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on January 26, 2013
When I read Cocaine Blues, I fell hard for Phryne (FRY-KNEE) Fisher, Dot, the Butlers, Inspector Robinson (call me Jack) Bert and Cec and the rest of the characters in Kerry Greenwood's delightful series and have since read every Phryne I could get my hands on.

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!
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I have long been a fan of Kerry Greenwood's fictional detective Phryne Fisher so I greeted the news that her most famous creation was going to be the subject of a television series with equal amounts of anticipation and trepidation. Those feelings were heightened when I also learned that Essie Davis was going to star in the series. The reason: While Ms. Davis is still one of the world's most beautiful women, she is a tad bit older than the vivacious Phryne, a woman who carries a gold-plated revolver, can tango with the best of them and is prone to late nights in unusual circumstances.
I needn't have worried. Essie Davis is marvelous as the detective who was inadvertently named - by her drunken father - after a famous Greek courtesan. She brings just the right amount of smoldering looks, sassy retorts and intelligence to the role of the no-holds-barred private detective who went from poverty stricken child to wealthy woman when several rich relatives were killed in the "War To End All Wars." Dashing through life in the Twenties, Phryne is an unusual heroine: She not only uses her keen brain to solve crimes, she also dallies with assorted "unsuitable" men and takes the time to right a few wrongs along the way. It's this combination of beauty, brains and her unswerving desire to "do the right thing" even if that means bending the rules (or occasionally breaking an unjust law) that makes her adventures so much fun to read. The producers have taken some liberties with Ms. Greenwood's formidable Miss Fisher and her supporting cast of characters but I don't believe that detracts overmuch from this delightful series. Like Phryne herself, the series is stylish and sassy and watching Essie Davis do justice to one of the great private detectives in crime fiction is a great way to spend a few hours.
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on May 4, 2014
In Australia, in the 1920s, the Honorable Phryne Fisher is a brilliant, fearless, female private detective who is a woman's libber far ahead of her time. To Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, she's a pain in the butt but he can't do without her because she has an uncanny ability to put seemingly unrelated occurrences together and catch the bad guys - and you just know he's in love with her. I had read a couple of the books and was thrilled to see the stories on TV and even more thrilled to find they were available on DVD. The screenwriter(s) have brought Miss Fisher and the rest of the cast to life and the episodes are a joy to watch, with the perfect mix of mystery and humor. I have already pre-ordered the next set and am anxiously awaiting their arrival not only beause the stories are absolutely delightful but because I want to find out for sure if the secret that has haunted her most of her life really has been resolved as it seems to have been in the last episode in this set.
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on March 1, 2016
The Miss Fisher Mysteries series is entertaining and generally well acted. Miss Fisher operates as sort of a female combination of Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, and James Bond. Like Holmes she is portrayed as a very careful observer whose skills and thoroughness outshine those of the police, and there is a hint that the police simply are not very good. Like Wimsey she lives the life of a wealthy aristocrat, and bosses her servants like one, but simultaneously tries to treat them in a benevolent fashion and to some extent promotes a social egalitarianism that never quite catches on. Like Bond she seems fearless and oversexed. I am not sure what age Miss Fisher is supposed to be, but she is portrayed by an actress in her forties, and in spite of good makeup, she doesn't quite come across as someone in her twenties or thirties. Instead she seems like a randy cougar always on the lookout for attractive young male flesh to indulge her active carnal urges. Her character promotes of lifestyle of cost-free promiscuity with the purpose of physical gratification, obtaining useful information for her investigations, or both. Although set in the post WW I era, at least implicitly, the lead character and her adventures actively promote a world view or philosophy of life which is generally embraced by much of the 21st century wealthy, privileged, secular social elite who populate large swaths of elite universities, national media and sites of political power in Western countries. This involves a benevolent-sounding social justice overtone, perhaps a nominal embrace of socialistic economic policies, sexual libertinism, a denigration of traditional social/family values, denigration of religious values, and an arrogant assumption that the unwashed masses need them, the elites, to think for the said masses and organize society for them. Nevertheless it is possible to avoid either applauding or booing the social values messages depending on your own world view and simply enjoy an entertaining, although probably not quite realistic, piece of theater.
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on January 3, 2017
These are cool one-hour detective stories based in 1930's Australia. It's a nice change from modern US / British procedurals, more in the Agatha Christie style. The protagonist is an interesting strong-minded feminist with a history and a penchant for adopting lost-causes. The writing and sets in 1930's Australia are fantastic. Davis does a wonderful job giving an historical character a vibrancy that makes you forget the setting is 90 years old. The plots are somewhat predictable, for those of us who watch such detective shows, but the characters and settings make it worthwhile.
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on February 12, 2015
LOVE, love, LOVE this series! Thanks again, American PBS, for bringing great international content to my attention. While I love mystery series I didn't recognize this title in the Guide so hadn't bothered DVR-ing it on Saturday nights (usually out). Neither the title nor the blurb about a 1920s detective fired my imagination.... Mistake! It was mid-season before I caught on and started watching "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries".
