Why you should be watching The Mallorca Files
Brendon Connelly | On 01, Feb 2021
The philosophy behind The Mallorca Files is perfectly reflected in its scheduling. This crime drama is almost definitively a daytime show for the coldest months of the year – sun-soaked escapism blending cosy mystery tropes with romanticism and light comedy. There’s a likeable, international cast, with a lead pair of police partners (Elen Rhys as the British Miranda and Julian Looman as the German Max) riffing gently on the familiar old uptight-vs-laidback-crime-solving-couple routine of something like Moonlighting. The basics are all so comfy. This is Jacuzzi TV that’s kitsch, glam, warm and bubbly at any time of year.
For many viewers, that would already be enough but, more often than not, The Mallorca Files goes further than what’s strictly necessary. A fine case in point is the opening episode of Season 2, The Maestro. The story begins (and for a good while, continues) as a murder mystery focused on the killing of a thoroughly hateful opera singer. The culmination of the episode is rather more sophisticated and surprising – not to mention moving – than its initial set-up could maybe lead you to believe.
This is precisely how The Mallorca Files manages to sometimes strike a brilliant balance between tea-break entertainment and something more resonant. Scripting daytime TV seems to be a largely thankless task but Dan Sefton and his team absolutely take their swing, episode after episode. Kudos to them all.
BBC Daytime have good form here, in fact, with the delightful Shakespeare and Hathaway also making hay from its mid-afternoon-murder formula, enriching its plots with emotional pay-offs and ambitious grace notes. There’s a reason these shows bag primetime slots in export, and have dedicated followings that catch up via BBC iPlayer and BritBox.
Where The Mallorca Files leapfrogs its daytime stablemates is in its action. Mostly this amounts to on-foot chases around the picturesque island of the title, of which the show has plenty – including a neat twist in one Season 2 episode with a tuk tuk and the Calvari Steps. There’s also messing about with horses, lasso stunts, fast cars on jaw-droppingly winding roads, and a splendid bit of silliness with slow-motion that pays off a poisoning plotline.
Some of these images are striking enough that they’ve been recreated in animation for the show’s new opening titles, and set to an absolute earworm of a theme tune. You might pick up some minor James Bond influences in the music, among other, more Balaeric elements. (When 007 receives an explicit namedrop in one episode’s script, the score quickly doubles down on the allusion.)
There’s a lot of nodding to other genres and classic movies, in fact. The sixth and final episode of the pandemic-truncated sophomore run is The Outlaw Jose Rey, a tribute to Westerns that closes on a Butch and Sundance-style freeze-frame in sepia. These references are another clue, I think, that the programme’s makers are keen to fill the show with added value by bringing to the table, with imagination and determination, what the daytime budget is not able to.
While we wait to see how the TV production landscape changes over the coming months, there are plenty of questions about BBC Daytime’s rotating calendar of mystery shows. The Mallorca Files has come along a little later than originally planned, and with a lower episode count too, but it’s a great relief to see it arrive. Here’s hoping that a third season proves possible soon.
The Mallorca Files: Season 1 and 2 is available on BBC iPlayer.