Darby and Joan

Do you remember A Town like Alice with Bryan Brown? If the actor in one of my most beloved stories is in a new Acorn TV show, you can bet I’m watching. Darby and Joan won’t disappoint. The premise is great—and so is the bond of friendship.

First, the premise. Co-protagonist Joan Kirkhope chats by phone with her longtime husband, Ian. All is well between this couple, we think, until he tells her where he is. He says he’s in their favorite bar in Spain. But we see where he stands: in a deserted stretch of Australian Outback.

Next thing Joan learns is that Ian’s been found dead—not in Spain.

Questions penetrate her grief. Why in the world was Ian not where he said he was? Questions beget questions, and soon Joan arrives at the worst question of all: Did she even know her husband?

Joan leaves Britain and her life to begin a grand Outback adventure. She drives a motorhome from point to beautiful point to solve her painful questions. Of course, soon she meets this guy named Darby and his dog Diesel, and this odd couple—a retired detective and a retired nurse—work to find answers.

What’s really beautiful is their friendship. Late in the game, I learned that the English phrase “Darby and Joan” means a “loving, virtuous married couple.” This phrase signals, indeed, their relationship. It’s beautiful—and oh, so refreshing how these two strangers build a connection that grows and grows. They respect each other, tease each other, and challenge each other.

And that Joan? She has such friendly pep. I wanted her to be my best friend. Award-winning Italian-Australian actor Greta Scacchi plays Joan in all her spirited, middle-aged splendor. Brown plays an aging Darby with his usual subtle and grounded acting.

The eight-part series is a bit of a cozy mystery. The intensity is low, and there’s some fun on the way. The characters grapple with the complexity of life as aging adults—and show the value of true and holy friendship. (ACORN TV)

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