Does Downton Abbey have you hungry for more period drama? Do you wish it had more murder, perhaps a little less polish, and a lot more sass? Are you crazy about Agent Carter, but wish it had a bit more sex-appeal? If you answered yes to any of these questions, now is the time to use your winter-imposed inside time to check out Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
This Australian television series is actually based on a book series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood. Admittedly I haven’t read the series, so I can’t speak directly on whether the television series holds up to the books. But in researching more about this show I have read that it does and that the book’s author is very pleased with the adaptation. So if you like the show, maybe file the book info away for future beach reads (despite the current frozen tundra we all live in, I am assuming summer will happen).
Set in 1920’s Melbourne, Phryne Fisher is a single female detective whose fashion is as sharp as her wit (and mine…ho ho!). It’s like Murder, She Wrote and Downton Abbey had a rambunctious teenage daughter who not only wears pants and drives her own car, but also carries a pearl handled pistol and collects male admirers like they are the finest of hats. It’s that second point that has raised the hackles of some Netflix reviewers. According to these folks because she is a sexually active single woman, Miss Fisher is a tramp. This consequently ruins their enjoyment of the show. Since I am recommending this show to you, I had no such experience (I also think that’s a ridiculous assessment). Miss Fisher owns her behavior, she’s clever, hardworking, caring, and hot. Why should she have to behave like a nun to be taken seriously as a detective or even be considered likable?
Like many mystery based shows the episode structure is largely “murder of the week” type stuff, with Miss Fisher either stumbling across crimes, or being brought in as a consultant, like a more carefree and socially savvy Sherlock Holmes. While she doesn’t really have a “Watson” per se, she does have a team of trusted colleagues who help in investigations. She also habitually partners with restrained police Detective Jack Robinson on most if not all of her cases, and oh the sexual tension! Note, this doesn’t stop dear Phryne from having other romantic partners, a point that those in the “Miss Fisher is a Tramp” camp gleefully point out. Despite the time period it’s set in, this show is rather progressive in its relationships, if not still lacking in racial diversity. Miss Fisher’s best friend is a female physician, who is also a lesbian. And I’m not really sure about the relationship between Cec and Burt (two taxi drivers who are often called in on some of the more unsavory aspects of Phryne’s investigations) , but they are rarely seen apart from each other. This makes for a fun cast of supporting characters, but Miss Fisher is still the shiniest of the bunch.
The first two series (seasons) of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are available on Netflix and a third is currently being worked on.
ADDED NOTE: Season 3 of Miss Fisher is on Netflix as of September 15,2015.
Fun Fact: Miss Fisher is played by Essie Davis, who also played the haggard mother in the Australian horror movie, The Babadook. If you like horror, The Babadook is a film worth checking out.