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Rosemary & Thyme - Series One
DVD | Box Set
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Laura Thyme, a former policewoman and garden-loving housewife, has just lost her husband to a much younger woman when she meets Rosemary Boxer, a plant biologist who has just lost her university teaching post. A suspicious death brings them together, and they combine their gardening skills and natural curiosity to dig deeper. Despite the success of their first "case," Laura and Rosemary hope their blossoming friendship will lead to gardening commissions, not detective work. But mysteries have a habit of following them around in this appealing series that combines two British specialties: gardening and mystery.
Shot on location in stunning countryside settings, Rosemary & Thyme stars the dynamic acting duo Felicity Kendal (Good Neighbors, The Camomile Lawn) and Pam Ferris (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Matilda).
DVD special features include an interview with Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris, production notes, photo gallery, and more.
American detectives are usually played by tough guys and busty babes, but the British have more esoteric tastes: The sleuths of Rosemary & Thyme are a pair of middle-aged ladies with a horticulture business. Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal, star of the classic Britcom Good Neighbors), a former academic, teamed up with new divorcee (and former policewoman) Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) over a murder case involving poisonous weeds and oozing red sap--plants and murder have been intertwined ever since. A dying lawn leads to a pretty Polish blonde pushed from a roof; while Rosemary tosses off tidbits about Victorian gardening techniques and the Latin name for the early spider orchid, the bones of a buried racehorse reveal other secrets. In one clever episode, flowers are the murder weapon themselves (though to say how would spoil the fun). Some mystery aficionados may find Rosemary & Thyme a bit abrupt; the hour-long format doesn't allow for the elegant unfolding and deft misdirection of an Agatha Christie adaptation. But the interplay between rambunctious Rosemary and pragmatic Laura is addictive, and the suggestion--spoken aloud in one episode, but underlying the entire series--that English flora respond to the evil deeds of humankind lends an almost metaphysical air to the pair's dual pursuits. Gardening fans will also appreciate the many lovely gardens, which the series lovingly displays. --Bret Fetzer
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The two principal actors acquit themselves very well. The first episodes of this series were significantly better written than the last episodes in more recent seasons. Joining the viewers of this series long after its debut, I found those to be mediocre and rarely watched it. Having now viewed the first season, I have some perspective and can see that the quality of its writing was simply better than that in later seasons.
The genre of murder mysteries is actually a big challenge for writers. The genre confines the writer to fixed temporal setting and place setting. In a series, the writer is even restricted to a few characters. These restrictions leave little room for creative excellence.
I don't usually review videos in this column, but the Rosemary and Thyme series, seen as an original serial on PBS, feels like the kind of escapist read you get from an English village style mystery.
The main characters, who are just good friends (but occasionally mistaken for more so) are two middle aged women who work together on creating and restoring the most beautifully filmed English and European gardens you could hope to see. Former policewoman, Laura Thyme (played by Pam Ferris) whose husband has just dumped her, and recently laid-off college professor Rosemary Boxer (played by Felicity Kendal) find and solve mysteries at every gardening job they take. The `not-too-complex' plots are enhanced by the strong friendship that develops between the two women. That the women do real work, get dirty and look the way real women do, also adds to the story quality.
Three series of six episodes each are available. That ought to get you through the cold winter nights.