"Father Dowling" Blesses Audiences With Family-Friendly Mysteries Review

You probably couldn’t get away with the super wholesome nature of The Father Dowling Mysteries. Measured against shows like CSI, Law & Order, or even Criminal Minds, Father Dowling feels naively optimistic about the world of crime and even the world as a whole. Then again, could you frame a series about a priest and nun mystery solving duo in any other context? Too many run-ins with thugs with guns or situations that are actually dangerous and you’d have both protagonists reexamining their sleuthing hobby and opting against going out from the church at night. The Father Dowling Mysteries belong in the safe confines of nostalgia where they can be watched as simple viewing pleasure for mystery enthusiasts, because if it went any further than that the cynicism of the modern age would tear it apart.

Father Dowling (Tom Bosley) and Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson) just can’t seem to help themselves when a few out of place clues catch their eye. Very quickly they’re off investigating whatever odd circumstances piqued their interest and before they know it they’re knee-deep in a mystery. The second season of the short-lived series (three seasons total) sees a number of fun little conundrums involving mobsters posing as priests, an art thief, and more. Each time, Dowling and the sister use keen observations to put a stop to the fiendish act before the criminal can get away.

The basic formula is about what you’d expect from a series where the main characters are men and women of God: the humor is light and harmless, the crimes are noteworthy but friendly for viewing of all ages, and the writing has plenty of exposition to make sure audiences never get lost. The mysteries are never all that complex and it’s less the kind of show where they offer clues and tie it all together in a big reveal and more a systematic advancement of an A to B plot with the Father and Sister following the clues to a very clear and linear endpoint. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s clearly a show from a time when it wasn’t believed TV audiences could handle non-linear storytelling.

DVD Bonus Features

There are none.

"The Father Dowling Mysteries: The Second Season" is on sale July 10, 2012 and is not rated. Mystery. Directed by Christopher Hibler, James Frawley. Written by Ralph McInerny, Dean Hargrove, Joel Steiger. Starring Tom Bosley, Tracy Nelson.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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