TV Review by Debbie Winkler
Series: Death in Paradise Season 1, Episodes 1 – 8
Starring: Ben Miller, Sara Martins, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Don Warrington
Release Date: 2011
Length: 466 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
“Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Richard Poole (Ben Miller) is sent to the Caribbean island of Sainte Marie to solve a fellow policeman’s (Hugo Speer) murder. Having done so, he finds himself seconded to the local police force as the dead man’s replacement.” — Netflix.com
I fell in love with the Death in Paradise series from the first episode! I love a good crime drama series and this one not only has some great crimes, but it is funny, which is an increasingly rare combination. In Season 1, Ben Miller stars as Detective Inspector Richard Poole. He is a brilliant detective, but very exacting and not very well liked. In fact, his office throws a party to celebrate his absence when he is transferred to the Caribbean. Poole hates the Caribbean. He insists on wearing his British suits complete with tie and formal lace-up shoes. This leaves him sweating in the heat, refusing to walk on the sand and trying to avoid the laid-back hobbies of the Islanders at all costs. Poole can’t stand seafood, has no love for the French, who colonized the island generations ago, and is frustrated by his inability to find a proper cup of tea. So, of course, the gorgeous Caribbean island of Sainte Marie holds no appeal for him. I found it very entertaining to see Poole try to adapt to his new surroundings. Everything that tourists know and love about beach life is available to Poole, but he doesn’t enjoy any of it!
The supporting cast here in Season 1 ably supports Ben Miller and his character. Sara Martins plays Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey. She is a beautiful female officer with French roots who never understands Poole. Camille is bright and a little bitter that she is constantly passed over for promotions based on her sex. There is a hint of romance that develops between Poole and Camille, but I am not sure that it will ever come to anything as these two have nothing in common outside of their jobs. Danny John-Jules plays Officer Dwayne Meyers. He is an experienced policeman who likes to have a good time. Dwayne knows all of the bad guys on the island and is a fount of information about local music and religion. Officer Fidel Best (Gary Carr) is the newbie. He is eager and willing to prove that he has what it takes to be a great policeman. I was charmed by Gary Carr’s portrayal of a young person starting out in a tough profession. He tries so hard to impress Poole and to become a great investigator. These four form the core of the first season and really worked well together in a full believable, organic unit.
The first season of Death in Paradise features a lot of gorgeous Sainte Marie scenery and plenty of tidbits about the local culture and island life. There are 8 episodes in this season and they are each about 1 hour-long (about 56 – 57 minutes each). Each episode is fully encapsulated and can be watched as a standalone unit, which is a refreshing change in a crime drama series. All of the mysteries are varied and unexpected. I rarely was able to guess who the murderer was, which was wonderful! I was delighted to learn about everything from voodoo, destination weddings, the local music scene, smuggling, real estate scams, tropical fever, and more! It was nice to have a touch of the exotic added to the crimes and I liked learning about the less-attractive side of paradise. My favorite was the third episode where the group is investigating the death of a voodoo priestess who daughter disappeared 15 years earlier. It was wonderful to see Poole put together the pieces to solve an unsolvable crime!
If you enjoy crime dramas, you will be sure to enjoy Death in Paradise. It is definitely lighter fare and Poole reminded me quite a bit of Monk, but in a good way. Poole always manages to solve the crimes by putting together seemingly insignificant details that everyone else overlooks. My favorite part about the series is that Poole finally finds a place where he is accepted and belongs, even though he doesn’t realize it. Poole is fully accepted by the Sainte Marie team and they not only respect his process, but are fascinated by it. The cinematography is gorgeous and the mysteries are interesting. Death in Paradise is another great series put out by BBC.
This series contains murders in every episode. The victims’ bodies are shown briefly. The police discuss forensic details, methods, means and motives for murder, etc. in regards to each crime. The characters drink and hang out in a local bar. Other characters have extramarital affairs, illegitimate children, smuggle people/drugs/diamonds/weapons, participate in crimes such as murder for hire, money laundering, blackmail, etc. Nothing is too salacious or inappropriate for younger viewers. The series is relatively clean in comparison to other crime dramas. There is no bad language. Recommended for ages 8 and up.