. Blake himself was then a POW in Thailand, and after 33 years abroad, in 1958 decides to return home to Australia to take over his father’s medical practice.

Season 1 deals with Blake coming home and re-adjusting to Australia, all while clashing with Lawson on different approaches to solving murder. Blake and Lawson work together very frequently, as Blake also takes on the role of police surgeon. Police constable Danny Parks (Rick Donald), who is Jean’s nephew) works closer with Blake than he does with his own boss on the cases, and rounding out the cast is Dr. Blake’s lodger Mattie (Cate Wolfe), who is a nurse and taking classes to further her medical education. Overall, its a solid season and it naturally leaves the door open for season 2. What no one on production expected was the revolving door cast that would effect the rest of the show.

Season 2, Danny is posted to Melbourne, and Charlie Davis (Charles Cousins) steps in as the constable (for the rest of the show), and towards the end of the season, Lawson must face up to his superiors and leaves his position in Ballarat. Season 3 sees a new police superintendent William Munro (Craig Hall- love him as an actor!) who has it out for Dr Blake. Season 4 is probably the weakest season of the show as Mattie departs for a new position abroad in London and yet another superintendent comes in Frank Carlyle (Rodger Corser), whom of which Blake gets along with. Lawson makes occasional appearances in seasons 3 and 4, but for the main part is not in the show, as Joel Tobeck took on other projects, but within the show, in season 4, his niece Rose (Anna McGahan) comes in as a new journalist in town.

All throughout the show, one of the driving elements of the narrative is the romantic relationship (or lack of romantic relationship?) between Blake and Jean. Craig and Nadine have amazing chemistry as they met when they were 15 and 20 when doing Aussie soap operas. The fact they know each other as actors and friends really translates through and you believe in their chemistry and budding romance throughout the show. (Note: some may not see it this way anymore after knowing of McLachlan’s accusations)

The terrible element of the show that is now apparent throughout, is the undertones of the accusations of Craig McLachlan. He was accused of some pretty nasty and inappropriate acts while on Dr. Blake and a 2014 Aussie production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and due to some pictures of some past productions that surfaced on line, its easy to believe they all are true. McLachlan left a 2018 production of Rocky Horror, and really hasn’t worked since as Dr. Blake was cancelled and the short lived one off spin off that centered around Jean carried on without him. For me, its a creepy when his character is consoling various young women, when you know that behind the scenes different events played out.

The REAL star of the show for me: Joel Tobeck, as Matthew Lawson

Overall, If you’re willing to look past Craig McLachlan’s accusations and personal debacles, Doctor Blake Mysteries is a show that has great acting, interesting plot lines, and a great cast of supporting characters, all set against the late 1950s. But, if you cannot get past Craig McLachlan- then the show is certainly something you shouldn’t watch. I watched it through once completely through before the accusations, but now have struggled a bit to re-watch the show, often fast forwarding the Dr.’s solo scenes. To each their own.

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One thought on “The Doctor Blake Mysteries (2013-17): The Good & The Ugly

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