Year Released: 2011-present
Created by: Robert Thorogood
Starring: Ben Miller, Sara Martins, Dwayne Myers
(NR, 52 min. per episode)
Genre: Mystery and Suspense, Comedy
Camille Bordey: You are the most annoying man I've ever met.
DI Richard Poole: It's a very small island.
It’s not edgy or camp, but just about everyone is crazy about this British mystery series. A straight-laced Scotland Yard Detective finds his new job at a Caribbean island absolutely not his cup of tea. Biting wit, gentle satire, and artful detection make Death in Paradise a delight in every way.
First of all, the plots are tight. Perhaps due to the 52 minute episode time limit, we do not have an endless list of suspects, something even one of my favorites, Agatha Christie, was guilty of at times.
And these little gems meet a requirement Dame Agatha herself explained in bullfighting terms. A good mystery writer was very much like a toreador, she mused, holding his red cape as near to his body as possible, thus making him very vulnerable. Just so, a good mystery writer must give the reader many clues along the way, so that the audience is not so much astounded but instead a little embarrassed when they learn the identity of the culprit. Things had been hidden in plain sight; an alert reader should have picked up the clues that were strewn about with deliberation.
In too many mysteries, even those on the prestigious Masterpiece Mystery, throw a hasty solution at us without building up a case for it, even one camouflaged among the red herrings. Not true with the tidy mysteries of Death in Paradise. Even so, some snobbish critics offer faint praise:
It’s almost a parody of detective drama cliches, with old favourites, such as locked-room killings, decoy confessions, and denouements where the sleuth gathers everyone together in a room before revealing their secrets, all jovially recycled. Suspects are interviewed and eliminated one by one. Evidence is slowly recapped. It’s often reassuringly easy to guess who the murderer is.
These are bloodless, solidly middle-class mysteries – no gore, no social issues and none of your outlandish Midsomer Murders poisonings and impalements here, thank you. In any case, MM goes on for two hours, which is a bit too much of a commitment. DIP wraps up in 60 breezy minutes, and there’s plenty of time to look at the beach along the way. –Jack Seale
The leads are all interesting in themselves. Detective Inspector Poole (Ben Miller) combines the anti-social arrogance of Sherlock Holmes with Doc Martin’s comic variety of it, as indicated in DI Poole’s conversations with his French /Caribbean Sergeant Bordey (Sara Martins)
Camille Bordey: Voodoo has been part of this island for hundreds of years.
DI Richard Poole: So have cholera and TB - and the French - and we managed to get rid of them in the end!
Camille Bordey: I am half French!
DI Richard Poole: There's no such thing as half French!
He is equally dismissive of the fowl population:
DI Richard Poole: [after finding a freshly laid chicken egg in his shoe] Oh, for crying out loud!
DS Camille Bordey: Don't you have chickens in London?
DI Richard Poole: Yes, we do... wrapped in cellophane...
Sergeant Bordey and her French mother try to coax DI Poole out of his coat and tie as he complains incessantly about the heat, but the farthest they get is for him to remove his shoes and wade a few inches into the waves, and that he only does when he is completely alone.
Similarly, a birthday party is a complete disaster – Poole leaves just after the cake arrives. But his Caribbean police mates seem to love and respect him in the same way the NCIS crew does the misanthropic Leroy Gibbs.
I must confess that I have not seen the entire series. I am only in the first 2011 season, so I have not seen the two new leads that take over for Poole and Bordey in season 3 and 4, but they seem to delight the fans just as much or not more so than Poole and Bordey. The new DI Goodman is awkward and accident prone. Michael Hogan argues that "his bumbling and stammering resemble a Hugh Grant impersonation.” He may be clumsy and forgetful, like his American counterpart, Columbo, but DI Goodman also shares an eye for detail that lets him get his man every time.
So take a trip to the beach with Death in Paradise. With the help of Netflix you can enjoy the soft breeze and lapping waves in the comfort of your own living room. With no gritty sand or relentless sun to vex you.
Prim Englishman Detective Inspector Poole loves all things English and cannot bear to loosen up in the warm breezes and pristine beaches of the Caribbean island where he is stationed. He wears a full suit and tie in the tropical heat and constantly laments not getting a satisfactory cup of tea anywhere on St. Marie.
In spite of the dazzling dishes that greet him – delectably fresh seafood, a rainbow of enticing fruit, and fizzy cocktails as pretty as they are delicious – he prefers hot tea and English fare. So, when he solves a particularly difficult case, he gets a culinary reward.
A full dinner of English Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, a brown and white conglomeration on his plate that contrasts with the delightful rainbow of local dishes his fellow detectives feast upon at the same table.
But DI Poole is one happy Englishman as he digs into his home country’s signature meal.
You, too, can enjoy this dish from Different Drummer’s own Appetite for Murder: A Mystery Lover’s Cookbook .
English Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Place 5-pound beef roast fat side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in center of thickest part of beef and does not rest in fat. Do not add water.
Roast uncovered in 325 degree oven to desired degree of doneness: 125 to 130 for rare, about 1 3/4 hours; 140 to 150 for medium, about 2 1/4 hours. If desired, add potatoes after approximately 15 minutes. See directions for browned roast potatoes below. About 30 minutes before roast reaches desired temperature above, prepare Yorkshire Pudding Batter. Heat square pan, 9 x 9 x 2 inches, or oblong baking dish, 11 x 7 x 1 1/2 inches, in oven.
When roast reaches desired temperature, remove from oven; increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Transfer roast to platter; cover lightly with aluminum foil. Pour off 1/4 cup drippings from roast pan; place drippings in heated square pan. Pour in pudding batter. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into squares; serve with beef.
Yorkshire Pudding Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients with hand beater just until smooth.
Browned Roast Potatoes
8 medium potatoes
Wash and peel potatoes. Put them in a saucepan and barely cover with lightly salted water. Boil until half-cooked (about 10 minutes).
Drain potatoes and put them around roast that has already been in the oven for 15 minutes. Potatoes should cook for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Baste them with fat from meat. Turn potatoes occasionally during cooking and baste again to brown.