Titans Season 1 (DC Universe)

  • Series Title: Titans
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 11
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for the first season of Titans.

One thing that I demand from films, especially films adapted from other media is that they should be able to stand on their own – the audience should not have to “pull knowledge” from other sources to understand the film. For television series, this “rule” can be relaxed a bit since there is more time for the plot and characters to develop and if the audience is patient, everything will eventually make sense. I found that with Titans, even though I liked the show, it really depends on “outside knowledge” – it helps a lot if you’ve read at least some of the Titans (or Teen Titans) graphic novels (or soft books) or at the very least watched the animated series Teen Titans. The series begins with Rachel Roth (Raven) experiencing “weird stuff” and having no idea what’s going on, and Kory Anders waking up after a car accident having no memories at all. And Dick Grayson has quit being Robin and is a police officer in Detroit. So you have a character who has no idea what is happening to her, an amnesiac, and a guy who no longer wants to be a superhero because he’s disgusted with it – leading a superhero series. That would be confusing for some viewers, and others might not like the “but they aren’t acting like superheroes” thing. I found it an intriguing premise, plus the show does move along extremely quickly and there is a lot of development in the plot and characters over the short length of the show. This is a graphic novel for TV.

The first episode focuses on Rachel and to a lesser extent, Kory. Rachel seems to be developing some type of powers, something she doesn’t understand, and something that terrifies her mother. When her mother is murdered in front of her, Rachel runs away and ends up on the streets in Detroit. A homeless food kitchen offers to take her to a youth shelter, but she is spooked and throws a rock at a police car. This gets her arrested and she’s introduced to Detective Dick Grayson. Dick tries to help her, but Rachel, for perfectly understandable reasons – is suspicious. Dick’s called away and while he’s gone, another cop kidnaps Rachel.

Meanwhile, Kory wakes up after a car accident with no memory. The driver of the car is dead, and no sooner does she wake up than another car shows up, and shoots up the crashed car. Kory out of instinct raises her hand and burns the shooters up with bursts of light and heat from her hand. Kory doesn’t understand this but finds a hotel key in her purse. She goes to the hotel and finds out she has the entire penthouse. Slowly Kory starts to figure out a few things, and she realizes she needs to find Rachel, to protect her.

Dick realizes that Rachel’s been kidnapped and goes to rescue her. Kory also arrives and helps. they rescue Rachel and try to figure out what’s going on, including visiting Rachel’s home in Traverse City, Michigan, Dick finds out Rachel’s mom was murdered, something she had mentioned in her initial interview. Dick, Kory, and Rachel discover some mysterious organization is after Rachel. Dick then takes Rachel to his friends Hawk and Dove (Hank Hall and Dawn Granger) a couple who are superheroes and old friends of Dick’s. Hank, however, is suffering from the physical effects of his previous football career and being a superhero. Dawn is trying to get him to retire. They are meant to stop one last gang – gun runners, then move to Minnesota to retire. The Organization sends “Nuclear Family” after Rachel. During the fight, Dawn is tossed off a roof. Rachel also thinks Dick was going to abandon her with Dawn and Hank. Kory leaves with Rachel. Dawn ends up in a coma in intensive care. Hank, understandably, isn’t happy about this.

Kory and Rachel leave, and at a skating ring Rachel meets Gar and they form an immediate friendship. Dick arrives too and they get four motel rooms. But when the Nuclear Family attacks again Rachel simply runs into the woods. She runs into Gar and finds out he can transform himself into a tiger. He introduces her to the Doom Patrol. But when their head scientist wants to do experiments on Rachel, Gar stands up to him. Rachel’s powers start to get out of control, but Dick and Kory arrive. They leave the Doom Patrol’s mansion, and Gar joins the team. Personally, I felt this episode was more an introduction to the Doom Patrol, another DC Universe series, than really an episode of Titans. It didn’t seem to be a backdoor pilot because it was clear the Doom Patrol had been operating for a while, but on the other hand, it was definitely meant to get the audience to watch the next series on DC Universe, which happened to be Doom Patrol.

