Tuesday, January 19, 2021

TV Tuesday: Home Before Dark

When I finally joined the 21st century and got a smartphone last summer, an iPhone, a free year of Apple TV came with it. I had wanted to see The Morning Show, the Jennifer Aniston/Reese Witherspoon drama (review of that one later), so I accepted the offer. Now, we are exploring additional offerings on Apple TV before our free year runs out. Our favorite so far is Home Before Dark, a classic murder mystery/suspense show ... except that the "detective" is a 9-year-old girl.

Hilde Lisko, played by Brooklynn Prince, isn't too happy about her family's recent move from urban Brooklyn to a small town in Washington state where her Dad grew up. Her father, Matt, played by Jim Sturgess, isn't too happy about it, either, but there are hints that he lost his journalism job over some sort of scandal. He and his wife, Bridget (played by Abby Miller), and their three daughters try to adjust to small town life while getting reacquainted with Matt's dad, played by Reed Birney, who has dementia. Oddly, no one in Matt's home town seems particularly glad to see him again. Hilde wants to be a journalist just like her dad and wrote her own newspaper back in Brooklyn, so she starts up again here in remote Washington. After an unexpected death soon after they arrive, Hilde quickly finds out why her dad is not being welcomed back. Decades earlier, her father's best friend, Richie, was kidnapped and never found. Police arrested a young Native American man named Sam, played by Michael Greyeyes, and convicted him, but Matt--just a child about Hilde's age--testified at the trial that he was not the man in the van who took Richie. Now, Matt is back, with his determined young daughter, this latest death has a link to those old events, and the cold case is again dividing the town. Hilde and her friends bike, scooter, and walk all over town to try to solve both the recent death and the decades-old case, despite pushback from the police who insist the right man is in prison.

This show has all the features of any good mystery/suspense/thriller show with a murder at its center, but the young girl leading the investigation makes it something special. You might think that a little girl investigator would be too cutesy, but young Brooklyn Prince does an outstanding job in the role, with a fierce determination for justice that would put most adult detectives to shame. The story is actually based in truth, on real-life 9-year-old journalist Hilde Lysiak who really did solve a murder in her town. So, it's not as far-fetched as you might think. The other children and the adult actors are also excellent in their roles, as you struggle to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. The mystery itself is complex and twisty, with plenty of unexpected reveals and red herrings. Best of all, the show has emotional depth and a sense of humor, which we always appreciate, especially in a show that might otherwise be too dark. My husband and I both enjoyed this show very much. We usually juggle 6-8 shows at once, but we kept coming back to this one and were sorry when it ended. Luckily, season one ended with an unexpected twist, so we can't wait for season two!

Home Before Dark is an Apple TV show, so it is available exclusively on that streaming service (which is free for one year for anyone who buys an Apple device).

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