Poker Face: Dead Man's Hand
January 26, 2023 5:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

When her friend is murdered, Charlie Cale, a woman with a knack for identifying lies, investigates.

Screen Rant - Rian Johnson Wrote Poker Face Episode 1 Before Glass Onion

Collider - Rian Johnson Talks 'Poker Face,' the Insane Guest Cast, and 'Columbo' Inspiration:
COLLIDER: Were there things that [Natasha Lyonne] specifically brought to the character, that you hadn’t even thought about, that made it so specifically and uniquely suited to her? It really does feel like there couldn’t be a more perfect character for her?

JOHNSON: That makes me happy. My intent, from the beginning, was to make this show like a perfectly tailored suit for her. But at the same time, and this goes back to the shows I grew up watching, when I think about, for instance, Columbo, I don’t really watch Columbo for the mysteries. You watch it to hang out with Peter Falk, really. And so, the notion was that we’re constructing a character where the whole draw of the show is that you want to come back every week and hang out with her and see her win. Part of what Natasha and I found, as we were figuring this character out, and this was a big revelation for Natasha, was that, “Oh, this character really likes people. That’s a new thing for me. This is a whole new type of character that I’ve never played before.” There’s something that we discovered in the mixture of that essentially curious about people and likes them sunniness combined with the natural, hard-edged thing that Natasha brings to it. You put those two things together, and I just fell in love with the character, as I saw it come to life. That’s really when I thought, “I think we might really have something here.”

Den of Geek - How Poker Face Solves a Modern Day Detective Show Problem: When something gets in the way of Charlie Cale encountering a mystery on Poker Face, the show just wisely takes it away.
posted by oh yeah! (41 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I love everything about this show and I'm not apologizing for it. I love Natasha Lyonne but she's perfect here and I like that Charlie has nothing to lose, honestly, but she's still herself. She's a good person to solve mysteries because she's curious and people underestimate her. Sure, she can tell when people are lying but that doesn't seem like a superpower so much as it's just a matter of perception.

It's also fun to see a 40something woman (although Charlie's age is ambiguous, sure) just ... exist. No one (at least so far) is making a big deal of her age. She's just herself. I like that she just gets to exist, even within this whole weirdness.
posted by edencosmic at 5:13 PM on January 26 [12 favorites]

I didn't realize they were setting up for an "on the run" show. Natasha Lyonne as the 'The Fugitive/Incredible Hulk' good deed-doing lone drifter is delightful.

I thought this was going to be 1-episode-a-week drop on Peacock, was surprised to find that they've dropped the first 4 episodes altogether. I don't think I'll watch more than one a night -- I want to savor these (also, Peacock's ads get more annoying the longer the binge), whoever wants to post more threads, please go ahead.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:30 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

I'm absolutely loving this "The Fugitive" meets "Columbo" vibe, but to be fair I will watch her in anything and I mean it as I watched her in Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby. She elevates everything she is in.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:45 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]

I was hoping for more ... Columbo vibes? No way I could watch 4 episodes in one night, it is a little too dark.
posted by armacy at 6:36 PM on January 26

I mean it seems pretty light hearted to me for a show where every episode has a murder.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:53 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

I guess I didn't want an alcoholic Columbo in peril, running for her life, for a season.
posted by armacy at 5:51 AM on January 27

I think it is unusually suited to be watched on a per-episode basis, for a show in 2023. If you binge, you'll make yourself sick.

Anyway, the actual episode! I liked it a lot, real strong start. I was caught off guard a little when we caught back up, did not recognise the character I'd just seen die and thought that I was just being face-blind because she sure looked familiar. I also liked that the setup to the series is as a consequence of working out this murder - I liked the combination of "smarter than she gets credit for" and "not smart enough to see the counter-punch coming".
posted by Merus at 6:16 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]

the combination of "smarter than she gets credit for" and "not smart enough to see the counter-punch coming

This right here is absolutely the best thing about the character. I found it immensely funny that she spends most of the episode stressing out about the potential threat presented to her by her boss and his father, comes up with a genuinely elegant and devastating maneuver to (1) avenge her friend and hopefully (2) extricate herself from an untenable situation, but is entirely unprepared for the blowback of the boss' suicide, leading to what was for me the biggest laugh in the show, her incredulous "What??!!?" when Benjamin Bratt starts shooting at her in the hallway.

