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Review – Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – Episode 12

May 14, 2012

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – ABC1 – 8:30pm Friday – AUS
Episode 12: Murder In The Dark

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has had a string of dud episodes recently and while this episode broke that trend it did so mostly thanks to engaging in the same sort of shenanigans that the penultimate episode of any mystery series would. While a lack of serialization is par for the course when it comes to most mystery shows it has left Miss Fisher’s floundering simply because its standalone storylines haven’t been terribly strong. This episode changed that up but lest we think this is some philosophy change from the house of Fisher we should remember that all case-of-the-week shows try to up the stakes for the finale by finally developing a memory and recalling events of past episodes.

Things didn’t really kick into gear until the end of the episode as everything until that point was business as usual. A dead body turns up in Aunt Prudence’s pool right before her son is due to have his engagement party. Yes, that’s right, apparently Aunt Prudence has not just one son, but two; the suave, ladies man Guy and the mentally disabled Arthur. Phryne interviews the usual suspects about the murder and we’re subjected to the usual faux-wittiness that populates most Miss Fisher conversations – this week a scantily clad woman dropped herself on the lounge in front of Jack and Hugh and said “now which one of you wants to inspect me?” Oh me oh my, this show is almost TOO funny.

The investigation, which in all honesty was completely meaningless and had absolutely no bearing on anything, eventually led to a fancy dress ball where events with actual consequences took place. While it’s unlikely anybody ever really thought that Jane was in danger at least the show tied most of its recurring characters together in an effort to advance the plot. Foyle isn’t dead after all (what an absolute shock this revelation that we predicted last week is!) and he’s after Phryne’s ward Jane. The final race against time wasn’t exactly great television but it showed that Miss Fisher’s actually has a pulse when it tries hard enough.

Even though the back half of the episode was as fun as this show can be it didn’t have much emotional weight thanks to this show’s lack of interest in trivial things like character development. While this episode may add weight to the finale it didn’t build on top of anything substantial. These characters are all so one-dimensional that despite the fact we’ve spent any number of episodes with Jack, Hugh, Dot, Aunt Prudence, Jane, the taxi drivers whose names I can’t be bothered remembering and Mr. Butler I couldn’t tell you anything personal about any of them. Other than that Mr. Butler acts wacky when he eats fudge laced with hashish because isn’t it hilarious when a previously buttoned down character takes drugs and acts wacky?

Each week Miss Fisher’s has fifty-five minutes in which to get to know these characters better whilst they solve dumb crimes. This season, rather than delve into their lives or get to know them a little better, the show has kept them at arm’s length. They are cardboard cut-outs who walk around in pretty outfits. The creators of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries would have been better off investing in a coffee table book featuring the cast in various extravagant costumes because that seems to be what they care about the most and that seems to be what the audience enjoys the most. Why bother creating a television series when you seem uninterested in things like story or character development? The tiny hint of serialization on display in this episode was passed on to this show from every case-of-the-week mystery series to have gone before it. This episode was an example of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries at its best and I hope that sounds as damning as I mean it to.

Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?

This review is part of Change The Channel’s episode by episode coverage of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The full list of episode reviews can be found under Series.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2012 9:25 am

    I’ve recently started watching Justified, a somewhat similar show to this (in terms of structure – mystery of the week with some serialisation) and it is shocking how it just blows this televisual turd right out of the water.

  2. Elle permalink
    May 14, 2012 11:09 am

    I agree that the stand-alone stories haven’t been that strong, although I suspect that the 1 hour limit may contribute to this. I do like the story with Murdoch Foyle though, largely because I think he’s the most intriguing character. I hope his end isn’t disappointing and we actually find out what happened to Janey.

    I didn’t really understand why they killed off Marigold – it didn’t seem to add anything.

    I think the stories are better when they stick to their own stuff (e.g. Foyle) instead of trying to throw in parts of the book. It just doesn’t seem to mesh very well when they try to do both and I hope if they go ahead with a second season, they can have more control over this.

    Have to say too – it’s nice to see a range of different/unknown actors in these roles. I get so sick of seeing the same faces over and over.

  3. May 15, 2012 1:25 pm

    I really enjoy Phryne Fisher Mysteries. They bring you into a time period, the 1920s with grace, wit and souffle light style. Comparisons to Justified and Boardwalk Empire are inappropriate. A case of comparing oranges to apples. Phryne Fisher isn’t setting out to be serious drama – it’s more in the line of Miss Marple, Midsomer Murders, Murder she wrote.
    Entertaining, fun, very watchable but not deeply thought provoking. TV drama consists of many genres -and the trick is to see if the work is watchable, consistent and true to it’s genre and I think Phryne Fisher easlly achieves this. The actors are well cast – Essie Davis and Nathan Page are perfect in their roles and have some serious chemistry. And the clothing and sets are fabulous. A refreshing change from cop dramas, and soapies and mindless reality television. Give Phryne a go !

    • Niesha De Silva permalink
      May 18, 2012 2:30 pm

      Here here Gita Irwin! Agreed…on all counts…as a longtime fan of procedurals and all shows dark and mysterious, Miss Fisher is a welcome haven from the relentless heaviness of other crime shows and performances are outstanding. If you pay close attention to the actors’ nuances of body language, eye contact and well-timed moments of silence (e.g. Phryne & Jack), you learn a lot about their characters without needing overt verbalisation, something that can be irritating and unnecessary if you watch enough shows regularly. As for the ‘usual faux-wittiness’, it seems fitting for the era and I agree bears a similarity to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in its approach to humour. The only thing I concede to, Change the Channel, is that the cast do wear pretty outfits :) I for one look forward to a Season 2, bottoms up! ;)

  4. May 7, 2013 8:24 am

    Sorry for such a late response, but this show has only just finished in the UK, where I am. I think your reviews are a bit harsh….true, the episode at the circus was weak (still not sure who killed the hermaphrodite, or why!) But on the whole, this series has been so much fun! Incidentally, we were never meant to believe that Foyle was dead. After it was ‘revealed’ in the circus episode that he had died, the final scene showed him alive and well, in a ringmaster’s outfit!

    Don’t get me wrong – I like serialised shows, shows you have to pay attention to. The Wire is my all-time favourite programme, but there’s nothing wrong with shows that look nice and give an hours entertainment. Miss Fisher ticks those boxes for me. Lots of fun, great actors, and it looks good.

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