Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Death in Paradise, BBC One (by Red Planet Prize finalist Robert Thorogood)

Here's an Orange review of last night's first ep of Death in Paradise on BBC One.

There's obviously been a lot of interest in this series from a screenwriting point of view, as it came about through its creator, Robert Thorogood, getting the opportunity to pitch the idea to Tony Jordan via the Red Planet Prize.

There's a short article by Robert here, as part of the press pack for the series.


About 15 minutes into tonight's first episode of Death in Paradise, my mind was already beginning to drift towards the kettle. As London copper DI Richard Poole (played by Ben Miller) reluctantly arrived at an idyllic Caribbean island to help investigate a murder, we were battered over the head with every cliché imaginable about uptight Brits and laid-back islanders. 

But then something quite remarkable happened. A contemporary TV detective actually started to do a bit of detective work! Poole looked for clues and made razor-sharp deductions, rather than crawling into a whisky bottle and sulking about his disintegrating marriage or that terrible thing that happened to his sister when they were kids.

However, while Poole's sudden transformation into the Greatest Living Detective was good news for the episode, it also left me scratching my noddle a bit, as up to that point he'd been depicted as a bit of a clot whom his colleagues back at Croydon had been glad to see the back of.

Anyway, the story moved on at high speed, as it looked like the murder victim, a senior police officer (Hugo Speer), had been involved in a bit of people-smuggling with local toff James Lavender (Rupert Graves), as well as a bit of how's-your-father with the latter's wife Sarah (Coralie Audret).

With a refreshing lack of ludicrously flashy technology, Poole and his local colleagues had to crack the case together the old way, and when Lavender turned up dead as well, I was suddenly interested: I'd assumed Graves would be round for the whole series, and it was nice to have my expectations tinkered with.

The whole thing looked like money for jam for Miller, who didn't have to stretch himself much in playing the abrasive but sporadically brilliant Poole, while the rest of the cast, including Don Warrington and Red Dwarf's Danny John-Jules, brought a lot of charm to the low-intensity local law-enforcers.

This opener could have been a lot better, by losing the Malibu ad clichés, but it could also have been a lot worse, although the twists of the story and the final revelation did take a bit of swallowing. Still, Lenora Crichlow deserves a mention as the frustrated and undervalued PC Lily Thomson.

For all the postcard gloss of its setting (the series was filmed in Guadalupe), Death in Paradise – created by new writer Robert Thorogood – looks like it should be an engaging if undemanding old-school show, and having a fresh case each week should provide a bit of variety.

Now let's just hope they don't swap the “fish out of water” clichés for the “unlikely partners” clichés that look like they might be heading round the corner.

1 comment:

Janice Okoh said...

Reminds me of poirot.