The second season of Da Vinci's Inquest, recently issued in boxed set by Acorn Media, begins and ends on cases that will feed into the Vancouver coroner's advocacy of a controlled red-light district in the city. Both two-parters center on the murder of city working girls, and they provide two of the most compelling episodes of the series' sophomore season.
The second, featuring a skull-faced Matt Frewer as a sadistic accountant with serious self-control issues, reaches the sinister depths of the first season's concluding serial killer storyline and provides the former Max Headroom with a great vehicle for his typically idiosyncratic acting style. (I read on IMDb that Frewer has a role on Da Vinci's creator Chris Haddock's newest teledrama, Intelligence, but, to the best of my knowledge, that series hasn't yet shown up in the states.) Judging from its first two seasons, though, Haddock and his writers definitely know how to polish up their season bookends.
If the remaining nine season two episodes aren't as consistently gripping, they maintain the same blend of crime show procedural and social drama as the first. Haddock and his writers continue to share a healthy distrust of neat resolutions, resulting in a procedural world that's distinctly removed from the tidy realms of the C.S.I.s. Their characters' lives are nearly as messy.
Dominic Da Vinci (Nicholas Campbell) still wrestles with his alcoholism - in the season's sole comic episode, we watch him and detective Leo Shannon (Donnelly Rhodes) get blitzed in a bar and then sneak into an indigent dead man's place to retrieve a winning lottery ticket - and remains his engagingly opinionated self. His relationships with his ex-wife and daughter (Gwynyth Walsh and Jewel Staite, respectively) receive only minimal play this season, and, with the exception of Leo and his sometime partner Mick Leary (Ian Tracey), the rest of the show's ensemble isn't really given all that much to do either. I keep wishing that Helen, Da Vinci's secretary, had been given more moments in the show since actress Sarah (Men in Trees) Strange can do more with a look than many actresses can with a fully scripted, front-and-center scene. Perhaps in season three?