Briarpatch (2 stars)


Dull and derivative mystery drama that tries oh so hard to be weird and wonderful. Spoiler alert: it fails

It's been just over 30 years since Mark Frost and David Lynch turned TV upside down with the epic smalltown fever dream that was Twin Peaks. Ever since that era-defining moment with its Who Killed Laura Palmer? viewing parties and merchandise, studios and producers have been hellbent on replicating whatever special potion that pair managed to bottle. But time after time, from Wayward Pines to Hemlock Grove and Carnivale to Riverdale, the magic has eluded them.

Briarpatch is merely the latest in that long line of disappointments, no matter how hard it tries to be a quirky delight. And boy, does it try hard, with exotic animals idly roaming the streets of a Texas backwater with a cast featuring a billionaire playboy (Jay R Ferguson), a slimy baddie (Alan Cumming) and a police chief with political aspirations (Kim Dickens). They're led by Rosario Dawson whose Allegra Dill has returned to her home patch after her sister (a cop rising through the ranks) is killed in a car explosion (it's unclear whether Who Blew Up Felicity Dill? hoodies are currently on sale).

Flung into this central narrative purely for the heck of it is a tiger occupying a hotel corridor, a sleazeball mayor who plays golf in the desert (the Cumming baddie also irons his shirts in the same desert) and lots and lots of people saying oddball things with curious emphases in their exaggerated accents. About halfway through, as though acknowledging that the weirdness just isn't doing it any favours, Briarpatch settles down into a run-of-the-mill murder(s) mystery, with the reek of corruption emanating from every single state official.

The only time Briarpatch comes close to being in any way terrifying (another crucial element the Twin Peaks copycats have failed to match) is when it rips off the car dream sequence from The Sopranos. By episode 10, having long since given up caring about any of the characters on screen, you'll simply be pleading for the whole thing to stop. The giraffes (or zebras or tortoises or dromedaries) are not what they seem.

Alibi, Wednesdays, 9pm; episodes 1 & 2 available now.