After the Doom Patrol incident, Dick, Kory, Rachel, and Gar form a solid team. Dick is able to find the “head” of the Organization, Dr. Anderson, when the capture the Nuclear Family after one of their attacks. The Nuclear Family literally has their heads blown-up by Dr. Anderson. But Anderson says he and Dick will be killed by the Organization. Dick fights off a team of fighters well, and Jason Todd shows up, dressed as Robin, to help him out. They go to a safe house and catch up on family business. Dick has Kory bring Rachel to the safe house. Dick also has “rescued” Dr. Anderson and preventing him from killing himself. They try interviewing him and he insists he will only talk to Rachel. Dick is hesitant but finally relents. Dr. Anderson tells Rachel her mom – her real mother is still alive and is being held at a private asylum. The team debates what to do.

Rachel and Gar run off to rescue her mom. They are captured. Dick and Kory discover Rachel and Gar are missing and head to the asylum to rescue them. They are also captured. Dick, Kory, and Gar are tortured, while Dr. Anderson “interviews” Rachel and tries to convince her that her powers can be used for good. Rachel, to her credit, realizes he’s lying. But earlier he had cut his own throat and Rachel had used her powers to heal him – she takes it back and he dies. She takes keys and goes to rescue her friends and her mother – having seeing the torture of her team on Dr. Anderson’s monitors. Rachel with help from her team as she rescues them one by one, succeeds, but at a high cost. Kory because of the torture starts to remember who she is and her mission. Gar during his rescue turns in to a tiger and attacks and bites the man in a lab coat who was torturing him with whips and electric shocks. He’s shocked that he bit someone (mauled and bit them to death). Dick is put through drug-induced psychological torture – when they are leaving his fights with security guards are considerably more violent than they need to be. Dick also has Kory blow-up the building. They do rescue Rachel’s mother though.

Rachel’s mother has a house in Ohio and says they can stay there. Dick decides to return to his job as a police officer in Detroit. At first, everything seems OK in Ohio, but then strange things begin to happen. Soon we find out Rachel’s birth mother isn’t the innocent she pretends and she’s working for Trigon (Seamus Dever) though the series doesn’t quite tell you who he is. Kory’s memory returns and she takes Dick to her invisible space ship. They use it’s computer banks to find out who Kory is and her mission. She is Koriand’r from Tamaran. Her planet names Rachel or Raven the “destroyer of worlds” stating she will be the door that allows a being from another dimension to return. This being will destroy Earth and continue on destroying worlds until it reaches Tamaran and covers Kory’s home in darkness. Kory was sent to kill Raven to prevent this disaster from happening.

Dick and Kory head back by car to the house to talk to Raven, when the car dies. They try to get back to the house, but it’s hidden by a force field. Also, all phone communication is down. Dick runs at the force field and gets through. Meanwhile, Rachel’s mom has poisoned Gar, but she tells Rachel he’s sick, and she needs to use her powers to heal him. Gar is coughing up blood. When Rachel can’t cure him, her mom convinces her to bring her father across because his powers will cure Gar. He does, but he’s also very dangerous. Dick gets into the house but is immediately overtaken by a hallucination. Unfortunately for Dick, he never seems to realize that everything he is experiencing is a hallucination and he gives in to his darker nature – he’s overtaken by Trigon. The series ends on a cliffhanger of Dick being in Trigon’s thrall. There is a tag scene in the ending credits, wait for it!

I did like Titans a lot. It is a good show, with great acting. The series moves quickly. I was glad I’d been reading the Titans Rebirth series and that I’d seen some of the animated series because I was familiar with the characters and knew who they were and their basic plots. One episode I didn’t mention was “Hank and Dawn” which fills in the background of Hawk and Dove as Hank thinks back on his own history while observing Dawn in her coma. Also, Raven tries to psychically contact Dawn during her coma, which does eventually wake her up. When Dawn awakes – she tells Hank they have to find Jason Todd. Hank’s answer is: Who’s Jason Todd?

I liked Titans and I plan on getting the second season whenever it’s available as well as watching the other DC Universe series (Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Young Justice). But I don’t like that the series is on yet another streaming-only channel. This means I can’t get it. I live in a rural area with satellite internet and it is physically impossible to do streaming. The satellite TV system blocks all streaming services by capping data downloads. The nickel-and-diming effect of subscribing to half a dozen streaming services is also a concern for a lot of people I know who are getting tired of literally having to pay a streaming service fee for every show (service) they want to watch. I just end up waiting for the shows produced by any streaming service to show up on DVD or Blu-ray eventually which is usually a 12-18 month wait or more. However, I liked Titans and I will be waiting for the Blu-Ray set for Season 2. I also highly recommend this series. It has a fair amount of violence and some off-screen implied sex, so I’d classify it an Age 15+ series.

