Year of the Rabbit (2019)

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Amazon Prime’s algorithm recommended Year of the Rabbit (2019) to me recently, and immediately upon realizing Matt Berry starred in it, of course I had to watch it. A longtime fan of Berry’s work in other offbeat, oddball comedies such as Toast of LondonGarth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and of course What We Do in the Shadows (2019-), Rabbit had all the trappings of the irreverent, bawdy, surreal comedy I have come to expect from Berry. That said, it took about an episode or two for me to really get into the show, despite all the things it had going for it. But once I was hooked, I was hooked. Sadly, there is only this one, brief season of six episodes, which sucks, because it had a lot of potential (there are noncommittal sources on the internet that suggest that there might be a second season eventually, but I’m not going to hold my breath).

The show centers around Detective Inspector Eli Rabbit (Berry), a roguish detective for Scotland Yard in gritty 1880s London, and his two unlikely partners — the naive and inexperienced Detective Sergeant Wilbur Strauss (Freddie Fox), and the shockingly worldly Sergeant Mabel Wisbech (Susan Wakoma), adopted daughter of the Chief Inspector and Britain’s first female police officer.

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The trio set forth to solve a series of seemingly unconnected murders with the help of the Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick (played brilliantly by David Dawson, who devours every scene he’s in). A mysterious wealthy woman, Lydia (played by Keeley Hawes) sits at the center of the mysteries that Rabbit and his crew are attempting to unravel.

Joseph Merrick with his backing band. Yes, that is, in fact, a Taika Waititi cameo.

It’s madcap, bizarre, and ridiculously enjoyable. The costume content, however, is pretty basic. But given the fact that this was probably a trial season to see if the show had legs, it’s not too surprising. The three principal characters don’t have any costume changes across the six episodes, though Lydia does get a couple of different frocks.

Keeley Hawes plays Lydia, a mysterious woman whose involvement with the crimes being investigated by Rabbit and his team slowly becomes more apparent.

 

Lydia has the most costume changes in the show.

 

Both Rabbit and Mabel don’t have any significant costume changes throughout the episodes. Mabel wears a fiery orange velvet gown with lace accents, and Rabbit wears a trademark blue wool frock coat.

 

D.S. Strauss isn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch, but he proves exceptionally useful as the show progresses.

 

Jill Halfpenny plays Flora, an old flame of Rabbit’s, who plays a significant part in the … um … climax of the show.

 

Well-known faces such as Alun Armstrong as Chief Inspector Hugh Wisbech show up throughout the show.

All in all, don’t go into watching this expecting high-brow humor or elaborate costumes. Go into it just to enjoy it for what it is: a nice little nose-thumb at the gritty Victorian murder-mystery show.

 

Have you seen Year of the Rabbit (2019)? Tell us about it in the comments!

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

6 Responses

  1. ConsiderTheBees (@Wildfyrewarning)

    “Darkplace” is one of my favorite things, EVER. If you haven’t gotten a chance there is a “directors commentary” of the series that features Barry et al in their roles as the actors/ director. It is truly amazing.

    Reply
  2. Roxana

    That orange dress is ridiculously impractical, but the blue frock coat is almost as silly.

    Reply
  3. florenceandtheai

    To watch on Prime, you need a subscription to BritBox (or one other channel, I don’t remember the name). Both offer 7-day trial periods, so you aren’t signing up for anything permanent. I tried to watch the other day (I adore Matt Berry, go watch What We Do in the Shadows) and couldn’t w/o signing up for an additional channel. Not a complaint, just a heads up.

    Reply
    • Roxana

      That’s right! Mabel should be wearing a crazy hat to go with her crazy dress!

      Reply

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