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SYFY WIRE Poker Face

Fill the mystery void before 'Poker Face' with these throwback murder classics on Peacock

"Oh, and one more thing..."

By Brian Silliman
Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale in Poker Face Season 1 Episode 2

Natasha Lyonne is about to start cracking cases. Poker Face is a new mystery-of-the-week series that will come to Peacock on Jan. 26, and it looks like it’s gonna be lovely satisfaction for mystery fans. Crime solving Charlie Cale (Lyonne) drives a Barracuda and can always sniff out a lie. We’re in already.

She will be joined by a murderer’s row (sorry) of guest stars, including (but not limited to) Adrien Brody, Ron Perlman, Stephanie Hsu, Cherry Jones, and Simon Helberg. Oh, and one more thing… the show was created by Rian Johnson.

The brilliant helmer of Star Wars: The Last Jedi has made a name for himself when it comes to the mystery genre. Knives Out was a delight, and a sequel came in just at the end of last year. Glass Onion was completely different, but just as great. Both movies feature Kentucky-fried detective Benoit Blanc, a man that Daniel Craig was born to play.

Say you’ve already watched Glass Onion four or five times, and are desperate for Poker Face to begin? You love Benoit Blanc, but Charlie Cale hasn’t pulled up yet. What do you do? Peacock has you covered. Two of the best mystery-of-the-week series ever made are currently streaming there.

Angela Lansbury

The first is the lovely Murder, She Wrote. Dame Angela Lansbury stars as sleuth/writer Jessica Fletcher, and she is charm itself personified. She solves crimes, writes books, and merrily types along with theme music that will stay in your head for weeks.

If it’s been a while since you’ve watched an episode of this gem, we suggest revisiting it. It’s a classic for a reason, and while some aspects of it cannot help but be dated (phones), a great deal of it holds up. Most of Jessica’s cases take place in her home of Cabot Cove, and yes, it’s a little odd that bodies keep piling up in that tiny town. The authorities are usually wrong and hopeless, so the brilliant consulting Jessica is always needed to point things out that they have missed. After that, she can write books about all of it. Like Benoit Blanc, she’s not Batman. She has no jurisdiction, and she’s not packing heat. She’s a consultant (whether the police want her help or not), and she’s brilliant.

The mysteries themselves are good, but the main reason that the show stands (and will continue to stand) the test of time is the work of the dearly departed Lansbury. She is a star whether she’s on stage or screen, and she kills (sorry) in the role of Jessica Fletcher.

She’s the reason to watch. There’s no finer thing than spending an hour or so with Dame Angela Lansbury. She is a wholesome and comforting presence, even when she gets caught up in violence. Underestimate her at your peril.

The other classic that Peacock currently streams? Columbo.

Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo

This classic usually shows the crime right away, so the audience is in on it from the start. The magic of the show is watching how the titular detective (who sometimes doesn’t hit the scene until halfway through the episode) will figure out what has already been seen. There’s no need to yell answers at him, because Lieutenant Columbo is brilliant.

Oh, and one more thing… the dearly departed Peter Falk is a legend in the role. He’s be a legend if for nothing else than his often-repeated delivery of “oh, and one more thing” at the close of almost ever case. He loves chili, he has a wife that we never see, and his first name may or may not be Frank. Watching Falk's rumpled genius be one step ahead of everyone is always a magical time. He’s one step ahead of the criminals, the police, and even the audience… and we’ve already seen the actual crime.

It is a sad thing that Lt. Columbo and Jessica Fletcher never had the chance to work a case together. It’s even more unfortunate that Benoit Blanc couldn’t join them, but fans of Glass Onion can take comfort in the fact that Blanc and Lansbury were zoom friends who enjoyed playing Among Us. Lansbury enjoyed it, anyway. Stephen Sondheim seemed to like it too.

Before Lyonne cock-a-roaches her Charlie Cale into pop culture history, spend some time with two detectives who will never let you down. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Benoit Blanc would all be honored to stand next to them.

Columbo and Murder, She Wrote are currently streaming on Peacock. Poker Face begins streaming on Jan. 26.