I wanted to share with you all a wonderful series we discovered awhile back: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). It features Essie Davis as the title character Miss Phryne Fisher - a well-to-do femme fatale in 1920's Melbourne, Australia. (first name is pronounced 'Fry-knee,' from the Greek, 4th century BC, after a famous Courtesan. I think the name was vogue for awhile around the same period as Myrtle or Gertrude) Miss Fisher is an upper class but down-to-earth woman of the world. Finding herself with a knack for deduction and reasoning, she often crosses paths (in a meddling sort of way) with Melbourne's Finest: Detective Jack Robinson, and Constable Collins at his right hand. In similar 'Murder She Wrote' fashion, Phryne often finds herself tripping over dead bodies when taking a train ride or out visiting friends. (and don't even get me started on Midsommer, England!)
In true Flapper sense, Phryne is a liberated woman. She goes against the grain of what society expected from a lady in her day - she chooses not to get married, gets romantically involved with (several) different men of her own choosing, practices 'family planning', lives alone, goes out frequently by herself, and carries a gun even. (Only occasionally when she is hit on by a guy that seems barely old enough to wear long pants, do we ask ourselves 'how old is she supposed to be again?")
And then there is the costumes... Oh, the costumes.... they are so lovely. Bravo to Marion Boyce and her design team! A woman of society in that day was expected to have a different outfit depending on the occasion and time of day, so the design team had their work cut out for them. There is an incredible amount of moving between scenes within the series, sometimes within each episode - from traveling, to home, to nightclubs to afternoon tea, and the wardrobe does a great job of keeping up appearances.
|Oh Phryne, you should know better than to wear white!|
|Love this outfit!|
Unlike many other historical mystery series, where you, the viewer, find yourself a little unraveled by things they present to you in wondering if they are being historically accurate, or whether it fits as part of the story, Miss Fisher's drags you in to the story. The supporting cast are wonderful as well, the relationships you find yourself shipping -that of Dot & Constable Collins, the budding feelings between Phryne & Detective Jack. The writers did a great job of translating the Kerry Greenwood novels to the screen.
Interesting tidbits - Prohibition in Oz
One of the things I found of particular interest about this show, was that it is supposed to have taken place about the same time period as another of our favorite shows, Boardwalk Empire. Yet there is little mention of prohibition. On the contrary, they seem to have cocktails quite frequently throughout. It seems that catching up with bootleggers is furthest thing from Detective Jack's mind with all the murder going on. The one exception was of the episode that took place in a speak-easy kind of nightclub, which would lead you to think that they were trying to hide something. My sweetie Chris is from Australia, (Sydney) so we got into a discussion about prohibition between the countries. It seems that prohibition was more of an American concept. Although Australia did practice it, it was done by territory - The people in the different regions voted on it. Melbourne did in fact practice prohibition during that time period. (It was repealed throughout Australia in 1928) However, there are still a few townships near Melbourne that never went back - they remain dry even today
Sadly, Netflix has only made available the first season of Miss Fisher's Murder mysteries, so we must be patient for seasons 2 & 3. If you get the chance - WATCH THIS SHOW - you won't be disappointed!
Have you seen any other awesome historical mystery shows? Please share! Would love to hear about them in the comments.