Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries 1
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Based on the novels by Kerry Greenwood
“A blockbuster hit” —The Sydney Morning Herald
“Witty and elegant” —The Australian
Seen on public television
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 than 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 Margolyes (Little Dorrit), and Nicholas Bell (Shine). Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings) guest stars.
Contains violence, coarse language, nudity, sexual situations, and drug use
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Imagine my joy when, through the miracle of Roku and an Acorn Premium membership, Miss Fisher's Mysteries showed up as a January-February offering and I realized that this was indeed MY Phryne! I've now, at great sacrifice of housekeeping and household nutrition, watched every episode in Season One. I can, without reservation, hereby pronounce Miss Fisher's Mysteries a triumph!
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation spared no expense in recreating the Melbourne of the late 1920s nor the luxurious accoutrements of Phryne's world from Hispano-Suiza, to steam train, to Phryne's spectacular wardrobe. Essie Davis is perfect; fully portraying the many facets of Phryne, champion of the underdog, sensuous vamp, keen detective and tango dancer extraordinaire. The TV writing is exceptional and the stories are faithful as they can be to the books, given the limitations of 54 minutes and contemporary sensibilities probably unforgiving of Phryne's and Lin Chung's "arrangement" after his marriage and the decidedly decadent protagonists of the Murder in the Dark book have been cleaned up a lot. The musical score is splendid, mixing original work with jazz standards.
Don't expect every subplot each book contains when viewing that episode. Instead, sit back and let the sights and sounds of Jazz Age Melbourne become real and become a part of Phryne's inner circle. It's a more than fair trade-off and rarely, rarely does translation from page to screen get it so right!
The Hon. Phryne Fisher has returned to Melbourne, Australia after many years of living abroad. Despite her well-heeled manner, Phryne hides a hardscrabble childhood spent in abject poverty, and is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her beloved sister Janey. It takes only a few moments after Phryne's arrival on the Melbourne dock for the murders and mysteries to start, but with her talent for attracting friends from all walks of life, including cab drivers Bert (Travis McMahon) and Cec (Anthony Sharpe), Mr Butler (Richard Bligh), Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes), Dr Mac (Tammy Macintosh) and new ward Jane (Ruby Rees Wemyss), Phryne is ready for anything!
Phryne's delicious "will they-won't they" banter with Detective Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) drives a great deal of the tension within the series. The early episodes rattle along gloriously and are hugely enjoyable as "single" adventures, however things take a darker tone starting in the 11th episode, "Blood and Circuses", as Phryne's quest to finally avenge her sister's needless death at the hands of criminal Murdoch Foyle (Nicholas Bell in a chilling performance) comes to a thrilling climax. The final three episodes careen along at breakneck speed, taking Phryne, her family and friends through their most terrifying and deadly brushes with Foyle.
Essie Davis plays the resourceful Miss Fisher and it is indeed a sensational performance. One of Australia's finest, Ms Davis beautifully covers all the facets of Phryne with style and boundless energy. And that's not a wig - the quick turnaround on the filming of this series required Davis to dye and blunt-cut her own hair into Miss Fisher's sleek signature black bob.
"Cocaine Blues" - Fresh off the ship from London, Miss Phryne Fisher's Melbourne homecoming will have to take a backseat when she is asked to unravel the bizarre link between a chain of murders and a continental bath, which Phryne soon discovers disguises an opium syndicate and an illegal abortion ring. Guest stars Maria Mercedes, Kristof Piechocki and Miranda Otto.
"Murder on the Ballarat Train" - Phryne and new companion Dot Collins (Ashleigh Cummings) board the train to Ballarat in order to collect her new Hispano-Suiza sports car, but when the train makes a short overnight water-stop at Bacchus Marsh, a corpse is later discovered dangling from the water tower. Guest stars Maeve Dermody, Jacek Koman, Victoria Eagger, Abbe Holmes and David Berry.
"The Green Mill Murder" - Phryne must untangle a web of blackmail encircling old family friends when a dead body shows up on the dancefloor of Melbourne's most decadent new speakeasy, the Green Mill. Guest stars Deni Hines, Arthur Angel, Wendy Hughes, Lauren Clair, Rohan Nicol and Toby Schmitz.
"Death at Victoria Dock" - Whilst she investigates the disappearance of the daughter of an automobile factory owner, Phryne also becomes caught up in the world of the Latvian anarchists who are striking on Victoria Dock. Guest stars Robert Grubb, Penne Hackforth-Jones, Karlis Zaid and Vladimir Tsyganov.
"Raisins and Almonds" - When the owner of a bookshop in Melbourne's Jewish community suddenly drops dead, Phryne is led into a fascinating case involving old family wounds and the formula for synthetic rubber. Guest stars Tim Draxl, Kat Stewart, Adam Schmerl, Brian Lipson and Adrian Mulraney.
"Ruddy Gore" - A vengeful theatre ghost doesn't have much of an appreciation for Gilbert & Sullivan, as Phryne soon discovers in one of her most bizarre cases, which also leads her to her first encounter with Lin Chung (Phillipe Sung). Guest stars Peter Cousens, Christie Whelan, Alex Rathgeber, Debra Lawrance and Bille Brown.
"Murder in Montparnasse" - Phryne's post-war occupation as an artist's model in Paris comes back into the spotlight when Veronique Sarcelle (Linda Cropper), the widow of the artist who considered Phryne to be his greatest muse, travels to Melbourne and asks Phryne to help solve his puzzling death. Guest stars Vince Colosimo, Peter O'Brien, Nick Carrafa, Renaud Jadin and Ben Prendergast.
"Away With the Fairies" - Phryne is called in to investigate the death of a magazine author, beloved by her fans but despised by her co-workers, of whom any could have easily murdered her. Guest stars Deborah Kennedy, Anna McGahan, Roz Hammond and Amanda Ma.
"Queen of the Flowers" - When Phryne is invited to act as the hostess for an annual presentation day for disadvantaged girls, the festive mood is soon blotted by a series of unexpected murders among the contestants. Guest stars Danielle Cormack, Terry Norris, Taylor Ferguson, Andrew S. Gilbert and Eva Lazzaro.
"Death By Miss Adventure" - A series of seemingly accidental deaths at a Melbourne textile factory leads to Dr Mac being questioned as a possible murderer - and danger for Dot when she goes undercover as the new tea-lady... Guest stars Alison Whyte, Caroline Brazier, Andrew Blackman and Neil Pigot.
"Blood and Circuses" - The ghosts of Phryne's past, never far from her mind, are closer than ever when she must investigate the death of a performer in a sideshow. To Phryne's horror, she discovers that Murdoch Foyle has escaped from prison. Guest stars John Wood, Aaron Jeffrey, Maude Davey, Gillian Jones, Joel Tobeck and Victoria Thaine.
"Murder in the Dark" - Murder hits close to home when one of Aunt Prudence's servants is found floating in the pool on the eve of cousin Guy's (Felix Williamson) fancy dress engagement party. Once again, Foyle's presence is in the air... Guest stars Kate Jenkinson, John Lloyd Fillingham and Ken Radley.
"King Memses' Curse" - With Foyle still very much at large and responsible for the recent murder of an antiquities dealer, Phryne once again sets on a path to track down the only person who holds the key to the disappearance of her sister, but will she make a fearful bargain to finally make amends with the past? Guest stars Matt Day, Nicole Nabout, Dennis Coard, Cassandra Magrath and Nick Backstrom.