 

Death in Paradise Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Kris Marshall, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for Season 3 of Death in Paradise.

Death in Paradise Season 3 opens with quite a surprise. DI Richard Poole returns to Saint Marie from a trip to the UK, only to be murdered during a reunion with friends from his university days. DI Humphrey Goodman is sent to replace Poole and solve his murder. Initially, Camille, Dwayne, and Fidel have no idea what to make of Humphrey – he’s clumsy, disheveled, and disorganized, far different from the straight-laced DI Poole. But Humphrey wins them over by solving the murder of their former DI.

Over the season, I found that I really liked DI Goodman, though it takes a few episodes to get used to his style. Unlike Poole, Humphrey throws himself into island life – trying the local food and drink, spending time off the clock with his colleagues at Camille’s mother’s bar,  wearing more appropriate clothing for the warm weather. He was also married, though in the episode where Humphrey is introduced his wife leaves him a message on his answering machine that she isn’t coming to Saint Maire and she wants a divorce. When she shows up at the end of the season, to ask Humphrey if he wants to “make another go of it”, it’s Humphrey who realises he’s grown over the last year, yet despite her complaints of their marriage being stagnant it’s Sally who hasn’t grown and isn’t willing to try change and new things.

Death in Paradise is also a cozy-style mystery program, as such the detective solves murders by figuring things out in a light bulb moment. DI Goodman still does this, but we some attempt by the team to use forensics, and to interview witnesses. Yet the cases always end with Humphrey having that “I’ve got it!” moment, gathering all the suspects together, and exposing the murderer. Still, I found I enjoyed Season 3 and that after a few episodes, I really liked DI Humphrey Goodman. In many ways, he’s more sympathetic than Poole, at the very least Humphrey tries to fit in with the local culture and his colleagues without giving up who he is. This series is recommended, especially for viewers who enjoy cozy-style mysteries.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 1.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 2.

Book Review – Night Witches

  • Title: Night Witches A Novel of World War II
  • Author: Kathryn Lasky
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/12/2019

**Spoiler Alert** I ordered Night Witches from Amazon after reading about the all-female Russian combat pilot group that fought in World War II. I didn’t realize before ordering it that it was a Young Adult novel, but that is on me, and it made for a quick read. Valya and her sister, Tatyana, learned how to fly at a young age – their father was an air force flight trainer before he disappeared – a victim of Russia’s internal politics. When Stalingrad is blockaded by the German Nazis, Tatyana joins the Night Witches immediately. Valya wants to join too, but at 16, her mother thinks she is too young. During the siege of Stalingrad, first, her grandmother and then her mother are killed. After her mother’s death, Valya leaves the apartment that has been largely leveled, to join the Night Witches. She receives some help from a Russian sniper that took shelter in her flat the night of her mother’s death.

Valya tries to get out of the city to join the Night Witches at their hidden base camp. It’s not an easy journey and for several months she is forced to join a big gun trench. There she loads the guns with huge shells and helps turn the wheels to lower or raise the gun. Valya proves to be very good at shooting tanks and blowing them up. She eventually tries to get to the river to join a ferry that is trying to escape. She is unable to get on the crowded ferry and thus survives when the ferry sinks.

However, eventually, thanks to her excellent work in the trenches, she is given a pass to join the Night Witches. At the staging area, the higher-ups argue about how to physically get her to the base camp. Valya borrows a plane and flies herself there.

At the camp, Valya is first assigned to the maintenance and turn-around crew. She’s disappointed but makes the best of it. Finding the unorganized running to and fro of the crew to be inefficient, Valya comes up with a better way. Her immediate supervisor dismisses the idea – but another woman recognizes a good idea when she hears it and implements it immediately anyway. The new assembly-line type plan, where women work specific jobs instead of running all over greatly improves efficiency. Valya is promoted to navigator.

Valya flies several missions as a navigator, telling her pilot where to fly and dropping bombs on the Germans. In one mission, her friend and pilot is shot – Valya takes over the plane and lands it, despite the damage – but her friend is dead. Valya is promoted to pilot and becomes close friends with her navigator, Galya. On one mission, Valya turns and sees her close friend, Galya, missing from the plane. Fortunately, though, she is found and rescued by other pilots. Valya and her sister, Tatyana also are rivals, until Tatyana disappears on a mission.

