Thursday, 31 May 2012

TV review: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

I only realised yesterday that I had missed out on a major reviewing opportunity. For the last 13 weeks I have been obsessed with a TV show and I haven’t mentioned it to anyone! I haven’t even tweeted about it. For 13 weeks Friday nights were about me, a glass of wine, the couch and Miss Phryne Fisher.

The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries (formerly of ABC1 Fridays at 8:30pm) are set in late 1920s Melbourne. Based accurately on the novels of the same name by Kerry Greenwood, it follows the adventures of lady-detective Phyrne Fisher as she moves effortlessly between Melbourne’s high society and criminal underbelly. Assisting (or hampering) Detective Inspector Jack Robinson in his investigations, Phryne collects along the way a band of waifs and strays including a companion with a lot to learn about life, an impeccable butler, a daughter and a couple of proper Aussie blokes with their hearts in the right place.

I read the first novel in the series – and the TV series – many years ago. I enjoyed it and I considered buying other Phryne Fisher mysteries but I’m not much of a mystery reader. I’m not even much of a mystery watcher. I’m so fussy and particular about my murder mysteries; I only like historical TV series like Miss Fisher and all of the Miss Marples, set pre-1960s. It might have something to do with the PG violence and the clothes. 

There is so much to love about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. On a purely practical level, it’s well-researched and shot immaculately in and around period Melbourne. Essie Davis as personifies Phryne Fisher and she is supported by a wonderfully Australian cast who are surely enjoying every minute of the production. It’s also delightful to get involved in an Australian TV series. I don’t watch as many as I should. I still regret that I never got into Offspring, I think I would have loved it. 

Back to Miss Fisher. For pure entertainment, it’s a brilliant show. The first word that springs to mind to describe it is Fun. The costumes, sets, characters, writing, all of it is terrific fun. Phryne Fisher is a modern heroine in a modernising time. I would argue, an excellent role model for young women. Having had her fair share of worldly experiences, she’s not going to be stuck in any dull female stereotypes. She’s independent, feisty and not about to be bossed around by anyone. She also has immense style, from her immaculate coiffeur to her crisp white trousers and her pearl-handled gun. I have a little bit of character-envy, if I’m honest.

Sadly, Miss Fisher has ended. There is talk of a second season but I can find no firm information on that. The show was re-played on ABS2 and may still be if you wanted to do some catching up. Otherwise, the DVD of the series is on sale at the ABC shop

This is a great Australian series based on novels by a local writer. It is an absolute delight to watch and I would recommend it to anyone.

All images courtesy of the ABC and Kerry Greenwood.

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