Created by Marcy Holland
After the previous week’s disappointing premiere of Francesca Quinn, P.I., the Girl Detective and I warily turned into the premiere of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths” with more than a little trepidation.
Another pilot (I think) for a proposed string of TV movies, it starred Hunter King and Rhiannon Fish as NIKKI and NORA SULLIVAN, two estranged fraternal (but not identical) twins who are reunited when they inherit a Bucktown detective agency from Charlie Porter, who seems to be a complete stranger. Neither of them recalls ever meeting him.
But then, the sisters are also strangers to each other—they haven’t seen each other for ten years, ever since they were seventeen, and their parents were killed in a home invasion. Shortly after, the always impulsive Nikki, left for New York City to purse her dreams of being an actress, leaving Nora, the sensible one, behind.
Determined to survive on her own, Nora stayed put and made it through law school, and became a criminal defense attorney at a decent-sized Chicago law firm, and tentatively dating a young rookie detective, Robby Watts. Meanwhile, Nikki ended up wandering the country, always chasing her dream, looking for the elusive part that would make her a star, and not exactly setting the world on fire. And just to underline their differences, Nora’s dark-haired, buttoned down and neatly groomed, and Nikki is blonde and generally casually dressed—or at least by Hallmark standards. Hair colour is very important on Hallmark.
This had so many ways to go sideways, dissolving into yet another unbridled attempt to milk the formula, but whoever was in charge held firmly onto the reins. The sisters’ differences were clear—pitting “wild child” Nikki versus “responsible” Nora—but they weren’t taken to cartoonish extremes. Rather, they seemed like the sort of differences one would expect from two adults who had lived very different lives. Likewise, the mystery (the murder of Nora’s mentor, George Bolton, one of Chicago’s top lawyers) was a fair one with just enough clues to make it credible, and the plot strayed enough from the usual shenanigans to actually engage, helped along from a little unexpected darkness and character depth neither of us saw coming.
Even the cutie-pie naming of the sisters was handled well, and avoided the expected info dump. When the penny drops and Nora’s friendly neighbourhood bartender is about to remark on the two twins’ names, instead of the expected explanation (yadayadahammettthethinmanyadayada), Nora simply remarks “Yeah, I know. I’ve heard all the jokes.”
Because, when you have to explain a joke (see below), it ain’t funny.
All in all, a pleasant surprise. It’s fluff, but that’s part of the charm. The Girl Detective and I agreed—we’d watch another one. And I’d really like to know who this mysterious Charlie guy is…
WE GET IT! WE GET IT!
Just to make clear: Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths is not to be confused with:
- Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, a a 2008 romcom, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, based on the 2006 YA novel of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
- Nikki and Nora, a 2004 TV movie about two female partners (and lovers) in the Special Crimes Unit of the New Orleans police department. Which was spun off to:
- Nikki and Nora: The N&N Files, a series of seven full-length web movies that sprouted from the 2004 movie, recasting the the couple as private eyes, still in New Orleans.
THE TV MOVIES
- NIKKI & NORA: SISTER SLEUTHS
(2022, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
Created by Marcy Holland
Written by Marcy Holland
Starring Hunter King as NIKKI SULLIVAN
and Rhiannon Fish as NORA SULLIVAN
With Madison Smith as Robby Watts
Also starring Tina Grant, Mila Jones, Angela Nisheeta, Bronwen Smith
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.