“Death in Paradise” Review

Name of Show: Death In Paradise

Broadcast by: BBC

Rating: *****

*-Awful  **-Poor   ***-Fair    *****-Good   *****-Excellent

Recently I have been watching more BBC on Netflix than any other “channels” that they offer.  

BBC back in the day used to be quite pretentious and if you had not graduated from Eton or Oxford, you wouldn’t understand half of what was going on. However, with their more recent shows like Sherlock,  The Fall and others, BBC has seemed to “Americanized” their television. Meaning they have “dumbed it down” so even us American cousins can understand the show. American actors like Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully fromthe X Files) who plays Stella on The Fall are joining the likes of BBC. The BBC is still intelligent and thought provoking, but somehow the characters are more relatable. Maybe because they are more well-defined than American tv characters are, but whatever the reason BBC is the place to go if you want quality television.

richard-poole

Richard Poole (Ben Miller) 

Death in Paradise is a show that actually takes place in the Caribbean. It takes place on the fictional island of Saint Marie. The show starts with a murder of an uncover British officer and the British authorities at the London Met have sent one of their own to oversee the investigation. The man they send is Detective Inspector, Richard Poole. Richard Poole is an awkward little man who hates the Caribbean, if you can imagine that. He despises the heat and misses the cold of England and his “snug in his pub.” He is not the easiest person to get along with but he definitely grows on you. When he catches the killer, he thinks he is going to be going back to England only to find out he has been placed permanently on Saint Marie with French detective and former undercover cop, Camille Bordey played by French actress, Sara Martins.

Initially, the two cannot stand each other. Richard Poole has no great affection for the French but as the series continues they start to form a friendship. The take on all the murder mysteries that Saint Marie offers and do it without modern conveniences like a forensics lab and the like. Which means they have to rely heavily on old fashioned police work.  It is like Murder She Wrote meets Fraiser (or as Kris Marshall who plays Humphrey Goodman in the third season, taking over for Richard Poole, puts it Columbo meets Scooby Doo) It has the surprisingly whodunit of Murder, She Wrote and the smart humor of Frasier (and given that Frasier Crane is an Anglophile it makes sense that “Frasier” had an English feel to its humor.) But Kris does have a point when he points out that every episode ends with everyone gathered together as Poole (and then Goodman) reveals who committed the murder much like Scooby Doo.

camille-bordey

Camille Bordey (Sara Martins)

“Death in Paradise” is easy to watch. It is funny yet smart. It has no overt sex scenes. Even though it deals with murder, the violence is minimal and the cussing is almost nil. It is the kind of show you can watch with your children without feeling reluctant about them viewing some of the scenes. Because it is the Caribbean there are a couple of episodes that deal with voodoo, but it is not a glorification of the religion just part of the story line.

The interesting  part of the show is how easily the characters interact with each other without making hullabaloo about race. During the last eight years racial tensions have increased dramatically in the U.S. but on Saint Marie where you have a large Creole (Black/French) population as part of the story line it seems almost immaterial. During season two you could see how much Camille and Richard have grown to really care about each other, despite him being an uptight British man and she being a free-spirited French woman. Just when you think they are about to be together, he is gone. Enter the Kris Marshall part of the series.

dwayne-meyers

Dwayne Meyers (Danny John-Jules) 

Of course, Richard and Camille are not the only two on Saint Marie.  You have Dwayne who is a cop for the Honore Police Department, but we are never quite sure what his rank is. He is however, the go to guy. He knows the island like the back of his hand and when you want information he can tell you who on the island can give it to you. He is not a by the book guy but he is not dishonest. He loves the ladies but also gives 100 percent to his job.

Lastly there is Fidel Best (Gary Carr) and the Commissioner (Don Worrington) who make up the rest of the team. Fidel starts of as a shy, family man who becomes a confident Sergeant and eventually moves on to brighter and better things. You also have the meddling police commissioner who makes sure the team does not step on any of the big wigs toes in Saint Marie. Unless it is Judge Stone,he wants her arrested for anything after she threw him in jail. We also cannot forget Catherine, Camille’s mother who runs a bar on Saint Marie and is forever trying to set her daughter up with one man or another. But the most talented of all, is the lizard. He steals whatever scene he is. He started off as an annoyance that showed up in Richard’s house one day and has never left. And even when his beloved master moved on, he just took up residence with Hugh.

Altogether, it is a well thought out, well-written, television show. The characters are not some cookie-cutter, stereotypical characters we have all seen a million times over. Whileit is easy to get lost in it, it is not so mindless that you don’t need to think at all. All in all, it proves to be what entertainment is all about-to take you a place where you have never been and transport you there for just a while. If you haven’t seen “Death in Paradise” on Netflix, it is time you check it out and any other BBC offerings they may have. You will not regret it.

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