Entertainment

It's fun to watch women run the show on Frankie Drake Mysteries: Schneller

Toronto in the 1920s was only good for certain people, which is why the CBC series gives the overlooked their time in the spotlight.

Trudy (Chantel Riley) goes undercover at a factory in an episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries.

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Trudy (Chantel Riley) goes undercover at a factory in an episode of Frankie Drake Mysteries.

The Show: Frankie Drake Mysteries, Season 1, Episode 2 (CBC)

The Moment: The “communist” meeting

In 1920s Toronto, a factory owner who employs mostly women fears he’s being overrun by communists. He hires a private investigator, Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith, whose shoulders never stop wiggling), to find out. Drake’s P.I. partner Trudy (Chantel Riley) poses as a factory employee, befriends the company chatterbox, Zelda (Zoe Cleland), and attends a meeting of the women’s peace co-operative.

“They’re the agitators Mr. Scanlon was so desperately looking for,” Zelda says, walking home. “They weren’t trying to burn anything down, or ruin society.”

“Just some women who are looking for a better place to work,” Trudy says.

“Their roots are in the suffragette movement,” Zelda says. “Getting the vote was everything to them. Now they’re trying to change the world through peaceful means.”

Later, Zelda bemoans an affair she thought would save her — “All I want is what my mother and grandmother never had: freedom,” she says — and becomes a union organizer. As Frankie says, “Strength in numbers.”

OK, the messaging in this series is sometimes like being hit in the head with a rolling pin. But it’s fun to sit back and watch women in flowy pants, print dresses and head wraps run their own show — Frankie’s team also includes a wise-cracking morgue worker (is there any other kind?), Flo (Sharron Matthews) and a morality cop, Mary (Rebecca Liddiard).

Series creators Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, veterans of Murdoch Mysteries, know that Toronto the Good was only good for certain people. They’re giving the overlooked a chance to sashay.

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