"Queens of Mystery" & Documentaries on AcornTV Streaming

by Kathleen Costa

AcornTV is a favorite entertainment option for many Anglophiles, like me. I daily spend some time watching episodes of my favorite iconic shows like Murdoch Mysteries (season fifteen airing February 28) and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or trying something new like Under the Vine or Jericho. Whatever genre or year of production I choose, however, the programs continue to have high quality video and audio, easy access day and night, and availability on any device from my iPhone, iPad, or computer. This makes my membership fee ($5.99 monthly or special annual fee $59.99) well worth renewing again and again. I am excited that many favorite cozies, like AcornTV Original Queens of Mystery, are finally emerging from a long Covid break, but during the interim, I became a fan of culinary, travel, and historical documentaries.

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Queens of Mystery’s first season aired in 2019, but the pandemic put season two on hold. But, to everyone’s delight, it has emerged from Covid constraints with the long-awaited second season and three new entertaining cases. Season Two continues to follow the more seasoned career of DS Matilda Stone along with her navigating the interference by her three quirky aunts: Cat (Julie Graham), Jane (Siobhan Redmond), and Beth (Sarah Woodward). But, as we learned in season one, when Matilda was “three years, three days, three hours, and three minutes old,” her mother Eleanor mysteriously disappeared causing her to live with those three loving aunts who offered her varied perspectives, a love of mystery, and a tuna pasta bake. The aunts, though, know more than they say about their sister’s disappearance and the connection to a mysterious man, and actively conceal any information or memorabilia, for what they believe, is in Matilda’s best interest. Nonetheless, Matilda is a detective sergeant and a mystery, even if it’s her own, begs to be solved. Then, interruptions…“Stone, we have a murder!”

Image Source Acorn

Sparring with Death Wildemarsh Wellness Retreat is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and Dr. Isherwood, the retreat director, has decided to retire, but the announcement of her replacement is quite a surprise and disappointment to the her brother and the woman who’s been her right hand. So, is it no wonder that the director is later found murdered by sauna? Then, another murder reveals false identities, problematic funding sources, and missing drugs. In Matty’s own mystery, she inadvertently meets the wife of the officer who investigated her mother’s disappearance, but getting answers, of course, are stalled. Earns 5/5 Beehives.

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The Modern Art of Murder Aunt Cat is the artist in the family and her work is set to be included in a gallery exhibition, but a naked man, squabbling ex-spouses, and a dead artist in the “duckie” sculpture exposes artistic jealousies, cutthroat behaviors, greed, and questionable provenance of the masters. The added dead artist among the mannequins, Cat’s hopes to see her estranged daughter, and Matty now having two men vying for her attentions, complicates the drama. But, for Matty, her eagerness to find out more of her mother’s case is met with a “For Sale” sign and a raven charm found on the ground. Earns 5/5 Pink Duckies.

The Raven Heritage House is both “quaint and creepy” due in part to its world famous collection dedicated to American author Edgar Allen Poe, which includes the original manuscript of The Tell-Tale Heart. To inject much needed funds into the museum, the manuscript is set to be auctioned. The Poe professor is excited, the librarian is furious, and the manuscript is missing, a black feather in its place. The Raven, a cat burglar that stalked Wildemarsh decades ago, is implicated, but it also may reveal curious connections to Matty’s mother’s disappearance, if only the pertinent police files could be found. But, it’s the dead body that grabs everyone’s attentions. Earns 5/5 Black Feathers.

Image Source Acorn
Queens of Mystery is a favorite with its delightful pop-up book-style opening and soundtrack, clever narration by Juliet Stevenson, a raven, a windmill, and just enough quirky repartee to be enchanting fun. Each pair of episodes follows a new investigation set first at a spa, then an art gallery, and finally, a museum with victims that seem karmic in nature. The clues are revealed in clever, if not accidental, ways exposing several suspects and always leading to a surprise arrest. But more times than not, the aunts get in the way, cause angst for DCI Thorne (Martin Trenaman), who can’t find the way to profess his true feelings for Jane, and someone always ends up in a perilous situation. Matilda’s love-life is again an issue with more than one interested party: Dr. Daniel Lynch, PC Foster, and EMT George. She has her preference…maybe. The secrets, the mystery man, evasive answers, and the aunts’ motives to shield Matty from some truth continues to weave through the story, but with no conclusion…yet! Two bonuses are available for additional background: Series 1 Recap and Behind the Scenes. There was a change to the cast that I didn’t see it harm the program at all. With the same slight build, platinum bob, blue eyes, and quiet performance, Florence Hall took the lead from Olivia Vinall as Matilda Stone and made it her own. Season Two earns 5/5 Ravens…brilliant fun!

