Year Released: 20012-2015
Created by: Deb Cox, Fiona Eagger, Kerry Greenwood
Starring: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Ashleigh Cummings, Hugo Johnstone-Burt
(NR, 53 min. per episode, 34 episodes)
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
"Beside every good man is a good woman and she must always be ready to step in front." Phryne Fisher
Downton Abbey down under. Meet Miss Phryne Fisher – titled heiress, gorgeous fashion plate, fearless detective, and liberated woman extraordinaire.
This delightful Australian television series picks all the classic mystery genre elements and puts them back together in a completely unorthodox way. Or as one critic said,
Miss Fisherhas the witty intrigue of Sherlock, the opulent style of Downton Abbey, and the bombastic feminism of Agent Carter. But there's something gloriously unique about Miss Fisher. Maybe it's the fact that the show features a rare kind of heroine: a woman over the age of 35 who is unabashedly sexual with no desire to settle down, and who isn't punished for it. Kayti Burt
Kerry Greenwood, the author of the novels on which this series is based, explains,
Phryne is a hero, just like James Bond or the Saint, but with fewer product endorsements and a better class of lovers. I decided to try a female hero and made her as free as a male hero, to see what she would do.
Yes, she enthralls the feminists, but Phryne (Essie Davis) has something too few of them have. She is entirely charming, beguiling, and feminine; and not all afraid to use these qualities in any way possible to catch her culprits.
And she does so in style, dressed to the nines in the fashion of the day and place – 1920s Melbourne.
She fights crime and the status quo – all while impeccably dressed in flapper chic kimonos, beaded dresses, jeweled brooches, and cloche hats. LilitMarcus
None of which seem to slow her down, whether Phryne is scaling a wall, racing a motorcar, or going undercover as a fan dancer – although in the last example, with the exception of a few colorful feathered fans, which are quickly discarded, we have more of Phryne in the flesh than in fashion.
As in the whimsical Midsomer Murders, victims meet their ends in ways and places exotic. A guillotine in a magic act reverts to its French forebears, buried treasure and a Spanish dagger bring only bad luck, a factory girl gets her hair caught in the machinery with predictable results, while Latvian anarchists, rival Italian restaurateurs, Chinese opium gangs, hot jazz artists, and Zionists stage bloody internecine battles.
And the frosting on the cake is the great ensemble cast that complements our lovely heroine. Dot (Asleigh Cummings), originally a maid involved in a murder case, becomes Miss Fisher’s companion, her prim Catholicism a foil for Miss Fisher’s more adventurist ways. Neither tries to convert the other to her way of thinking; their friendship is based on mutual respect. But the shy Dot does gradually learn to emulate Phryne’s detective skills, if not her amorous ones, gaining courage and confidence along the way.
All such qualities that are not lost on Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), whose stumbling courtship of Dot is as endearing as it is awkward.
Mr. Butler (Richard Bligh) takes the job he was named for, thinking he will be having a quiet life working for the wealthy “spinster,” but he finds it anything but. The former soldier takes everything in stride, and is never flustered at the exotic assortment of guests that arrive at the door or tumble out of the bedroom.
The two communist cabdrivers, Bert (Travis Macintosh) and Cec (Anthony Sharpe), are there to do the heavy lifting whenever Miss Fisher needs it.
Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) starts off as the rather dour and repressed by-the-rules official who cannot take Miss Fisher seriously. However, as she continues to impress him with her skills and ingenuity, he comes to rely on her. But it is the very slow burning attraction between the two that simmers throughout the series, always making the audience hope for more. Phryne’s amorous adventures contrast with his stoic exterior, but as the series unfolds, Jack becomes more and more interesting and complex, as does his relationship with Phryne.
All 34 episodes from the 3 seasons are available on Netflix streaming. The jazzy opening sequence insists you get up and dance. Don’t wait any longer to sample this delight.
Different Drummer doesn’t know which fits in Phryne Fisher’s hand more naturally, her gold, pearl-handled pistol, or a delicious cocktail. We can only drink the latter, though. Thank goodness Phryne lives in Melbourne, so our flapper doesn’t have to cope with Prohibition.
You will love our Aussie Tequila Sunrise Cocktail. Enjoy.
Aussie Tequila Sunrise Cocktail
The tequila sunrise cocktail gets its name from the way the grenadine settles in the bottom of the glass, giving the impression of a sunrise.
2 measures silver tequila
crack ice cubes
orange juice (about 3 measures)
1 measure grenadine
1 Pour the tequila over the ice in a tall glass and top with orange juice.
2 Stir well.
3. Slowly pour in the grenadine for a sunrise effect. Enjoy!