The novel briefly summarizes the real history surrounding the siege of Stalingrad, and after the city is freed, the Night Witches become a more general combat unit, but also drop vital supplies to Russian troops. Valya and Galya are on another mission when they are shot down.

When Valya wakes up, she finds herself in a Ukrainian house, being cared for by a strange woman. This woman tells her that her navigator didn’t make it. Valya gradually starts to figure out the issue with the woman – she’s part of the anti-Russian Ukrainian Resistance. Valya also knows that Stalin has decided that all POWs are traitors and ordered them to be killed as enemies of Russia. Valya is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea – even if she’s “rescued” she’ll be killed. Eventually, though, she is rescued by Galya and a small taskforce. Her commander arranges a suitable story to keep Valya alive. When the sniper from earlier in the story tells that same commander he’s seen Valya’s sister in a German POW camp the soldiers are about to liberate, the commander comes up with a plan. Valya, Galya, and a small group are able to rescue Tatyana when she is being moved between locations. Again, the helpful commander prevents Tatyana from being killed as a traitor for getting captured.

The war ends and Tatyana and Valya are given medals by Stalin for their accomplishments as Night Witches.

I liked this book a lot. It’s a Young Adult book, so the horrors of war are downplayed, but the author doesn’t downplay the realities of war so much as to make it sound exciting or in any way a “good thing”. It’s horrible – but Valya is doing her part because it’s necessary. Valya is also interested in the sniper she meets the night her mother is killed, but this isn’t a young adult romance. Valya is frankly too busy to think about boys. The night flying scenes are actually a little vague, but the history of World War II, especially all the details of the Siege of Stalingrad are extremely well integrated into the story. The real history impacts the fictional characters. I also liked Valya, even though, upon reflection, she’s a bit of a Mary Sue. Still, while reading the book the impression is more that Valya is lucky and determined, rather than boringly perfect. I highly recommend this book, especially for pre-teen and teenaged girls.

Book Review – The Man Who Died Laughing

  • Title: The Man Who Died Laughing
  • Author: Tarquin Hall
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/10/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Set in post-colonial India, The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing features a private detective named Vish Puri and his friends and employees. One of the things I didn’t like about the book though is Vish’s employees don’t have real names – they have titles based on what they do. For example, his driver is called, “Handbrake”, his tea boy, “Door Stop”, his undercover operative is “Facecream” and his assistant operative is “Tubelight”. I really dislike this kind of laziness on the part of the writer – at least give your characters names. And if the author thought the reader wouldn’t be able to handle the “exotic Indian names” that’s extremely patronizing.

The story begins with Dr. Suresh Jha taking his early morning walk in a private, upper-class New Delhi neighborhood. He reaches the Laughing Club, a semi-spiritual group that practices morning laughter as a way of relaxing and even seeing the lighter side of life. The group is outside. Dr. Jha joins the group. But after a round or two of laughter, there is a flash of smoke, the members seem frozen in their tracks and the Hindu goddess Kali appears. After this remarkable occurrence, Dr. Jhu is found dead on the ground, stabbed.

Vish Puri had been a friend of Dr. Jhu, a famous debunker of spiritualism, and India “magic” and miracles. Although Vish didn’t agree with everything the “logical” Dr. Jhu claimed (Vish was Hindu) they were still friends, so Vish immediately becomes involved in the investigation. Dr. Jhu had been investigating Maharaj Swami a famous spiritualist who ran an ashram on the Ganges in the city of Haridwar. Dr. Jhu was trying to debunk Swami’s levitation act and communication with spirits and other spiritual “miracles”. He was also trying to get someone from the police to investigate the death of a teenaged girl at Swami’s ashram.

Vish Puri and his friends investigate – interviewing the police, friends of Dr. Jhu, and even India magicians to learn more about how tricks are done. Facecream is sent undercover to the ashram, where she is drugged, sees a “vision”, and is brought for a private audience with Swami. She talks with the dead girl’s roommates at the ashram and learns more about the suspicious death. Eventually, she searches the underground tunnels and office of Swami and finds evidence of how the ghostly vision is created on stage (they really do it with mirrors) and evidence of impropriety between Swami and the young women at the ashram. She’s unfortunately caught but then rescued by Tubelight and company.