Perfect! No notes.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:22 AM on January 27 [13 favorites]

And also...where is "alcoholic" coming from? I didn't see any evidence of that.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:23 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing from the fact that her breakfast is a beer from a cooler and after that we pretty much consistently see her drinking beer. When she is waiting for Adrien Brody in the crow's nest, we see the silhouette of three beers to indicate time has passed. I can see where someone could get functional alcoholic from that. But also if I let something like that stop me from watching a show, I'd miss out on awful lot of shows like Supernatural, True Detective, and Russian Doll (another Natasha Lyonne show) all of which i enjoyed. That's part of what made Buffy the Vampire Slayer so unique is that it's one of the few shows in which alcohol played little part and when it did, it was usually in portrayed in an extremely negative way.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:31 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]

Yeah, her thirst for tall boys is more slacker than alkie.
posted by whuppy at 7:39 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]

I absolutely could not stand Russian Doll, but the pitch and Rian Johnson's involvement sucked me in, and this show delighted me. Natasha Lyonne is perfect as Charlie. Yes, once or twice a week is enough for a show like's intense and fun to watch at the same time.
posted by lhauser at 8:07 AM on January 27

I guess I'm the outlier then. I binged all four episodes in a row and would have continued binging had there been more.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:29 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]

What a fantastic first episode! I’ve got family visiting (but in a hotel) otherwise I would binge all four.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:30 AM on January 27

Natasha is perfect, as always. The promo shows an all-star cast, great for a murder a week format. It looks like good once a week fun.

One question. I thought she got shot, are they just waving this off?
posted by Marky at 4:31 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic. They could literally just remake old Columbo episodes with Natasha Lyonne and I would watch them.
posted by snofoam at 5:43 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]

I’m new to peacock (yep, subscribed just for this) — are ad breaks in the middle of episodes normal?

Of the show itself, I loved it! I liked picking up on clues before Charlie did, and the show hit the notes of desert drifter very very well.

The big clue I felt wasn’t accounted for was the blood splatter on the wall. It was pretty clear from how Clint grappled Natalie’s husband that it was being set up as a staged murder-suicide, but it’s hard to imagine how Clint moved the bodies around for the blood on the wall to make sense. Wouldn’t that also imply exit wound/bullet in the wall?

Anyway, there’s enough “my family owns this town” in Frost’s attitude that I’ll believe that the police would have done/not done whatever he asked, so I’m hand waving away any forensic details.
posted by itesser at 7:40 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]

honestly I instantly empathised with Charlie when, as soon as she had a meeting with the boss, she immediately assumed she was about to get fired

my managers have had to be very careful in performance meetings

I don't know why we're like this
posted by Merus at 12:40 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]

Love the 70s TV font.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:21 AM on January 28 [10 favorites]

I’m new to peacock (yep, subscribed just for this) — are ad breaks in the middle of episodes normal?

Peacock seems pretty ad-heavy. I haven't timed it, but I feel like they put in more/longer ad-breaks the longer you binge, but maybe it just feels that way because of the repetition of ads. But maybe I don't have the premium premium-paid plan? I have some kind of premium subscription (got the 3rd Psych movie when it's still behind the paywall for my friend with the free Peacock plan), but it came with my cable package and not a separate charge.

Anyway, yeah, the ads are another reason I tend not to binge too many Peacock shows in a row.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:02 AM on January 28

Yeah I think the wound was just a graze, 2nd episode covers it more.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:16 AM on January 28

Love the 70s TV font.

Not just the font (some form of eurostyle/microgramma i think) but the whole typography of the opening credits is pretty spot-on for a 70’s-era show. The yellow type (always yellow!) with a slight black drop-shadow. Everything set FL/RR or RL/FR, except the show and episode titles, which are set centered.

The real telling little detail (which i absolutely geeked over, because it showed someone was paying attention) is the show title. You see “POKER FACE” in big type, and underneath the title, in tiny type, is the copyright notice. For me, as someone who watched these shows in the 70’s, it’s a detail that makes me go from “I see what they’re going for there” to “Nailed it!” My typographer’s heart so appreciates the little details.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on January 28 [21 favorites]

I am more of a Murder, She Wrote girl than a Columbo fan, but I squealed at the opening credits font over that gloriously tacky carpet. (nitter link to same)

Extremely here for the further adventures of Charlie Cale. Hoping Noah Segan's hapless cop was not a one off. I would also be amused if something were to come of her emails to, or

(Can we get an episode where she swings through Neptune, CA? I feel like Charlie Cale and Veronica Mars would be a hilarious odd couple.)
posted by the primroses were over at 6:45 AM on January 28 [13 favorites]

I don't know what it was called in the US, but in the UK in the early seventies, that whole strand of movies (Columbo, Banacek, Macmillan and Wife, The Snoop Sisters, McCloud, etc) were on ITV as The Mystery Movie and although I've been clamouring for a long time for a reboot of Columbo with Natasha Lyonne, this is much better - something of its own that would fit right in with the other Mystery Movies. Not just the credits, but the whole mise-en-scene is perfect.
posted by Grangousier at 1:01 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, the other thing I wanted to mention was that the Fugitive scenario was widely (over)used to drive TV series in the early 70s, so that might be another knowing allusion. Even the Planet of the Apes series was basically a retooled Fugitive. I remember Harlan Ellison writing about it, but I'm not sure where (I think it was too late for the original Glass Teat essays).
posted by Grangousier at 2:03 PM on January 28

Oooh, I'm liking this. Natasha Lyonne playing a little out of type.
posted by porpoise at 5:29 PM on January 28

I’m new to peacock (yep, subscribed just for this) — are ad breaks in the middle of episodes normal?

