The Iceman Chronicles is the latest web series from Fox’s online production company 15Gigs. On paper, the premise will sound familiar to anyone who has seen a CBS drama, or the promo for one during football games: Man gets killed in an unusual way. Local law enforcement solves murder, unusually.
Thankfully, we don’t watch shows on paper.
While The Iceman Chronicles focuses around a murder, it’s mostly a comedy. And a funny one. Yes there is some suspense and mystery, but none of that outweighs the quirk of the show. Chronicles is set in the small, eccentric town of Blythe, Arizona where the coroner is also the veterinarian, and the cop at the scene of the murder can’t stop herself from having laughing fits.
The first episode begins with the murder of Saul Miller. He enters his home and, after a veiled exchange, gets stabbed to death with an icicle by, presumably, the Iceman himself. It is a well crafted scene – gripping, tense – but what stands out most is that it’s funny. Like when Saul tells his eventual maker that he’s been to the movies, but after a quick glance at his black eye in the mirror he backtracks to add, “an action movie.”
Enter Russell Coldpalm, an acerbic Joel Fleischman type. Russell is the somewhat clear eyed protagonist of Chronicles. Generally on point when not otherwise distracted by hooking up with the attractive local news reporter Barbie Pedderson. The town seems to rely on him to solve the heinous crime committed, especially the incompetent police department led by a Chief who is a functional alcoholic.
Russell is but one character in a pastiche of personalities that make up the cast. There’s the bearded blind neighbor, Judd who refers to himself as an “ear witness” to the crime. And there’s Tommy and his brutish surveilling father who both have a watchful interest in the murder case, at least when they aren’t being distracting by their wife and mother’s homemade smoothies.
Each characters’ storyline spins out of this one violent and mysterious murder executed using the same M.O. as a string of violent deaths in the town twenty-five years ago. The killer stabs his victims using a sharp piece of ice that melts away any prints under the hot Arizona sun. It’s the perfect murder.
The Iceman Chronicles is a pleasant reminder of the quirky crime-fixated cult hit Picket Fences of the 1990’s. Similar to that show, Chronicles is about a small, quirky town that has to handle a ghoulish circumstance. It says something that such a series, and its hard to fit premise, has all but vanished from prime time lineups only to reemerge populating the internet.
So, when you want to watch a compelling drama that isn’t derivative of CSI, look no further than the web.