I ordered the full series BluRay as soon as it came out so I could go back for the full story. The best of the casts' chemistry takes a while to pick up, but the early eps were even better than I expected. AND I was super-psyched there are so MANY episodes! Yay, Aussies! [So many great British series are so short (okay, that's likely a major factor in their quality)]. Side note - I am obsessed with the wardrobes; I had no idea I cared at ALL about 1920s fashion! But I would faint for anything they throw on Miss Fisher. She effortlessly coordinates with every lush setting...sigh. HAD to go BluRay for that alone.
Speaking of, BluRay quality is excellent and the extra features on the last disc were a lot of fun. Kudos to the TV series' production team and to the author. And to PBS and Acorn and Amazon.... Smiles all around, with only a slight smirk, some sass and possibly an un-loaded weapon hidden somewhere on my person.
SPOILER-ish: If you watch the author's Extra segment, you may find it humorous how very MANY things on set are "perfect." Just try counting the number of "perfect" things; I dare you.
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on May 4, 2013
I am a devoted fan of the Phryne Fisher books , so it was impossible to pass this series up. There are many things I admire about how they brought these stories to film - Casting was really done well, from Miss Fisher and Dot Williams who are almost letter perfect to Bert and Cec, Jane, Mr. Butler and Lin Chung. The overall ambience of the 20s and the sets are wonderful.The stories are well directed, they move along well and keep you caught up in the mysteries. Yes, they have taken liberties with the stories and Miss Fisher's back story and troupe, some of which are understandable to me, some of which aren't. (why kill off Mrs. Butler? Who cooks for goodness sake?) The addition of a tragic mystery around Phryne's sister was unnecessary.But what happened to Miss Fisher's divine wardrobe? ?? That is probably the most jarring departure, Phryne wearing (and most shockingly of all REwearing) somewhat ordinary pants and suits is just tragic. I also have to quibble about the interior design of Phryne's house - not at all up to the standard one expects from the book.
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on April 23, 2014
This is a truly tremendous series! I am a great fan of mysteries in general, and particularly those that take place between World Wars I and II. The familiar, but still mildly exotic, locale of Melbourne, Australia makes for a fascinating background. The sleuth in question is an independently wealthy, exceedingly progressive, free-thinking lady of society - with a butler named "Mr. Butler", isn't that delicious? Then there's the matter of a cast of supporting characters that are unique, charming, and intelligent, with gradually developed story lines of their own. And, of course, there are the mysteries themselves - worthy of Christie and Conan Doyle in their range and complexity. The production values are top notch: acting, directing, writing, sets, costumes, etc., etc., etc. I loved it so much, I pre-ordered the second season which becomes available, they tell me, in May, 2014. (I can hardly wait.) These shows are winners in very best sense of the word. Try them. I can't imagine anyone not loving them.
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on July 15, 2013
This is an easy review. I loved this so much that after viewing all 13 episodes I've started collecting and reading all of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher novels then re-watching the episodes again after I've finished the book. This has been a total blast! Now the review:
1) The entire cast is absolutely flawless. Casting is perfect. I love Essie Davis as Phryne and Nathan Page as Inspector Jack Robinson.
2) Dot, Bert, Cec, Collins, and Mr. Butler are perfect also.
3) Some of the plots are streamlined and condensed a little; yet don't stray too far from the novels. With less than an hour per episode this is amazing. The writting and scripts are examplary.
4) Sets and Costumes are SPECTACULAR!!! as well as locations.
5) I love the music - perfect and appropo! Great Jazz hits.
6) I cannot wait for series two and hope for many many more.
7) Nudity and sex are handled well and not offensive or over done. After all one of the major critics has coined this as "Miss Marple's Naughty Niece" YES!
8) The writters, producers and director have got it all right and borrowed from MIDSOMMER'S MURDERS and DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE and a great tongue in check style; Definity Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) in THE AVENGERS!!!
9) Having seen the show first has made it so easy to visualize the books.
10) Author Kerry Greenwood is a gem and has a true hit 1920's female detective on her hands. The books are as much fun as this excellent series.
11) Australian TV has a true Blockbuster Hit on their hands.
12) I disagree with the one or two reviewers who feel this is a "Chic Flick" series. Murder mystery fans of both sexs enjoy Miss Phryne Fisher and her entourage!
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on August 8, 2016
This is now my favorite British series. Essie Davis is outstanding in the main role. Her character is smarter than the police and Jack is now dependent on her help in murder investigations. There is plenty of humor from the butler - Mr. Butler who always seems to have incite on weapons and where to get them. Miss Fisher's aunt is a stitch - so proper and rich along with Miss Fisher. The romance growing between Jack the detective and Miss Fisher is priceless. Miss Fisher is a very modern woman and Jack is very old fashion. A funny combination that creates lots of red faces that Jack hides very well. I highly recommend this Australian series.
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