Peacock’s model (as with Paramount Plus and Hulu) is more “network TV over the top” than the Netflix/HBO ad free model. It’s probably what will wind up being the more sustainable model too, given how the ad-free streamers are adding advertising-supported tiers and slashing costs.

But, on the other hand, the ad breaks fall where ad breaks would have fallen if this was airing OTA 25 years ago.

On the gripping hand, we’ve watched a few movies (Nope is on there, e.g.) and they usually front load the ads so that the movie shows all the way through. Which is appreciated!
posted by thecaddy at 6:05 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]

I'm watching it on an Australian service; Peacock doesn't operate here so they cheerfully sold the rights to a service that only operates locally, a thing I wish Hulu would consider
posted by Merus at 12:33 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]

so that might be another knowing allusion

The show really lampshades this... early in the episode Charlie and her friend are watching "Pulp Fiction" right at the moment of Sam Jackson's "walk the earth" speech, which references "Kung Fu" as the exemplar.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:18 AM on January 29 [9 favorites]

My favorite shout out was to Michael Weston of Burn Notice.
posted by whuppy at 9:49 AM on January 29 [14 favorites]

My favorite shout out was to Michael Weston of Burn Notice.

It is somehow far more believable to me than someone can be 100 percent accurate with knowing when people lie than there exists anyone -- up to and including the guy who played Michael Weston of Burn Notice -- who would fall back to "Michael Weston of Burn Notice" as their reference for a detective.
posted by Etrigan at 6:33 PM on January 29 [11 favorites]

Other US viewers: do you get (really bad) compression artifacts for a minute or so after the ad breaks? I get this on all of Peacock. I fucking hate it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:53 PM on January 29

Added bonus for me: my tv had updated itself and reverted to default settings so the motion smoothing gave the show the shot on videotape effect that so many tv shows in the 70s possessed. This does seem more pronounced on Peacock shows.
posted by coldhotel at 6:40 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]

I absolutely died at the end when Charlie adds "," clearly remembering she's been told the casino owns the police in this town. And then she goes back and throws in "" just in case.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:30 AM on January 30 [9 favorites]

This is gonna get me to subscribe to Peacock, isn’t it.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:54 AM on January 30

This is gonna get me to subscribe to Peacock, isn’t it.

I also recommend the delightful The Amber Ruffin Show, Girls5Eva, and Killing It.
posted by Etrigan at 9:01 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]

Amber Ruffin has a delicious cameo in 'Girls5Eva' (which is kind and hilarious).
posted by porpoise at 10:31 AM on January 30

I do find it annoying that even with premium ("ad-free") Peacock, some shows have ads. But this show is worth it. The typeface for the titles does not just evoke Columbo, it completely duplicates Columbo. Which I respect. It's a love letter to all of us (so many of us) who got through the pandemic watching old Columbo reruns.
posted by rikschell at 5:37 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

early in the episode Charlie and her friend are watching "Pulp Fiction" right at the moment of Sam Jackson's "walk the earth" speech, which references "Kung Fu" as the exemplar.

The funny thing is, I didn't even listen to the dialogue in the Pulp Fiction clip--I just took it as a high-quality exemplar of a film with scenes shown out of chronological order that eventually balance out and connect, which was exactly what Poker Face does. I felt like it was audience reassurance of a sort.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:08 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]

Laughlin, NV. That's where the exteriors were filmed. The Frost Casino exterior itself is the Riverside Casino & Resort. That strange "skyline" with like 3 big buildings and a lot of empty alkali desert is Laughlin. I find that part of America magnetic, so desolate and corrupted. It was an evocative setting. The show itself was mostly filmed in New York, at various places in the Hudson Valley, but they went to Laughlin for that magnificent exterior.

Enjoyed the show. It's nice to watch something so very beautifully produced, like a precise movie. But with the lightness of an hour long episodic TV show.
posted by Nelson at 7:33 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

I don't know what it was called in the US, but in the UK in the early seventies, that whole strand of movies (Columbo, Banacek, Macmillan and Wife, The Snoop Sisters, McCloud, etc) were on ITV as The Mystery Movie

We had The NBC Mystery Movie
posted by eckeric at 1:50 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

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