Meanwhile, Vish eventually figures out that Dr. Jhu had faked his death and was planning on revealing how it was done on national Indian television. He was hoping such a grand gesture would make strides for logic over spiritualism in India. But as Vish goes to the place where Dr. Jhu is hiding out, he hears sounds of a fight and gunshots. By the time he, his crew, and the police get inside both Dr. Jhu and his partner have been murdered – for real this time.

However, the case against Swami – including how he drugged visitors to his ashram, and the sexual improprieties against young women come to light and he is arrested. He is also involved in “creative accounting”.

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing was a different book – but I found the broken English of the main characters a poor choice. I also didn’t like the job descriptions for names. There’s a great impression of what life in the largest city in India is like. However, the book also has a condescending, patronizing, imperial side to it – as if the British author suggested India wasn’t capable of self-rule after the British left. For the most part, politics are left alone – yet bribes, corruption, and graft are common. One of Vish’s clients even has to pay a bribe to get his children into a good school. Yet, despite their lack of names, the characters are interesting. I liked the short internal case of Vish’s wife and mother-in-law solving, by themselves, the robbery of their “kitty party” (a sort of women’s group with guest speakers and monthly lotto). This book would have been improved greatly if it had been written more from a genuine Indian point of view rather than a condescending British one. Thus I can only give it the so-so rating of 3 out of 5 stars, and not wholeheartedly recommend it. I will say that if you keep in mind the author’s obvious prejudices it’s not completely horrible.

Death in Paradise Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Ben Miller, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

The second season of Death in Paradise is better than the first. The crimes are darker and more complex, and there’s more character development. New father, Fidel, is studying for his sergeant’s exam, which he passes in the final episode of the season. DI Richard Poole and Camille start to have feelings for each other but they ignore them. “Saint Maire” is beautiful as always. The cases involve both residents of the island and tourists.

However, this is still a lightweight series, and almost in the “cozy” style than a procedural. Poole, Camille, and Fidel and Dwayne solve cases by finding the one detail that doesn’t fit. It makes for a diverting hour of television – but it’s not earth-shattering, and the series could do better. In the last episode, Poole is sent back to the UK escorting a prisoner. Camille, Fidel, and Dwayne worry he won’t return to Saint Maire, but of course, he does. And again, the cases are interesting, but at times they are flat.

I do like the cast and characters though, and it’s nice to have a British series with people of color in starring roles who aren’t stereotypes. And the Island itself (actually Guadalupe in the French Carribean) is beautiful. I just wanted a bit more to this series. Still, recommended when you’re in the mood for something light and diverting.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 1.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 6: War Stories

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 6: War Stories
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Aneke, Laura Braga, Carmen Carnero, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Ortiz, Wendy Broome (Colors), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colors) J. Nanjan (Colors), Sandra Molina (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: (Poison) Ivy, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Power Girl, Raven, Zatanna, John Constantine, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), Lt. Francine Charles, Batgirl (Vampire Barbara Gourdan), Enchantress, Ravager, Hugo Strange, Faora Hu-Ul, Ed Nygma, Swamp Thing, Trigon
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/02/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The final volume in the Bombshells series, volume 6 War Stories brings the series to a satisfactory conclusion, although there will be a sequel series called, Bombshells United. This volume largely takes place during the Seige of Leningrad, though there are different areas of the battle. There are also a few flashbacks that largely work.

However, the first story in Volume 6 is largely unconnected. The Suicide Squad (Barbara Gourdan), Ravager, Enchantress, Killer Croc, and Lt. Frankie Charles) sneak aboard a German U-boat commanded by Edward Nygma. They’ve come to rescue Luc Fuchs, an engineer and close friend of Barbara’s. They discover the sub is a ship of tribute to the King Beneath the Black. The Suicide Squad rescues the engineer, foils Nygma’s plot, and escapes.

A flashback introduces Faora Hu-Ul, a Kryptonian, who is the real power behind Joker’s Daughter, the Baroness, Killer Frost, and Hugo Strange. She was hidden in an Egyptian tomb explored by Lt. Charles. Charles hears the warning about Faora, and it is instrumental in her joining the Suicide Squad under Amanda Waller.

But the introduction of Faora Hu-Ul, and the adventure with Nygma are mere prologue – the rest of the book is the final conflict between good and evil during the Seige of Leningrad. This includes magical conflicts. Zatanna and John Constantine are looking for Raven. Raven is looking for her father, Trigon. Supergirl hopes to see her adoptive parents again. The theme of parents, children, and family is strong.

When Raven finds Trigon and confronts him, she is angry that he never took responsibility for the harm he did. Raven is also upset he joined the Nazis. But when Trigon is killed – Raven loses control of her magic. With help from Zatanna and John, she learns to control it. Constantine meets Abigel Kholland who is leading Russia’s magical creatures that escaped the Nazis, including Swamp Thing.

Reaper finds Hugo Strange and kills him because he murdered her family but she is then killed in turn by Killer Frost. Killer Frost is then captured by Lois Lane.

Faora tells Kara (Supergirl) about Krypton and tries to recruit her in her plan to create a Kryptonian Empire on Earth. Supergirl refuses because she’s shocked that Faora destroyed Krypton. Kara feels it is better to work within the system to improve and fix it, rather than to destroy everything. As Raven rejected Trigon, Kara rejects Foara. She even uses Kryptonite to capture Faora, who had become Doomsday, inside Swamp Thing. Kara is also reunited with her foster parents and her sister, Stargirl’s biological father. The reunion doesn’t last, because they sacrifice themselves in the spell to bind Faora.

I really enjoyed the Bombshells series. Volume 6 War Stories rushes to a conclusion but it is still a good read. I felt including a Kryptonian who turns into Doomsday using magic and Raven’s blood was unnecessary. But, on the other hand, Joker’s Daughter and the Baroness had already been defeated. Killer Frost is defeated in this volume, but not before doing a lot of damage. There are also some great panels in this volume (I loved seeing John transform himself into a hare again.) And the art is stunning. And I loved seeing both Supergirl and Raven confront their evil parental figures, rather than just agreeing with them out of hand. However, this volume could have used more character development (there’s some – but it’s mostly a series of battles, including magical ones.) I recommend the series and this volume in particular.

Death in Paradise Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Ben Miller, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

Spoilers for the first season of Death in Paradise

When the British DI in charge of the Honoré Police Station is murdered, uptight British DI Richard Poole is sent from London to Saint Maire a formerly French Carribean island to investigate. Poole doesn’t like the sun, sand, surf, or food. But he’s also a brilliant detective who is excellent at finding the one clue that will help solve the case. In the first episode, a locked room mystery where a man is murdered inside a locked panic room, Poole proves the man was alive when the door was opened and he was killed by a corrupt police officer. This leads to Poole being invited to stay. Also, one of his suspects turns out to be an undercover policewoman, who is then permanently assigned to Honoré Police Station. Two long-time Honoré police officers round out the cast: Officer Dwayne Myers and Officer Fidel Best. The police commissioner from Guadalupe also makes regular appearances.

Every episode of Death in Paradise includes a seemingly impossible murder, yet Poole and in the later episodes the rest of the Honoré police department are able to solve them. Poole, an obsessive man, often notices tiny details about a crime scene, the victim, or a situation in the crime that doesn’t make sense. At first, his fellow police officers are inclined to disregard this “one little piece” that doesn’t fit. But as Poole solves case after case based on the small detail, the other officers start to realize it can be important. Watching Fidel, Dwayne, and Camille grow is fun, though I felt there could have been more character development. Poole also slowly starts to adapt to the Island lifestyle, though by the last episode in the season he is still wearing his expensive and totally inappropriate London suits and complaining about the heat.

The scenery in Death in Paradise is beautiful. Saint Marie is a fictional island, but the show is filmed in Guadalupe in the French Carribean. The sunsets, beaches, water, etc, are beautiful. I liked Death in Paradise but I didn’t love it. The cases didn’t feel complex enough, and Poole’s methods of solving cases had more in common with Columbo than a typical British procedural. On the other hand, Poole is played by Ben Miller of Primeval and Officer Dwayne Myers is played by Danny John-Jules (Cat) of Red Dwarf and it’s great fun to see them both again. Also, it’s impressive to see a British show where the regular cast is mostly people of color. Poole also stands out like a sore thumb and is very much a fish out of water. In my opinion, more could have been done with that, but I’ll take what I can get. Overall, Death in Paradise is a lightweight mystery, enjoyable, but not Earth-shattering.