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Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series 1

Release Year:         2011
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         4 / 13
Running Time:         706 minutes
DVD Release Date:         March 26, 2013
Creator:         Kerry Greenwood
Screenwriters:         Deb Cox
Directors:         Tony Tilse
Actors:         Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Ashleigh Cummings
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         10/10

Acorn Media Write-up:
In 1920s Melbourne, the Honorable Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”) is a thoroughly modern woman operating in a mostly male world. The glamorous “lady detective” goes about her work with a pistol close at hand – and, more often not, a male admirer even closer.

To the dismay of Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page, “The Secret Life of Us”), Phryne’s investigations take her through back alleys, jazz clubs, and shady neighborhoods. Ignoring the dangers all around her, she glides through life determined to enjoy every moment. But beneath her devil-may-care attitude, Phryne hides ghosts from the past that continue to haunt her.

Gorgeously costumed and evocatively shot, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries also stars Hugo Johnstone-Burt (“Cloudstreet”), Ashleigh Cummings (“Tomorrow, When the War Began”), Miriam Margoyles (“Little Dorrit”), and Nicholas Bell (“Shine”). Miranda Otto (“The Lord of the Rings”) guest stars.

BONUS: The look of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (19 min.), meet the creators (5 min.), set tour (4 min.), cast interviews (8 min.), and more.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
Every time another detective series comes out from Acorn Media it begs the question: “Can this be as good as—?” (Fill in the blank with “Midsomer Murders”, “Trial & Retribution”, “George Gently”, etc.) The short answer with MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES is a resounding “YES!”

While there are many points in common with any murder mystery–there is at least one murder, for starters – there are always going to be details that distinguish the stand outs of this genre. To begin with here, there is Essie Davis.

Ms. Davis exudes sex appeal the way Greta Garbo did. And Jean Harlow. Actually, Essie Davis is a sort of hybrid of the two with Garbo’s mystery and aloofness combined with Harlow’s earthy sexiness. Though often refined, like Garbo, Davis is also unabashedly reckless at times, with a live-life-to-the-fullest joie de vivre that is immensely appealing, even when we lose count of how many lovers she has in the course of thirteen episodes. (Shocking!)

The attention to period detail rivals “Poirot”, the cleverness of the scripts reminds of “Midsomer Murders” and the acting is as good as any of them.

What is particularly noteworthy is the abundance of strong female characters. While in some hands this might come across as “making a statement”, here it is simply a natural progression of the premise. Miss Phryne (pronounced FRY-nee) Fisher is a woman of considerable wealth who has come up in the world from having nothing. She has suffered tragedy, been abused and seen and served in the Great War and is the stronger and wiser for it. Haunted by the unexplained loss of her younger sister years before, Phryne shows no bitterness. Rather, she masks her vulnerability with abundant generosity and acts of kindness. The way she refers to her personal maid, Dot, as her “companion” for example, erases all consciousness of the class system, which is so strongly evident in most period pieces.

Dot is a delight, a stark contrast to her employer in terms of innocence and experience, yet she holds her own in a tight spot and frequently justifies Miss Fisher’s absolute trust in her. The relationship is not unlike Holmes and Watson in some ways and is a delight to behold as it develops throughout the first series.

At the time of this writing, a second series is being filmed, so there is much more to look forward to in this beautifully-produced Australian program. And there is much to love about Miss Fisher, too, though when she tilts her head and gives you the eye, you’ll likely begin by being flat-out smitten.

Here’s to a long and entertaining relationship.

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