Channel: BBC One
Cast: Ben Miller, Sara Martins, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr
Reliable. That is the best way to describe BBC’s detective series. Very reliable, like anything British.
Whether you take that as a good thing or bad thing is up to you. Every episode offers the same premise, but with very different cases. It will feature a murder that is supposedly impossible to solve, usually with one little, seemingly insignificant detail that niggles at Chief Inspector Richard Poole. The answer is usually much more complicated than it all first seems. Despite the same structure in every episode, the cases are so intricate, that you have got to appreciate the skill behind the script. This is the kind of series that the BBC does best and Death In Paradise is rounding up to be the best detective series out there right now.
It does suffer from being one of those series that needs a certain mood to hit the spot. Sometimes I am watching it and rolling my eyes at the amount of clichés that the story comes out with. The eureka moment can feel clichéd and it is hard not to scoff at the ‘someone in this room is a murderer’ endings. However, other times, I just get the style of the script. This is not a series falling back on clichés; it is a series that celebrates the British detective genre and does a very good job at keeping it fresh and exciting.
The key difference is that this series is set in Sainte Marie, an island in the Caribbean, yet it somehow manages to keep this sense of Britishness. This is mainly due to Ben Miller’s performance, who represents everything about the awkward, stubborn nature of the Brits. It is a role made for him: he gets to show off the comedy muscles that have got him to where he is today, yet he is able to express his serious side with some of the deeper plot points. I imagine it is a very comfortable, fun series for Miller to work on.
The series also seems to keep up the British faces on the island, despite it getting kind of ridiculous that there are so many Brits living on the island. Soon, we won’t be allowed over there, because this show makes it look like murders just happen around us. We get some big faces in this season, like Sean Pertwee, Matthew Horner, Dexter Fletcher and many more. Sadly, they usually do little more than provide a famous face for the show. Dexter Fletcher, in particular, was wasted, getting the part of a potential suspect and little more.
As Season 2 progressed, I began to get a little disappointed. As a second season I was expecting the stakes to be raised slightly, but the storylines changed very little. The relationship between Poole and Camille got a little closer, but the only character to really get any development was Fidel, who contemplates taking his Sergeant exams. The lack of progress was evidently clear on the final episode. Sure, the case was a little tougher to crack, but when put in the familiar chain of events we expect from the typical episode, the added tension wasn’t really clear. The episode did spend the last ten minutes, taking the audience for a red herring ending, but other than that, little was changed. I was expecting a big finale and the season suffered without it.
However, despite the lack in progression, it is a reliable hour of fun. Like Richard Poole, we are given a puzzle and it is enjoyable, trying to get there, before he does. In Season One, I managed this three out of eight times, but this season, Richard Poole had a clean sheet, the cases stumping this viewer. I am glad that the BBC have commissioned a third season, as I cannot wait to get back to Sainte Marie with Poole and the team.
I will say this though: the stakes need to be raised. At least give us a good finale episode. One of the cases could have a personal stake in it (maybe Poole himself is the main suspect), or maybe Poole goes to London and the team struggle without him. Maybe one of the team is killed off? I will leave it to the writers, but I want the third season to try and be a bit more experimental. I love Death In Paradise, but I am worried it could get old fast.