Shows you should be watching: 'Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries'
Fashion. Jazz. Sex. Feminism. Murder.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries has it all and more.
I kicked off this series on the Feed by telling you that there should be a section of my Netflix called "things my sister got me into." If the No. 1 spot there is owned by the back-stabbing denizens of Spain's Gran Hotel, then the No. 2 spot is surely owned by Australia's Honorable Phryne Fisher, lady detective.
Miss Fisher is the very definition of fabulous, a well-dressed lady of means in 1920s Melbourne (not the one in Florida, obvs) who just so happens to solve some grisly murders in her spare time. But even if just a good mystery isn't enough to drag you in, Miss Fisher's personality and flair probably will. Amidst the backdrop of the Roaring '20s, she's something of a feminist icon, flouting expectation from her dress (she wears pants!) to her driving (she races cars and flies planes!) to her mystery solving (she beats out policemen!) and thoroughly enjoying, ahem, loving whomever she wants. She's traveled the world and speaks Russian, Chinese and more. She drove an ambulance in World War I. She carries a pearl-handled gold pistol in her high-end handbag.
She's not the sort to be held back by anyone or their expectations.
This Phryne Fisher was originally a book character, the protagonist of a popular series of books by Aussie author Kerry Greenwood. When I hit the end of Season 2 on Netflix and thoroughly agonized for more Miss Fisher in my life, I borrowed a few of the books from the Pinellas County library system. (Book Phryne and TV Phryne are both equally fabulous, but the books have less mystery, more sex ... and more baths and naps. Yawn.) Star Essie Davis (Australia, sleeper horror hit The Babadook) really brings her to life.
And though I could rave for ages about how fabulous Davis is in the titular role, it's worth noting that the supporting cast is equally wonderful. Tops on that list is Nathan Page as the steadfast and dapper Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, the head policeman with whom Phryne works and flirts (seriously, it's will-they-won't-they-OMG-get-together-already!). Miss Fisher's right hand woman is Dot (Ashleigh Cummings), a very religious and classic goody-two-shoes type contrasted with modern woman Miss Fisher, and Dot's beau Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt, San Andreas), a shy, bumbling but sweet policeman who's Jack's right hand man. Even the third tier characters are fascinating: Miss Fisher's butler Mr. Butler (yes, really) dishes out weapons advice amidst baking, her "henchmen" Burt and Cec are cab-driving Communists, her best friend is a lesbian doctor, her arch-nemesis a serial killer with delusions of being an Egyptian god reincarnate. (And for my fellow LOTR nerds, Miranda Otto [Eowyn] is in the very first episode.)
The reasons you probably haven't heard of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries are somewhat similar to the reasons you probably haven't heard of Gran Hotel before my gracious introduction. You probably don't watch a ton of shows from Down Under (most of them have a little to too much cheese factor in my experience). Miss Fisher starts off with a little too much coincidence, but quickly gets into deeper, more satisfying mysteries and some of the best cast chemistry I've ever watched. And I'm not the only one who thinks so: The show has exceptionally high ratings on IMDb (8.4/10), Amazon (4.9/5) and TV.com (9.4/10).
You can binge all three seasons of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix and Acorn (a cool service that streams British, Australian and New Zealand shows for just $4.99 a month) or some seasons on Amazon Prime. Seasons can be purchased on Google Play, and it also looks like you can keep up on episodes on iTunes.
Episodes are also airing on select PBS stations.