Although I’m as excited as the next person about the Brendan Fraseraissance that we’re currently witnessing, I’m also still captivated by the Natasha Lyonnaissance that began a nearly a decade ago and is still kicking. Her role as Nicky Nichols on OITNB may have included some personal touches amid the tough talking, and then Natasha fully seized control of her own destiny with Russian doll while barreling through a topsy-turvy, Groundhog Day-esque world, for which The Atlantic likened her to a “steampunk Columbo.”
Those comparisons (and the Peter Falk-like mannerisms and energy were there) led people to wonder what it might be like to see Natasha in a Columbo reboot. Well, that’s not exactly what’s going on here in Ryan Johnson’s Poker Face series for Peacock, but we can squint hard and imagine it happening because this is a mystery-of-the-week drama revolving around murder. Lyonne’s character is described as (surprise, surprise) “scrappy,” and she may or may not be an outright detective, but “Charlie” does have an uncanny gift (to tell when people are lying), as we hear from Adrien Brody’s apparent slime ball. And from there, Charlie takes off in a Plymouth Barracuda to fall into solving a series of crimes. Again, not-Columbo!
In a statement to Peacock, Rian Johnson explained the show’s inception:
Never underestimate the power of a good dinner conversation between friends. What started as a discussion over steak frites about detective shows and what made them such a reliable pleasure — the exploration of little worlds within each new setting, the guest stars playing killers and victims, and most importantly, a scrappy protagonist you were always ready to kick back with and see win — ultimately resulted in the creation of Charlie, the driving force behind POKER FACE.
Poker Face — which not only features Brody but also Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Barkin, Tim Meadows, Benjamin Bratt, Lil Rel Howery, Tim Blake Nelson (!), and the pair that Natasha can’t quit (Chloë Sevigny and Dascha Polanco) — premieres the first four of ten episodes on January 26.