DEATH IN PARADISE, SEASON 1. This BBC television series, made with the support of the French Caribbean region of Guadeloupe – and filmed there—is a quintessentially British mystery. In a light-hearted, humorous crime drama that has been playing on some PBS channels in the United States, stalwart strait-laced Inspector Richard Poole is a fish out of water when Scotland Yard sends him to the tiny – fictitious-- Caribbean island of Saint Marie to solve the murder of his predecessor. He does so successfully, then finds himself seconded to this small hot island. Unfortunately, he hates the sun, sea, sand and seafood. Nor is he suited to the pace of life on the island.
And, at this new post, Poole encounters a very different type of policing than what he is used to: it challenges his more buttoned-up sensibility. His new partner, Camille Bordey, is instinctive, feisty, insightful. The rest of the – fictional, though I suspect it resembles St. Lucia --Saint Marie police force – two cops! has their own unique way of doing things in this police procedural. But, though Poole would never admit it, together, they make a perfect team. The season 1 box set consists of two DVDs, each holding four new mysteries, totaling about 466 minutes of entertainment. And thank goodness, and the BBC, subtitles, for who would want to miss a moment of this delightful lilting Caribbean-accented dialog. Though, wonderfully enough, the sound quality is quite good; even I was able to make out the entire dialog, without shaking the house on the volume meter.
The acting is fine, from Ben Miller, PRIMEVAL, playing Detective Inspector Poole, the hapless, yet brilliant detective, to Sara Martins, PARIS, JE T’AIME, as his gorgeous new partner Detective Sergeant Borday. Other series members live up to the high acting standards, including Danny Jules-John as Officer Dwayne Myers; Gary Carr as Officer Fidel Best; Elisabeth Bourgine as Catherine, Camille’s lovely and charming mother and Don Warrington as Police Commissioner Selwyn Patterson. Both series are also packed full of new pretty faces, British and Caribbean. And many, many well-known British stars/supporting players: I clocked, among others Colin Salmon, (PRIME SUSPECT); Adrian Dunbar, (LINE OF DUTY); Robert Pugh, (GAME OF THRONES); Philip Jackson, (POIROT); Sharon Small, (INSPECTOR LYNLEY). Also Gemma Jones, Joanna David, Julie Graham, Phil Davis, Claire Holman, Cherie Lunghi, Nicholas Farrell, Rupert Graves.
The episodes are:
Arriving in Paradise
DI Richard Poole arrives on the tropical isle of Saint-Marie to investigate the death of a fellow British detective.
Wicked Wedding Night
A bride dies minutes after her wedding.
A woman predicts her own murder and describes her killer.
Missing a Body?
A woman confesses to murdering her husband but the lack of a body brings her claim into question.
Spot the Difference
A prisoner is stabbed to death while handcuffed to DI Poole.
An Unhelpful Aid
Dwayne and Fidel have to solve a murder without the help of an ill D.I. Poole.
Music of Murder
A band member is murdered at the band's comeback gig.
Dwayne is framed for a murder. An homage to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes’ The Silver Blaze, a short story, famously known for the plot point of the dog that didn’t bark in the night, when it should have.
The scenery is, of course, to die for, looking hot-hot-hot on the screen, and I adore the soundtrack, as I have apparently always adored Caribbean music. You can any time give me an interlude of doing the Rock Steady to Blondie’s “The Tide is High,” of which we hear snatches here. The mysteries: well, they’re not down, dirty and depressing in the latest British style, more old-fashioned fun Agatha Christie’s Marple and Poirot style. Some might consider them a bit clunky. But rather original, some even unique in my experience. And I’ve been noticing that some of the most charming interludes, local color mostly, have been trimmed from the broadcast versions. Well worth getting.