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The Indian Detective
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Indian Detective is a murder mystery set in India starring a fish-out-of-water cop from Canada named Doug D'Mello (Russell Peters). It's generally gentler, milder, and slower than other police procedurals/murder mystery shows set in the United States. Though there's at least one on-screen death, it's a poisoning, and the man dies quickly, with no blood or screams. Later, viewers see his funeral and dead body, but he looks peacefully asleep and is being draped with flowers by calm mourners. In another scene, an Indian police officer "questions" a subject by shaking and pushing him roughly. D'Mello is romantically interested in two different women; expect dating, flirting, and references to their beauty. There are also a few mildly off-color jokes, including a running gag about D'Mello's father farting and one about a man being well-endowed. Language is infrequent but includes "a--hole," "goddammit," "hell," and "d--ks."
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What's the story?
In Netflix's limited series THE INDIAN DETECTIVE, Doug D'Mello (Russell Peters) is suspended from his constable job in Toronto after a border town drug bust that he orchestrated with his partner Robyn (Christina Cole) goes humiliatingly awry. D'Mello's pretty down, until he gets an unexpected call from his father, Stanley (Anupam Kher) -- why not use his time off to visit his old man in Mumbai? But though D'Mello expects his time in India to be a vacation, he soon runs afoul of local drug lord Gopal Chandekar (Hamza Haq) and his billionaire bankroller, David Marlowe (William Shatner). Can D'Mello unravel the international drugs-and-murder plot he's stumbled into with the help of comely and clever Mumbai neighbor Priya (Mishqah Parthiephal), without getting himself killed?
Is it any good?
It's rare in our era of boundary-pushing cable and alternative-network dramas that a show about crime and murder is as gentle as a warm bath, but here we are. The Indian Detective is a bit of a throwback to the '80s crop of crime series in which murder was just a minor complication before the first commercial: Murder, She Wrote, Magnum, P.I., Matlock. The murders and tragedy are safely offscreen (or sanitized, like one death scene in which a poisoned man expires with no more fuss than going down for a nap), and what we see is a likable cop wisecracking his way through a case.
The show's Mumbai setting, though, does add some sparkle to the proceedings. As a clumsy tourist in his ancestral homeland, D'Mello stumbles through a lot of picturesque night markets with street food vendors tending to grills and piles of unfamiliar (to many Westerners) fruit. In the show's first episode, we watch a swami's funeral: calm mourners line up to drape his bier with orange flowers; candles are lit and set afloat on the ocean. Later, three young girls explain to D'Mello that their plan to get enough money to attend a university will come from praying to the Hindu goddess Saraswati, indicating their altar to her. These and other unusual (again, to many, but of course not all, Westerners) sights and plot points give The Indian Detective a distinct but easy-to-digest novelty -- it's like traveling in a foreign country with a friend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Indian Detective's setting makes it different from a police procedural you may have seen set in the U.S., U.K., or Canada. What things do you see that are new to you? What types of scenes are atypical for a police procedural or murder mystery?
Shows that revolve around law enforcement officers solving a mystery often have murders that take place offscreen and involve characters we don't know (well, or at all). Why? If a character we've grown to like or love were murdered, how would that change the show? If the focus is not on the pain and tragedy of murders, what are such shows really about?
Is the audience supposed to like D'Mello? How can you tell? How does a show signal which of its characters is a main character, a hero, a villain, a complication, a love interest? Try watching a scene with the sound off -- other than dialogue, how are characters' importance and relationships with each other indicated?