DVD Review: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Series 1)

Rarely does the amateur murder sleuth prove to be the life of the party. They mainly come off as the bookish types who have an infatuation with true crime stories. Trying to outwit police detectives is the only way they have fun. It’s the prime and proper Miss Marple-esque characters that crack the case of why the wild child was snuffed. That is not true for Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis). This flapper does not go to bed at sensible hours. She is scandalous society woman who is soaking up the jazz age with no regrets. Her wild escapades coincide with a stray corpse. Instead of merely laughing it off in a champagne glee, Miss Fisher is focused on outing the killer in her midst. She could easily be the wayward character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, but prefers to guest star in a Sherlock Holmes adventure. Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries: Series 1 brings the literary figure to the HDTV.

“Cocaine Blues” signals that this will not be a demur heroine snooping on a case. Miss Fisher arrives back in Melbourne, Australia. She’s been bouncing around the globe and has no plans to calm down. There’s no need for her to unpack the excitement. The local strangeness is already happening when she stumbles across a cocaine smuggling ring that’s also involved in abortions and dead husbands. “Murder on the Ballarat Train” takes her cross country when she must pick up her car. What should be a simple trip gets complicated when a passenger’s life is threatened. There’s even a murder on the Aussie Express. Can she figure out who is punching tickets? “The Green Mill Murder” ruins a night of dancing when a wallflower gets planted. She has to take to the air to crack the case based around blackmail. “Death at Victoria Dock” makes Miss Fisher promise a dying man that his killers will be brought to justice. But can she live up to her words? This isn’t an easy trail of deceit. “Raisins and Almonds” is truly a crime of yesterday since the corpse is found at a bookstore. Remember when they sold books that way? Miss Fisher must search for clues in the Jewish community.

“Ruddy Gore” gets musical when Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore brings out the dead. She has to rescue the star from an incident in Chinatown. Many treat a murder in the theater as part of a showbiz curse. Or is it an opium deal gone bad? “Murder in Montparnasse” brings out art world treachery. The widow of an artist comes looking for Miss Fisher. She had posed for the dead man back in Paris. But the encounter goes weird and Miss Fisher must keep from being framed. “Away with the Fairies” makes Miss Fisher consider hooking back up with a now married ex-lover. Complicating this matter of the heart is the death of an author of fairy stories. Was he killed by pixies? “Queen of the Flowers” gets Miss Fisher in trouble when she’s put in charge of wayward girls. One of them turns up dead. Miss Fisher must find the killer or be stigmatized forever. “Death By Miss Adventure” sends Miss Fisher’s maid undercover in a factory to expose a killer. Why doesn’t she go? Would any believe her as a factory worker? “Blood and Circuses” contains a freak accident. Someone has killed a sideshow performer. This case causes pain as Miss Fisher must relive the disappearance of her sister. She can’t get closure since the main suspect is dead and cremated. Or was he? “Murder in the Dark” ruins a garden party with a murder in the fountain. Foyle appears to have a hand in this homicide if he’s alive. “King Memses’ Curse” brings the hot Jazz Age topic of ancient Egypt into the show. Miss Fisher gets wrapped up in a mummy worshiping cult. It all gets tangled further in her quest to uncover her sister’s fate and Murdoch.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series One reflects the excitement of the times. Essie Davis creates her into the most exciting female detective character since Diana Rigg zipped up her leather catsuit on The Avengers. Her character’s zest for life is only matched by the creative homicides that dominate her life. It appears that the series hasn’t been picked up by an American cable channel. Your best way of experiencing Miss Fisher’s mania is to pick up the DVDs or Blu-rays. It’s the perfect murder mystery to watch while sipping your bathtub gin.

The Episodes
“Cocaine Blues,” “Murder on the Ballarat Train,” “The Green Mill Murder,” “Death at Victoria Dock,” “Raisins and Almonds,” “Ruddy Gore,” “Away with the Fairies,” “Queen of the Flowers,” “Death by Miss Adventure” “Blood and Circuses,” “Murder in Montparnasse,” “Murder in the Dark,” and “King Memses’ Curse.”

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfers bring out the details in the production design. They’ve really gone out to make Miss Fisher inhabit her Jazz Age world. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo. The jazz score mixes well with the dialogue and gun shots. The episodes are subtitled that can help if you can’t grasp the accents.

The Look (18:59) lets the third director and others explain how they create a Age feel. This also explains what his job entail on the series. The extras are excited to get dressed up to appear in the background.

Meet the Creators (4:46) allows author Kerry Greenwood discusses why she trusted these producers to turn her literary character into a TV series. There are plenty of horror stories about bad adaptations the hurt the books sales.

Set Tour (3:36) lets Kerry Greenwood wander the rooms that for a long time were merely in her head.

Cast Interviews (8:36) includes Essie Davis discussing the experiences of her character.

Vehicles of the Series (2:05) features the joy of hunting down cars that are nearly 100 years old.

Steam Train Experts (1:28) talks to the two men who made the train engine run.

Locations of Melbourne (4:12) pops around town to show the actual houses used by the series.

Photo Gallery (2:00) is a montage of production images.

St. Kilda Tribune pdf is a fun download.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series 1 is a compelling show for viewers who want an exciting investigator. She’s not come back home to take it easy. The homicides in her hometown keep her as busy sleuthing. She barely has enough time to jitterbug and sample the pleasures of 20th century scandals.

Acorn Media presents Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series 1. Starring: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Ashleigh Cummings and Miranda Otto. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: March 26, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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