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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries 1'
(Essie Davis, Nathan Page, et al / 4-Disc / Not Rated / (2011) 2013 / Acorn Media)

Overview: In 1920's Melbourne, the Honorable Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis, Girl with a Pearl Earring) is a thoroughly modern woman operating in a mostly male world. The glamorous “lady detective” goes about her work with a pistol close at hand—and, more often than not, a male admirer even closer!

DVD Verdict: I actually came into this new TV series thinking it was yet another British period pice ala Miss Marple. But, how wrong I was as it is actually set in Melbourne, Australia and the female detective is young, very pretty and possibly a little to daring for her own good!

We open given the knowledge that the Hon. Phryne Fisher has returned to Melbourne after many years abroad. Given that her main concern is the killer/kidnapper of her little sister that is about to get released from jail on no evidence, met at the CGI-drawn docks by her female "Dr. Watson" (for the first episode, anyway), in this first episode 'Cocaine Blues' she settles into a mystery rather quicker than even she expected! Given an invite to an old friends dinner party, she arrives to find he has died. Well, been poisoned, more is the case. Soon a twisty and turny link to a chain of murders and a Russian bathing house reveal an underground level of a deadly opium syndicate and an illegal abortion ring! As for the actual whodunnit, well, never saw that coming!

In 'Murder on the Ballarat Train,' Miss Fisher is now all moved into her posh house, and even has a butler called, wait for it ... Mr. Butler! She has also brought with her Dot (Ashleigh Cummings), the maid let go in the first episode, and her trusty cab drivers Bert (Travis McMahon) and Cec (Anthony Sharpe). The couple board a train to Ballarat in order to collect her new Hispano-Suiza sports car, but when someone goes missing from the train, and another is found knocked out, Miss Fisher swings into action. An undercurrent of street urchins (child pickpockets) means that after a body is later discovered dangling from the water tower along the line, and the fun-to-watch-unravel murder is solved, Miss Fisher adopts the young waif named Jane (Ruby Rees Wemyss).

In 'The Green Mill Murder,' Miss Fisher (first name Phryne) is at one of Melbourne's most decadent new speakeasys, The Green Mill when a man is killed on the dancefloor right in front of her. A bit of a slowburner this one, it does however feature some lovely 1920's jazz sounds. And some wicked trumpet work! A story of in-house blackmail and old family friends, it is followed by 'Death at Victoria Dock,' which pairs Miss Fisher with Detective Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). Whilst she investigates the disappearance of the daughter of an automobile factory owner, himself knee deep in a workers strike, Miss Fisher witnesses a shooting on the docks - and gets herself into some deadly trouble.

Now hunted by some Latvian anarchists, some of who are striking on Victoria Dock, others who are Revolutionists trying to derail the cause for their own good, Miss Fisher once again finds "love" along the way; just with all the wrong men, as always! With an underbelly of religious connections, it is a deep and twisty tale this one! In 'Raisins and Almonds,' at the end of a Jewish art auction, a death is announced - and Miss Fisher is right there! The cab drivers are at odds with each other (think Laurel & Hardy) and Miss Fisher finds herself jumping across rooftops in the dark, dodging bullets!

In 'Ruddy Gore,' a ghost is haunting an old theatre putting on the old Gilbert & Sullivan play. And then not one, but the second lead actor both get killed and suddenly Miss Fisher is neck deep in a 20 year-old murder mystery. In 'Murder in Montparnasse,' we get to know more about our sub-characters here - especially the cab drivers. But, we also discover that Miss Fisher's post-war occupation was as an artist's model in Paris. To an artist that was killed 10 years prior.

In 'Away With the Fairies,' a woman who works for The Woman's Choice dies of poison, but it has more to do with a cover up, as we find out. The trouble with this episode is that once a clue is dropped like a sledgehammer from a great height around a mere quarter of the way through, you know a) who did it and b) why! The series then comes to a close with such episodes as 'Queen of the Flowers,' 'Death By Miss Adventure,' 'Blood and Circuses,' 'Murder in the Dark' and the truly fun 'King Memses' Curse.' These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

The Look of 'Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries' (19 min.)
Meet the Creators (5 min.)
Set Tour (4 min.)
Cast Interviews (8 min.) and more!