‘Top of the Lake’ Is Top-Notch

Can’t wait till cable’s titillating Sunday primetime? Run out of things to stream on Netflix? Not if you haven’t torn through BBC miniseries Top of the Lake yet. And don’t get turned off by the news that it’s about a detective pushed to her breaking point in investigating a mysterious crime that tears a small, rural community apart—I made it exactly one episode into The Killing before ditching that borefest, so this show must have done something right.

 
It doesn’t hurt that it’s set in New Zealand, either—that accent! Even the American star, Elisabeth Moss (you may remember her from that other TV series that went horribly off the rails halfway through its run? What was that called again? Mad Money?) is flaunting the regionally appropriate vowel sounds, thanks to a full-time dialect coach. Also, I’m still creeped out by almost every scene, especially those featuring the menace of Trainspotting‘s Peter Mullan. Also: pretty mountains to look at.
 
Oh, and how often is a suspenseful, chilling crime plot intercut with scenes at a makeshift women’s commune that operates out of a bunch of shipping containers? With a brutally non-mystic cult leader, played by Holly Hunter, sitting a rocking chair of judgment? That’s what I thought. All in all, it’s a bit like Red Riding 1974, only you keep expecting someone to walk into the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks: enough to keep you busy until Walt and Nucky and Dexter come back.
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