The name’s Frankie, Frankie Drake, not Murdoch

Sure, Frankie Drake Mysteries is from the same producer and same channel as Murdoch Mysteries, but it’s a very different show, Lauren Lee Smith assures.

Lauren Lee Smith, front, as detective Frankie Drake and Chantel Riley as her sidekick Trudy. (CBC)

There are big hopes brewing for CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries.

For one thing, the show, about Toronto’s only female private detective in the 1920s, is brought to you by Shaftesbury, the same production company behind the long-running Murdoch Mysteries.

Murdoch (starring Yannick Bisson) is in its 11th season and executives hope that Frankie Drake (debuting Monday at 9 p.m.) will be the perfect complement for Downton Abbey-deprived Canadian and international audiences ever more receptive to shows set in turn-of-the-century Toronto.

The Murdoch Mysteries DNA in Frankie runs deep: it is executive-produced by Shaftesbury’s Christina Jennings, and created by Murdoch Mysteries writers Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci. Cal Coons, the showrunner, is one of the original producers of Murdoch.

Pinning the show together is Lauren Lee Smith (The Listener, This Life) who stars as motorcycle-riding detective Drake, for whom gender turns out to be her biggest advantage. The Star caught up with Smith to ask her about TV’s newest detective.

Viewers will tune in because they’re going to expect perhaps something with the sensibility of a Murdoch Mysteries. Is Frankie Drake a female Murdoch?

Murdoch has been so insanely successful. I think, certainly, they wanted a show that came after Murdoch to keep that viewership going and appeal to that same audience. But it’s really not a female Murdoch. It’s a completely unique show. I think in many ways it is a very different show. It’s set in a different time (30 years after Murdoch), and Frankie has a very different personality and skill set.