British crime dramas have a brilliant track record; case in point, Foyle’s War, Marple and more recently The Bletchley Circle. It stands to reason the Aussie’s might too produce quality entertainment (which they do). Joining the British ranks is this all-new Australian series, and features one of the sassiest female detectives you’re likely to ever meet.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Series One (2012) TV Show Review
Returning to Melbourne is not an event Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) expects to be eventful. But somehow it is. No sooner has she set foot on Australian soil than she learns that a dear friend has just lost her husband. What initially looks like a natural cause of death soon reverses to one of suspicion. Called in to investigate is Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) who soon discovers that Phryne’s curiosity and clever ability to see clues doesn’t end with a standard procedure police interview, she becomes a thorn in Jack’s side – the kind that refuses to leave! When the young maid of the house, Dorothy (Ashleigh Cummings) is named the prime suspect in her employer’s murder, Phryne makes it her business to clear the young girl’s name. Over the adamant objections of Jack…
Also playing into Phryne’s first case we meet a young constable (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) who works with DI Robinson, and a victim of a shady abortion clinic who may have ties to the murder case as well as a suspicious drug trade. All of this, Phryne uncovers with Jack one step behind – trying to prove her speculation right (or wrong!) all while keeping the feisty investigator out of trouble.
British drama is a class of its own. Time and again I’m reminded of this and it’s no different as viewers get caught up in the adventures and glamour of Miss Fisher. Seeing this was a long time coming. It’s one of those that I danced around for a long time and finally, I took the plunge and on a Saturday afternoon both my mother and I found out what all the buzz was about. Were I to go with the condensed review, this is nothing short of entertaining albeit featuring certain cases that aren’t always up to snuff. Since I rarely go with the short story, let’s talk about the glitz and glamour that is Miss Fisher.
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Not since Foyle’s War have I met a group of crime-fighters that works so well together; they also work their way into our hearts. This team is far from boring and shares a fantabulous chemistry; from Miss Fisher to the unlucky cab drivers she recruits; and of course, the lovable Dot, this cast of characters leaves a lasting impression. For U.S. aficionados, most of the cast are probably unknowns, but they play each of their respective roles with class and wit. Davis is quite brilliant as the titular character being a warm, kind woman whose household is living proof of this; further proof of this is in the adorable Dot (and her crush on Constable Collins! Can we say cute) to young orphan, Jane. The only quibble I do have with her is the lose morals she practices. Her sass isn’t the problem (that’s infectious), it’s her romantic liaisons that we call into question. Given the time period where being “wild” is a relative term, I can say that it doesn’t “offend” me; however it doesn’t make her dalliances “right” either.
What is also fun to watch are the sparks between Jack and Phryne; their relationship is going to continue to solidify, I suspect, but also a will-they-or-won’t-they potential. This makes for some fun conversations or eye locks while in equal parts frustrates fans who wish for more. Making up for any minor personality trivialities is the opulence of the era. From the rush of motor car rides to the exquisite costumes and of course, the spot-on “mood,” every set affects just the frame of mind audiences should be put into. This is really the quintessential “flapper” era – everything about the production sparkles with personality, constantly transporting to the roaring twenties. Also not bad are the mystery components. Most of the cases build to a spooky climax even if the writing doesn’t always mirror that.
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Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a smart and snazzy production. The 13-episode span is over all too quickly and though it doesn’t insult us with a cliffhanger, it still beckons our return for its eventual second series. As the quip boats, this is both “witty and elegant” same as its darling and feisty heroine. Never has sleuthing been this fun.
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CONTENT: There are two or three instances of partial nudity, multiple implications of unmarried lovers spending the night together [the camera usually cuts away, though not before some clothed foreplay and a post-scene, sheets appropriately placed] as well as some coarse [periodically] sexual conversations. Episodes deal with abortions [off-screen] along with a maid being raped [again, off-camera], drugs and abuse [including flashbacks to one of Phryne’s prior dalliances]. A book on seducing makes the rounds, complete with illustrations and a nude painting. There’s some British slang and plenty of “violence.” Victims are threatened, stabbed, shot and/or poisoned. A TV14 rating would best suit this series.