Miss Phryne (pronounced FRY-knee) Fisher (Essie Davis) is a P.I. In the 1920′s. But if you have her pictured as a starving private eye with a dingy office over a Chinese restaurant, you’d have it all wrong. She’s a very independent, very rich and fashionable woman who takes cases that somehow invariably end up with at least one someone being murdered. And murder, of course, means the police must be called in, namely Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page, who looks like a doppelganger for Ioan Gruffudd), and Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt).
Phryne has a flirtatious relationship with the married-in-name-only Inspector, while her maid Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) has a soft spot for Hugh. The remainder of the cast includes the butler, appropriately named Mr. Butler (Richard Bligh), and cabbies Bert and Cec (Travis McMahon and Anthony Sharpe), who moonlight helping Phryne with her investigations.
Did I mention this is an Australian television show?
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is adapted from the novels by Kerry Greenwood, and two series have been completed. A third series was just commissioned.
I happened upon these only because they were in my list of suggested shows on Netflix. Here in the U.S. we can also see it when/if it airs on PBS, through an Acorn British TV subscription (which, if you have Netflix, is redundant for the most part) or by waiting for the downloads or DVD’s to show up.
I’ve gone through only a few episodes, but I love them already. It’s witty, fun, occasionally serious (such as when it delves into controversial-for-its-time areas like interracial marriage), and is well-written and acted. One of the best parts, outside of the flirting between Phryne and Jack of course, are the clothes. Phryne has some of the most gorgeous outfits you’ll ever see (I’m particularly fond of her hats). Last year the show’s wardrobe team very deservedly won the AACTA award for Best Costume Design in Television.
If you need some summer reading material, you can also download the Kerry Greenwood novels. I have one of those sitting on my Nook, but haven’t gotten to it yet. If the television series is anything to go by, though, spending some reading time with the spunky Miss Fisher will definitely be worth my while. Right after I’m done watching all the episodes on Netflix, of course.
Check out this interview with star Essie Davis on tellyspotting.org.