NEW YORK — Detectives in the new crime drama series “Ragdoll” uncover a grisly scene early in the first episode: a serial killer has assembled parts of six of his victims into one hideous body.
Naturally, they swear to find this madman and bring him to justice. But first, they really, really want the chance to officially name this gruesome sewer of bodies.
“Loco Chanel? suggest a detective.
“Tommy Kill Figer? comes another option.
“Michael Korpse?” is a third.
The fact that the awful is mixed with wickedly dark humor and banal workplace politics makes “Ragdoll” one of the most interesting TV offerings this fall. The streaming series, from the executive producers of “Killing Eve,” debuts Thursday on AMC+.
Lucy Hale, who previously starred in ‘Pretty Little Liars’, was immediately drawn to what she calls the ‘genre mix’ of ‘Ragdoll’.
“A lot of times you’re like, ‘Well, how is this going to work? How will humor and horror work? And it kind of is. That’s what really stood out to me,” she says.
The series features a trio of actors: Henry Lloyd-Hughes plays Detective Nathan Rose, an English officer recovering from PTSD triggered by another case; Thalissa Teixeira as a boss and romantic interest; and Hale, playing an American detective assigned to the hunt.
Lloyd-Hughes calls them an “uncomfortable triangle of detectives”. Both his character and Teixeira’s changed mentor-mentee positions as he recovered and there’s a lingering attraction, “a kind of can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other.” ‘other-kind of co-dependency.'” Hale as an outsider is “probably the closest thing we have in the public eye,” he says.
The so-called Ragdoll Killer – as the serial killer is known, much to the frustration of several detectives’ egos – taunts the police by sending them a list of his next six victims, with Rose’s name among them.
The London-based series has all the elements of a typical police procedural – the list of victims, the race against time, the autopsy clues, the serial killer one step ahead – but also thorny personal relationships and frustration at work. The show also explores racism, sexism, injustice, and mental health.
“The horror element – or whatever you want to call those parts of the show – is spectacular and it’s kind of a visual fear party. But I strangely think that if you took all that out, you’d still have really complex, rich drama,” says Lloyd-Hughes.
“You could make the six bodies sewn into one and the serial killer disappear, and I honestly think you’d still be interested in how these characters talk to each other.”
It begins two years after a killer tracked by Lloyd-Hughes was freed over a technicality, sparking a violent altercation that resulted in the detective being sent to a mental institution. The Ragdoll investigation is complicated by a connection to this old case.
The series is adapted by Freddy Syborn from the book of the same name by British novelist Daniel Cole and crackles with wit. When Teixeira’s detective first approaches the scene of the Ragdoll murder, she asks how bad it is. “I’m going to make a podcast of it,” an officer replies curtly.
Hale welcomes the humor, saying that without it it can get too dark. “As human beings, that’s how we go through life – we have to shine a light on things. Otherwise, how would we survive? Life would just be too much.
Teixeira agrees, saying she was wary of the violence at first, but was eventually drawn to the writing: “I think it’s darker than ‘Killing Eve,’ but maybe also be more naturalistic,” she says. “It was just very, very clear that was exactly my kind of humor.”
As for how the Ragdoll Killer got its name, it turns out that a police technician – one of them asked to run the projector during a meeting – blurted out his catchy suggestion during a meeting. a meeting and a superior officer accepts it.
“Are you kidding? HE can name our grisly discoveries?” complained Rose.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits