TV3's new local drama The Blue Rose, Mondays, is one of those shows it's tempting to save up on MySky so you can have a decent binge.
It's a crisp, modest little thriller, but so engrossing, you readily forget that the last time Antonia Prebble and Siobahn Marshall were on TV, they were the Westie sisters from hell.
This time, one is a character straight out of Jane Austen, while the other could almost be running an empire on The Sopranos.
Prebble is Jane, a slightly downtrodden but astute legal secretary temping at a toney law firm, who says things like, "But it's confidential!"and Marshall is Linda, a scrappy and unscrupulous courier firm boss, who says things like, "Who's gonna make me?"
Delightfully ill-matched, they intersect when Linda comes barging into the firm demanding her dead friend's Rose's belongings.
Rose is the secretary whom Jane has just replaced, and who drowned off the Auckland wharf in mysterious circumstances. Linda quickly endears herself by biffing the office bitch and Jane by defusing the resultant near-brawl.
By degrees, we learned the late Rose was involved in something mysterious and possibly dangerous.
Through a combination of accidentally overhearing things and slyly snooping through files, Jane is coming to believe Rose's death had something to do with a nasty little financial cover-up originating at the law firm.
Egged on by Linda, who makes no bones about intercepting her firm's courier deliveries to sniff out further evidence, Jane is in the middle of her own John Grisham story - only with nice local twists.
Thousands of investors lost in the collapse of Lancaster Finance, but a group who were going to take the directors to court have been secretly paid off.
Crowd-pleasingly, the apparent villain is the failed finance chief, Peterson, played with a perma-sneer by Stelios Yakmis.
It appears he and the firm have cooked this up - but it could equally be a set-up to avenge the poor mum-and-dad investors, coincidentally, including Jane's parents.
Incidental characters also suggest themselves as suspicious: the creepy, officious little bossy-britches from the IT department; the overbearing office manager; Rose's druggie ex-; the mysterious woman client; and even the boozy, irreverent junior lawyer.
The dialogue is crisp and amusing and the pace is brisk. While appealing and attractive, the characters are also commonplace enough to be a welcome change from the ultra-slick folk who inhabit overseas dramas with similar themes, like Damages and The Good Wife.
- The Dominion Post