Queens of Mystery Season One, also reviewed for KRL, is available in its entirety along with a Bonus: Behind the Scenes and Queens of Mystery Easter Eggs. Each case, set at a crime writers’ festival, a recording studio, and a theater, spread out over two-episodes each, have the signature karmic murder, clever intrigue, quirky dialogue, and surprise conclusion. Along with the introductions of the main characters and all their connections, internal secrets, and romance angst the impetus of the mystery behind Matilda’s mother’s disappearance is provided. Earns 5/5 Windmills.

Ok, let’s talk documentaries! During the pandemic, with many programs on hold, I expanded my entertainment into the world of non-fiction with shows not only meant to entertain, but also to educate, enlighten, and maybe even inspire. AcornTV has many shows exploring the art of cooking, eating, and drinking along with visiting exciting “bucket list” destinations and a peek into history with the experts. Never a dull moment.

Culinary Treats

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The Big Bread Experiment (2011) is a three-episode 18-month social experiment in Yorkshire’s Bedale led by Curate Cath Vickers joined by five diverse friends and two artisan bakers as a “bread-baking club,” dubbed Wit’s End (for obvious reasons). Their mission is to revitalize an ancient watermill to ground flour (a huge project with a huge cost), use the flour to set up a community-run bakery, and hopefully, to get their community baking and eating real bread. Through giggles and wine-fueled oops-es, challenges passing tests and staying enthusiastic, and conflicts and surprise changes, the experience was an extraordinary journey. Earns 5/5 Artisan Loaves of Love.

Bucket-List Destinations in Style

Vintage Roads Great & Small (2018), hosted by Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison of the original All Creatures Great and Small fame, provides a historical view of many of Britain’s backroads, tarred or not, motoring in classic 1930s Morgan 4/4. Their friendship and humor fills the seven episodes through the Scottish highlands to the Isle of Skye, with a stop near Loch Ness, London to Land’s End, Cardiff to Snowdonia, Yorkshire Dales (James Herriot country), and much more. Earns 5/5 Vintage Morgans.

History 101

Britain’s Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates & Rogues (2015), is a fascinating look at the seventeenth and eighteenth century when crime was endemic. Criminals robbed, cheated, and murdered on the road, the high seas, and in urban and rural settings with impunity since there really was no established police force to arrest and exact punishment. Each one hour episode offers intriguing insights from historian Dr. Sam Willis and other experts, artifacts, and entertaining re-enactments of the Knights of the Road, Pirates, and Rogues’ Gallery. Many famous figures were explored, but also those who may have only played a part in creating the legends. Earns 5/5 Swords, Pistols, and Hangmen.

AcornTV In Production

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From new seasons of favorites to original dramas, comedies, and mysteries, 2022 is set to be exciting! Climb on board! The Good Karma Hospital (season four) returns with the original ensemble, led by Amanda Redman as Dr. Fonseca, again serving the local community in rural India. Harry Wild (new series) stars Jane Seymour as a retired literature professor Harriet Wild who through her own brush with crime becomes a private investigator. Hidden Assets (new series) follows the Criminal Assets Bureau, led by Angelina Bell as DS Berry, exacting further penalties for criminal behavior. The Other One (season two) explores the funny side of two families, starring Siobhan Finneran and Rebecca Front, connected by one man who led two separate lives. Signora Volpe (new series) stars Emilia Fox as Sylvia Fox, a disillusioned British spy turned detective along the Adriatic coast of Italy. London Kills (season three) with DI Bradford (Hugo Speer) and DS Cole (Sharon Small) as the best of London’s detectives taking on the worst of London’s underground. Darby & Joan (new series) stars strangers, widowed nurse (Greta Scacchi) and retired Aussie policeman (Bryan Brown), embarking on an epic journey through the Outback. Recipes for Love & Murder (new series) stars Mary Doyle Kennedy as Tannie Maria, a recipe advice columnist, who instead receives letters for advice on more pressing matters than how to cook a turkey, like murder.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.