Just like Sherlock Holmes needed his Dr. Watson, retired sleuth Alexa Crowe (Lucy Lawless) needs Madison Feliciano (Ebony Vagulans) to help her solve crimes. The work they do can be seen in “My Life Is Murder.”
The second season of the production on the streaming service of Acorn TV is slated to launch Aug. 30.
Crowe investigates murder mysteries in surprising, glamorous worlds filled with intriguing characters who hide dangerous and deadly secrets. The crimes were committed and solved in Australia during the first season but will unfold in New Zealand for the second season.
Season two includes investigations into the deaths of a resort chef found in his walk-in freezer, an actor murdered in the middle of a live performance, an ambitious young winemaker, a high-end jeweler and a self-help guru.
Lawless knew Vagulans would be a critical part of the series from her first audition.
“Ebony Vagulans was the last person to come in for the role, and she just blew everybody else out of the water,” Lawless says. “I said, ‘It has to be her.’ And everybody all the way along the line up to Acorn said, ‘Yeah, it has to be her.’
“What a discovery. This girl is so talented, so intelligent. I just knew she was somebody I could be chained to night and day for four months and not want to kill them.”
The metaphorical chains Lawless is talking about has to do with how some cast mates will spend more time together onscreen than with others. The best previous example of that necessary connection came during the years Lawless starred in “Xena, Warrior Princess.”
The majority of the scenes in that sword-and-sorcery series feature Lawless working with Renée O’Connor as Gabriel. In a fun bit of casting, O’Connor is scheduled to guest star on “My Life Is Murder” during season two.
Lawless says, “I will confess, too, I actually need her – as an actress, as a human being. I feel much better when Ebony is around because she completes me or something. It’s just a beautiful, organic pairing, much like Renée in ‘Xena’ days.
“It’s just the magic is in the duo.”
The landscape is different but the main characters remain the same in “My Life Is Murder” and the clever way Crowe solves the mysteries is identical. There will be no change in the way the show is presented as the series always has a bright look even if the subject matter is dark.
Lawless is convinced viewers have been fed a steady diet of dark takes of murder and mystery over the last few years. The bright look of “My Life Is Murder” is designed to be the sharpest of contrasts.
“We do pump up the colors because that’s part of our agreement with the audience. That they’ll come for something bright and at the end of the hour, they will feel good. So it’s the very similitude of justice and a lovely little pseudo-family that you want to spend time with,” Lawless says. “It was something that I did because I’ve done a lot of dark stuff in my career and I was a little bit tired of it, to be honest, and I wanted to try something a bit network.
“A bit more in the middle because I’ve never ever done it. And I thought, nobody might show up at our party, but let’s go make it anyway and it’s turned out great. And guess what? Murder does happen in bright places, too.”
At the same time, Lawless points out that Crowe lost her husband, which gives the character a raw edge. It is also the reason she has put up an emotional fortress to protect herself.
The second season mirrors the first in many ways but the shift of locations is huge. All of the changes for season two concerned Lawless.
“You’ve got a whole new crew, a whole new writing staff apart from the head writer. We had to have Kiwi writers because that’s where the money was coming from so you spend it there,” Lawless says. “I was worried about that, but it turned out great tonally, because we got Ebony over to New Zealand, which was no mean feat. That’s the heart of the show, so it worked out really beautifully.
“Actually, it translates very well and it’s a new city, and the city’s a character in our show, but she’s a beauty and I’m really happy to welcome people to my hometown.”
There is no mystery to why New Zealand native Lawless is happy to be facing another season of solving crimes as she is teaming with a strong partner and dealing with fun tales of murder in a place very familiar to her.