Poker Face: Natasha Lyonne’s perfect detective show turns up the fun-o-meter until it explodes
The sleuth is out there … Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face. Photograph: Peacock/Evans Vestal Ward
A PI who can spot liars a mile away, and a cast clearly having a hoot, inject the classic murder-of-the-week format with wit, charm and irresistible energy
Whatever happened to fun? We used to have it, didn’t we? Mr Blobby bursting through things, stuff like that. But in recent years, it feels, fun has receded a bit, and we’ve replaced it with other things that don’t hit as hard: overearnestness or mawkishness or choreographed sentimentality. Someone really trembling while they deliver a series-closing monologue about their emotions. You couldn’t have Del Boy falling through a bar these days, could you? That’s because we’re in a fun drought, the dust of it whirling round us like old glitter.
Thank goodness then for Poker Face, the enormously successful mystery-a-week show that debuted in the US earlier this year and has finally come over to Sky Max (from Friday), and which remembers throughout what fun is. First there is the casting of Natasha Lyonne, who is always fun – her own vibrating beacon of freestanding fun, even – but is especially fun when she just plays the character of Natasha Lyonne, which is exactly what she is doing here. Then there’s that little tweak to the “unlikely detective” trope – Lyonne’s Charlie Cale has the innate ability to sense when someone’s telling a lie (her catchphrase is just “bullshit”, which is – you guessed it) – and uses it to unpuzzle strange murders and bizarre crimes on a run-from-the-mob-boss road trip across the US.