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Death in Paradise: Season 1 (2011) Review

Death in Paradise: Season 1

TV Review by Debbie Winkler

Watch Season 1 Full Episodes on YouTube!

Series: Death in Paradise Season 1, Episodes 1 – 8
Starring: Ben Miller, Sara Martins, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Don Warrington
Director: Various
Release Date: 2011
Language: English
Length: 466 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb86_thumb1_thumb[4]

Synopsis:

“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

Review:

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 Death in Paradisea 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 Death in Paradise Crewdevelops 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 Death in Paradise Two Leadsand 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.

Content:

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.

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A Caribbean Mystery (1983) Movie Review

A Caribbean Mystery (1983)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

A Caribbean Mystery 1983

Series: an Agatha Christie Classic Mystery Collection movie; a Miss Marple movie
Starring: Helen Hayes, Barnard Hughes, Jameson Parker, Season Hubley, Swoosie Kurtz
Director: Robert Michael Lewis
Release Date: 22 October 1983
Language: English
Length: 93 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1

Synopsis:

No one is surprised when Major Palgrave (Maurice Evans) dies in his sleep at the Caribbean resort he vacationed at every year, but Miss Jane Marple (Helen Hayes) suspects that it is murder.  Major Palgrave seemed to have recognized someone at the resort, someone who had successfully murdered in the past.  But who was it?  Was it a female Lucretia Borgia who had poisoned her husband and then pushed him off the balcony?  Or was it a grieving husband who buried two wives who committed suicide?  With no assistance, no proof and a hotel full of suspects, will Miss Marple be able to solve the crime?

Review:

A Caribbean Mystery is a delightful adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Caribbean Resort Ownersnovel.  It was filmed for TV during the 1980s so the styling and fashion is worth a bit of a giggle, but the story is still fascinating.  Everyone seems suspicious as all of the actors cast sidelong glances at each other, make guilty-sounding remarks and seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I had absolutely no idea who the murderer was until the very end of the film and then is seemed super obvious, just like all good mystery stories!  The setting is touristy and appropriately tropical, with added touches in the music to remind us that we are no longer in Jolly Old England.

The acting is a bit over the top, but solid enough, anchored by Helen Hayes as Miss Marple and Barnard Hughes as a wealthy, wheelchair-bound guest who helps her solve the case.  These two characters really made the film for me. Miss Marple Just Arrives Helen Hayes was marvelous in portraying Miss Marple as a fish out of water.  She shows up at the swimming pool and the beach with her bag of knitting, attired in her comfortable dresses with sensible shoes.  Her only concession to being on vacation is a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off of her face.  Mr. Rafiel delights in complaining and seems to take great pleasure in ruining other people’s vacation.  Miss Marple spends most of her vacation investigating the murder, but the rest of it dodging all of the activities that the resort tries to offer its guests.  She claims to have a trick knee to get out of shuffleboard, ducks out of sight during the darts tournament, refuses to participate in charades as they cause her heart palpitations and begrudgingly plays croquet with one of the suspects to get information.  When Mr. Picture No. 10305532Rafiel signs her up for the darts tournament, Miss Marple exclaims “Why would you do such a hateful thing?!”  Miss Marple even refuses to return on an all-expenses paid vacation the following year so she can get some rest!  I couldn’t stop laughing at the huge effort Miss Marple had to make to just spend some time relaxing in nice weather.  I love to sit and read outside when I am on vacation and everyone always feels like I must be bored out of my mind and keep trying to thrust activities on me.  I come home more tired from my vacations than when I left so I could definitely sympathize with Miss Marple in this one!

At first, I did not care for A Caribbean Mystery and couldn’t understand why Agatha Christie took Jane Marple out of her native land, but I have grown to love the different film adaptations.  They all offer a slightly different perspective on the famous sleuth, but I will say that this 1983 version holds a special place in my heart.  I enjoy rewatching it whenever I see it on TV and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery!

Content:

This movie contains multiple murders.  Bodies are shown, but there is no blood and nothing too gory.  One of the victims is shown being hit on the head, but the body is not shown afterwards.  Two other bodies are shown after the victims are murdered and the movie shows their eyes open with vacant expressions.  There are scenes of drinking.  Extramarital affairs, work scandals and other secrets are exposed during the course of the investigation.  Verbal abuse and arguments are shown.  Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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