Harry Wild: Jane Seymour stars in zippy Dublin detective caper

TV review: First episode’s sweet tone is an achievement given a man is stabbed to death in a ritual sacrifice

Jane Seymour attempting an Irish accent is a jolt of existential horror we could all do without. But while the well-known actor’s petrifying “lilt” takes some of the gloss off Harry Wild (RTÉ One, 9.35pm) it isn’t quite enough to entirely doom this charming, if thumpingly slight whodunnit.

Seymour’s barmy Blarney moment comes and goes relatively quickly when her character — the eponymous Harry — impersonates a Garda liaison officer while on the hunt for a missing woman. Otherwise, Seymour gets to use her own plummy English rose cadences as she portrays a retired English university lecturer based — for reasons not explained — in Dublin, who has embarked on an unlikely career in amateur sleuthing.

Harry Wild, co-created by Dublin thriller writer Jo Spain, belongs to a specific genre of crime telly: the backwater detective caper. The milieu has a rich lineage. Especially in the UK, where viewers are routinely whisked off to such out-of-the-way beauty spots as Oxfordshire (Midsomer Murders) and Yorkshire (Happy Valley).

Dublin as a quaint backwater is perhaps a stretch. And yet that was presumably the pitch that saw Harry Wild picked up in the US by Acorn, a streaming network specialising in drama from Ireland, the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

Harry Wild is in little danger of being mistaken for a high-concept thriller. Still, not all television has to be The Wire. Sometimes you want something sweet and forgettable. That is the tone throughout episode one. Which is rather an achievement given that it begins with a man stabbed to death in a ritual sacrifice and then goes on to encompass a kidnapping, larceny and Harry seducing a work colleague.

The series may also be enjoyed as a two-hander between Seymour and Amy Huberman, who plays her exasperated daughter-in-law, Orla. She’s married to Harry’s Garda son, Charlie (Kevin Ryan), and the two actors visibly enjoy throwing off sparks.

Or at least they do until Harry gets stuck into the murder mystery. Her life of crime-solving begins when she pinches one of Kevin’s case files and deduces the killer is taking his or her cues from an obscure Elizabethan play. Nobody believes her. But, nevermind — armed with a taser, she recruits young ne’er-do-well Fergus (Rohan Nedd) as her assistant.

Seymour has fun in the part. And Harry Wild is clearly eager to cash in on the Normal People, winners-go-to-Trinners factor by opening with a shot of Harry walking across Trinity’s cobble-stoned main quad. Prestige TV it isn’t — but it is zippy, has a lightness of touch and the 60 minutes zing by.

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics