Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Series 1 Review

  • Series Title: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
  • Season: Series 1
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: ABC (Australia)
  • Cast: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Ashleigh Cummings, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Richard Bligh, Travis McMahon, Anthony J. Sharpe
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher is a vibrant, intelligent, modern woman, who enjoys fine clothes, fast cars, a comfortable lifestyle, and solving crimes. This series is set in the late 1920s in Melbourne, Australia. Phryne also has a habit of collecting and rescuing strays. The first few episodes of this series feel very much like your typical British cozy (despite being set in Melbourne, Australia) from the 1920s with mysteries set in a manor house, on a train, and in an underground jazz club. But as the series develops it gains depth – and darkness.

Phryne has experienced a lot in her life. She’s been a nurse in the first World War. But the defining moment of her life was when her younger sister was kidnapped and never found. Young Janey’s kidnapping goes from a few mentions as background, to subtly becoming the theme of the season. The penultimate episode features a mysterious death at Phryne’s Aunt Prudence’s house, during which the past is stirred up – and it leads directly in to the final episode in this set.

The final episode has Phryne and Jack investigating the most important case in Phryne’s career: discovering what happened to her sister. It’s a edge-of-your-seat episode, that I’m not going to spoil. But it takes something initially introduced almost as a simple “tragic background” and makes it pay off. This gives the season the satisfactory conclusion of a good novel. There are two more seasons of this series and I very much must see them.

The other theme of this particular season is that of rescuing strays. She meets Dot (Dorothy) Williams who is working as a maid in less than ideal circumstances and brings her in to her own household, as a lady’s maid, her companion, and tutors her in solving crimes. Watching Dot grow and become more independent and confident is one of the joys of the series. Phryne also meets two taxi drivers who share driving duties on their cab – both are unionists and one who is nearly a communist. She employs them to help with the heavy lifting so to speak. When she opens her new house, she hires a butler – named, appropriately enough, Mr. Butler. He reminds me very much of Alfred Pennyworth in Batman – as he cares for Phryne and her self-made family as well as running the household. Finally, Phryne adopts a young ward, Jane, who had been under the control of a Fagin.

Phryne and DI Jack Robinson have a flirting attraction, but it’s not pushed as they have only just met in this season.

Finally the clothes, hats, cars, jewelry, and settings are just fabulous! The filming is also terrific – at times moody, always colorful, and fitting of the 1920s setting. Overall, the series is excellent and I recommend it. I will no doubt purchase the next two seasons soon.