Rian Johnson released his “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” film on Netflix last week, the first of two planned sequels to his 2019 murder mystery whodunnit “Knives Out” which offers a modern spin on the Agatha Christie formula.
Before he delivers a third “Knives Out” film, he’s got the Peacock series “Poker Face” on the way – a not dissimilar murder mystery/detective procedural that this time delivers a modern take on beloved character-driven TV mystery procedurals, including “Murder, She Wrote” and especially “Columbo”.
Like “Columbo” or more recent series like “Luther,” this will adopt a case-of-the-week inverted detective story format, better known as the ‘howcatchem’ formula. For those unfamiliar, it’s the opposite of a whodunnit as the audience is aware of the perpetrator of the crime from the get-go. The joy is in the investigation and figuring out the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ as opposed to the ‘who’.
Natasha Lyonne leads the series as Charlie Cale, a woman who travels the road in a Plymouth Barracuda and boasts an innate and extraordinary ability – she can immediately tell when someone is lying. It’s a skill she can’t help but put to use solving strange crimes.
Speaking with Empire, Lyonne says the series relates to her own interests:
“I really love the accidental detective, You know, the person who stumbles into a life of solving things just because their brain works that way.”
Johnson meanwhile explains how Charlie’s ability led to a major challenge when writing the series:
“It presented an interesting obstruction in the writing process: how is it not over in the first five minutes of talking to the person? [Charlie] gives this monologue in the pilot about how people are constantly lying. You have to pay attention to why the person is lying about that specific thing.”
Like those old procedurals, the series boasts an impressive cast list of guest stars across its ten episodes, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adrien Brody, Ron Perlman, Nick Nolte, Ellen Barkin, Benjamin Bratt, Chloe Sevigny, Hong Chau, Luis Guzman, David Castaneda, Lil Rel Howery, Tim Meadows, Stephanie Hsu, Danielle Macdonald, Jameela Jamil, Charles Melton, Judith Light, S. Epatha Merkerson and Tim Blake Nelson.
“Poker Face” will premiere exclusively on Peacock with four episodes releasing on January 26th, followed by the remaining six streaming weekly from February 2nd through until March 9th.