Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 1

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 1 (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page), Dot (Ashleigh Cummings), Detective Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 02/24/2012 to 05/18/2012 (in Australia)
DVD Date: 03/26/2013

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 706 minutes

Note(s): Based on a character created by Kerry Greenwood.

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Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 1

Review: This Australian crime drama is based on a character created by Kerry Greenwood, with eleven of the thirteen episodes adapted from the books in the series. Anyone who has read these mysteries which I have not all, but several over the years will suspect that casting would be the key to success here. And I'm pleased to report that the casting is nearly ideal. Essie Davis makes for a terrific Phyrne Fisher, a lady detective in 1920s Melbourne. It's only when she's being playful fortunately, not that often is there a disconnect with the character from the books. The literary Phyrne is playful in an adult sort of way; the television Phryne is more childish and silly. It took me a little while to warm up to Nathan Page as DI Jack Robinson; he isn't quite the mental image I have of him from the books but I think his portrayal works here, especially as a balance to Phryne. What I found surprising is how charming and endearing the two primary supporting characters are: Ashleigh Cummings as Dot and Hugo Johnstone-Burt as DC Collins. In the books they have a role, often a minor one, and they tend to fade into the background given how flamboyant Phryne is. Here, on television, they are an integral part of the cast and they're a delight to watch.

For those episodes adapted from the books, the screenplays stay reasonably true to the storyline. The mysteries themselves aren't too demanding, either on screen or in the books. This series, to be sure, is more about character than plot. Still, the stories are well structured and paced and give the viewer a lot to watch in an episode's average 60 minute or so time frame.

The producers have done a terrific job in recreating 1920s Melbourne and the show has a great look to it. The first two or three episodes cover Phyrne's arrival in the city, have her setting up a house in a fashionable district, and establishing relationships with her staff, local family, and friends. There is also an underlying mystery that spans the entire season: what happened to Phryne's younger sister, who went missing when she was a child.

This is a wonderful series, one that I strongly recommend. Airing originally in Australia during Spring 2012, it has been renewed for a second season.

Rating

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Watch a trailer for the series below:

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