Due South: s04 e03 – A Likely Story

Due South

The intention behind these posts about television series, or anything else for that matter, is to try to look at things objectively, from a subjective viewpoint: I choose to write about something like Due South because I enjoy it, and am interested in the first instance in analysing why. With very few exceptions, I don’t go around choosing things because I hate them, though that can lead to some very enjoyable snarking, as anyone who read my responses to Salamander, and some of the lesser Skandi series, will recall, I hope with pleasure.

But the subjective viewpoint is inherently flawed, as is the case today. I confess to having struggled to follow the story in this week’s episode – another instance of confusion as to where it stands in the series as a whole, being episode 3 on the DVD but episode 9 according to imdb – but whether that was because a rather convoluted plot was made insufficiently clear or whether it’s because I have a cold that’s spread to my head and am not thinking as clearly as usual is a mattter for debate.

It’s like the days I was watch/blogging Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: some episodes got a bad rap because I wasn’t in my best mind.

The episode did itself no immediate favours by opening with a bit of self-conscious Due South eccentricity, Fraser and Ray enjoying a campfire out in the wilds, Fraser telling a spooky campfire story, but they’re actually in a corner of the Park, which Ray points out. This will be repeated in the close, only Ray will be the one pretending its the wilds and Fraser the pragmatic. Either way, it was the set-up to introduce pretzel cart seller Franco Tucci, an elderly Italian with a sick wife he is devoted to, who works from sun-up to past sun-down. And who, within a minute, is shot down and killed.

This was the murder that drove the episode. Who wanted to kill such a harmless old man, with a distraught sweetheart of a widow? The episode introduced two strands. Up front, we had Mrs Tucci’s devoted live-in nurse, Luann Russell (Francie Swift, picture above) who was an absolute knock-out of a woman. Ray falls for her instantly. Fraser, being effectively sexless, remains objective. Given that the late Mr Tucci turns out to have been worth $1.7 million, as a member of his household being paid over the odds for a job she seemed to be carrying out happily and effectively, she became an obvious potential subject, and the episode flirted throughout with building her up as a shady character, whose interest in Ray could be interpreted as trying to use her appeal to smokescreen him.

The way it was done was so much a set-up that it was better than six to five that Luann would turn out to be innocent, which she did. What was interesting was that it was Ray who at first started piling on all the possibilties that she was the baddy, but displacing these onto Fraser and defending her to him. Very clever, in retrospect. Of course, as the plot developed, he comes to the conclusion that she is guilty, only she’s not, and thus he blows his chance with her in no uncertain manner.

The other strand was where my debilitation got me lost. Just how had a pretzel seller raised a $1.7 million fortune (perhaps he saved it?) Tucci was Italian. So too was Francesca Vecchio, complaining cultural stereotyping, but Tucci’s route took him past a notorious Mob headquarters and several ‘well-respected’ men attended his funeral. Unless I missed it, which can’t be ruled out, the source of Tucci’s wealth was never established. You were left to draw your own inferences.

One of which was that Tucci’s will left everything to Frankie Jr., with whom the old man had quarrelled twenty years before, leading to the pair losing contact. Except that Frankie turns up just in time to take the funeral (there was a Dalziel & Pascoe story/adaptation that featured exactly the same situation and that guy was a fake too). The thing was that Frankie Jr. had changed his name to Sammy Frank, gone into the mob business and supposedly been killed two years previously by an assassin hired by a rival family. Who was suddenly wanted for having taken the money and filed a false report to his employers.

What it ended up was that the assassin had killed Frankie Jr. This Frankie Jr. we were seeing here was the less-than-ethical Private Eye hired by someone I couldn’t make out – Luann made the most sense but I can’t say it was her without going back and watching the whole thing again – to prove Frankie Jr. was dead. Who had spotted his own resemblance to Frankie Jr. and set out to scam his way to the money.

So it was. On another day I’d have been more open to the story’s twists and turns but not right now. All I was truly fit for was observing that Francie Swift was a stunningly beautiful woman, in respect of which the picture above does her no fair representation. Which made up, a little, for my weekly complaint about insufficient Camilla Scott, i.e., none, yet again.

Normal service will be resumed next Thursday, with luck.

2 thoughts on “Due South: s04 e03 – A Likely Story

  1. “It’s like the days I was watch/blogging Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: some episodes got a bad rap because I wasn’t in my best mind.”

    Yeah, that’s always really frustrating. When you watch something that, by all rights, you know you should get sucked into…but because of the pesky thing called mood, you just can’t get into it. Happens to me more often than I’d like.

    1. And if I ever get round to watching the episode again, which is a possibility with Se South because I’m keeping the boxsets when I’ve finished, it’ll be so long there’ll be no point posting any alternate thoughts.

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