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Phryne's fans need have no fear
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!