Detective Anna / Анна – Детективъ

Published: August 11, 2019

Detective Anna (Анна – Детективъ) is a Russian mystery/sci-fi TV show, produced by Skyway Productions and Star Media and released on November 7, 2016 on the Russia’s TV-3, which is branded quite similarly to the Sci-Fi Channel in America. In this series, Anna, a 19-year-old girl who acquires an ability to communicate with the dead, uses her talent to solve mysterious crimes in the town of Zatonsk in the 19thCentury.

There are currently 56 episodes, many of which are freely available on YouTube. With its interesting plot and great production, the show won the “Best TV Series (more than 24 episodes)” in 2017, awarded by the Association of Professional Film and Television Producers.

Watch the first episode of the series (On YouTube, in Russian with English subtitles):

For more information, check out the show’s official site:

 

Synopsis

The series begins with Anna Mironova, played by Alexandra Nikiforova, dreaming of a drowned girl, who looks exactly like her, emerging from a river and saying “Death is inevitable.” The next day, her uncle Peter, played by Boris Hvoshnyansky,comes back to the town of Zatonsk after having spent five years in Paris. He appears to speak to ghosts and plans to go to a séance at a friend’s house the next day. Anna gets along really well with Peter and she asks to join him.

Anna bikes to town and almost runs into Yakov Shtolman. As she stops her bike and watches him walk away, she sees a vision of him walking in the same position through a dark hallway. Shtolman, played by Dmitry Frid,is a detective from Saint Petersburg who is transferring to Zatonsk. While waiting in the police station to report to the Chief of Police, he overhears interrogation officer AntonKorobeynikov, played by Sergey Druzyak,questioning a witness of a robbery. After hearing a few answers, he helps the officer realize that the culprit is actually the witness he is questioning. Later, during his talk with the Chief of Police, Shtolman invites Officer Anton to be his assistant.

In the meantime, Anna borrows The Book of the Mediumsfrom Peter, and they talk about how Anna is having visions. Then, a flashback appears, showing Anna as a little girl. Anna sees her grandmother pointing down to a necklace under a table. She goes to get it and gives it to her mother, who asks how she found it. Her response terrifies everyone in the room because her grandmother had already passed away and could not be seen by anyone else. Her mother tries to tell her that lying is bad, and the flashback ends with Peter asking if she actually saw her grandmother or not.

As Shtolman is moving into his new office and talking to Anton, a policeman walks in and reports a case of murder. Shtolman and Anton go to the scene of the incident and find the victim in his house. After observing the scene for a couple minutes, Shtolman deduces to Anton that the murderer must have hit the victim from outside the house. One of the police officers at the scene ask the crowd for the owner of the courtyard behind the victim’s barn and find the murderer among the crowd.

That night, Peter takes Anna with him to the séance. The hostess Tatiana Kuleshova asks Peter to summon the spirit of Marie Lenorman, a French psychic, to ask whether a wish she has made would come true. During the performance, Peter pretends that the spirit of Marie possesses him and speaks about Tatiana’s death. Meanwhile, Anna has a vision of the drowned girl again, saying “Death is inevitable,” although the spirit does not have her face this time.

When Anna and Peter are back home, Anna asks Peter to summon the drowned girl for her. After a couple attempts, the drowned girl appears, and Anna asks her who she is and what she wants. The spirit responds by showing Anna a vision. In it, the girl is walking along a river bank with Peter, and then she falls into the river. Anna, terrified, asks Peter what happened, but he refuses to talk until the next morning.

When Anna wakes up, she finds in The Book of the Mediumsthat she needs to go to the river and submerge a mirror in it to call a spirit of a drowned person. She then bikes to the river, submerges the mirror, and instead of seeing the spirit in the reflection of the mirror like the book says, she sees the corpse of Tatiana, the hostess from the previous night, emerging from the water.

She reports the body to the police and officially introduces herself to Shtolman who comes to investigate. After she leaves, Anton gives Shtolman evidence from the scene: a mirror with the name “Anna Mironova” engraved in the back.

The premiere episode ends with Anna telling Peter what she saw and asking him to explain the situation as he now seems to implicated in two possible murders.

 

Analysis

Featuring a strong female protagonist, Detective Anna definitely rides along the movement of gender equality in media. In contrast to other female characters who always wear elegant dresses, Anna wears mostly trousers and boots, which is not very lady-like in the 19thCentury. Anna’s habit of riding a bike to town is also frowned upon by her mother as being unfeminine.

Detective Anna also reflects well Russia’s long-standing cultural fascination with the supernatural. The entire show is based on the assumption that ghosts and spirits do exist, and that there are certain individuals who can communicate with them. It is also interesting to see the sympathetic relationship between Anna and the spirits, which is usually not the case in a thriller or mystery/sci-fi TV show.

The show’s cinematography is beautifully done. However, audience reviews as a whole are mixed. For example, Alina Bavina (АлинаБавина) from Around the TV(ВокругТВ) gave a very positive review, praising the plot, the setting, and the strong heroine, while EvgenyTkachev (Евгений Ткачёв) from Kino-teatr.ru disliked the dialogues, the character personalities, and what he calls inexplicable plot twists.

Nonetheless, Detective Anna fares really well on IMDb, with the rating of 8.1/10. It also won the “Best TV Series (more than 24 episodes)” award in 2017 by the Association of Professional Film and Television Producers and the Seoul International Drama Awards in the category “Best Actress in a Drama Series,” among others.

Episodes were directed by Felix Gerchikov, Evgeny Semenov, Arthur Romanian, Sergey Mezentsev, Denis Carro, and Vitaly Bordachev.

About the author

Tanya Tanyarattinan

Tanya Tanyarattinan is a third-year, Thai international student at the University of Denver, double majoring in International Studies and Economics with minors in Russian and Japanese. She is currently studying Society, Business, and the Arts in St Petersburg with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship. With an interest in pursuing a career in politics, she travels to see how the world works from different perspectives. Her next stop is Berlin where she will complete her study abroad year. In her free time, she likes to play games and try new food.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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