by Kathleen Costa
BritBox continues to provide hours and hours of entertainment all with a variety of accents, servings of tea, visits to local pubs, and degrees of emotions. I am fascinated by British humor in shows like the classic Open All Hours (1973-1985) and it’s sequel Still Open All Hours (2013-2019) with David Jason (A Touch of Frost) in the hilarious lead. Many dramas, first introduced to me on PBS or A&E networks, are now available for anytime viewing, binging, and rewatching like Silks, Cracker, and Silent Witness. My passion is detective shows or police procedurals, and BritBox has popular classics like Morse, The Dr. Blake Mysteries, and reoccurring shows like Death in Paradise now in its eleventh season which included an extended Christmas special and eight episodes with much of the cast returning. The reasonable fee (monthly $6.99; special annually $69.99) is one I don’t mind paying for all the benefits I receive. Long live BritBox!
Death in Paradise opens in the midst of the island’s Christmas celebration (2021) with an exchanging of gifts, rum punch, and decorations blanketing Saint Marie island, but it is interrupted by the death of a wealthy businessman at a holiday party. Suicide. DS Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) leaves to spend the holidays with family, Commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington) as Santa and Officer Pryce (Tahj Miles) as his Elf are set to deliver gifts at a hospital, and DI Neville Parker is set to return home for a traditional English Christmas, but a call from Interpol puts Parker’s plans on hold and sends the team into investigation mode. A young man in England received a Christmas card suggesting the man’s death was murder. The reopening of the case as a murder investigation puts a spotlight on the victim’s past, his attorney, ex-wife, daughter, current wife, and even the young man who decides to travel to Saint Marie with the card in question. Commissioner Patterson enlists Dwayne Myers, former officer, to partner with Officer Pryce and look into the curious claim of murder which leads to a shocking conclusion. The issues from season ten with Neville’s feelings for Florence? It has a glitch and remains on hold.
The rest of the season, of course, offers up interesting, complex cases for the team to investigate from kidnapping turned murder, a family dispute leading to a death, a team-building parachute dive has one stabbed, an undercover operation entangles Florence, a rehab center is the site of a locked-room murder, a victim calls the police about a murder, a musician shot at rehearsals, and a chess master is checkmated. The cases are never how they originally appear slowly unfolding evidence revealing multiple suspects and motives posted on the team’s whiteboard. It’s always DI Parker, whose intuitive manner is frustrating at times to the Commissioner and the team, comes to his final “I know what happened” and reveals the murderer in true Agatha Christie, gather the suspects together, fashion.
This eleventh season was engaging with the signature wit, clever intrigue, surprise conclusions, and endearing camaraderie, but the storylines also included a few personal insights into the characters. DI Parker’s sister shows up causing quite the kerfuffle putting him on edge, Officer Pryce is confronted by a former partner-in-crime forcing him to make a choice between past and current loyalties, and the Commissioner is greeted by his past and a shocking cliffhanger revelation. Circumstances have put DS Cassell’s life in danger leaving a hole in the Honoré team needing to be filled by two new team members: Sergeant Naomi Thomas (Shantol Jackson) and Darlene Curtis (Ginny Holder). A Christmas special 2022 and season twelve are set to answer some intriguing questions.
Don’t Miss Agatha Christie!
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (2022) is three hour-long episodes in a mini series adapted by Hugh Laurie (House) from the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. Bobby Jones (Will Poulter), the vicar’s son, hears a scream and finds a man at the bottom of a cliff. He goes to check the man finding him still alive. He sends Dr. Thomas (Conleth Hill) for help, and while comforting the man, he speaks five cryptic, if not puzzling, words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” He checks the, now deceased, man’s pockets finding a pen, a key, a pocket watch, and a photograph of a lovely young woman. Jones is late to attend his father’s church service and leaves the scene in the hands of a passer-by Roger Bassington-ffrench (Daniel Ings).
At the inquest, Jones doesn’t tell the judge the victim’s last words, and an older woman admits to being the victim’s sister and woman in the picture. Afterwards, the victim’s sister asks if there were any last words, offering no insights about what it means or who is Evans when Jones tells her what had been said. Jones also starts seeing a strange man following him. When he drinks a morphia tainted bottle of beer, learns the photograph in the victim’s pocket has been replaced, and questions the suicide of a friend, he and his friend Lady Francis “Frankie’ Derwent (Lucy Boynton) team up to uncover the truth which just might put everyone in danger.
The mini series was well done, complex, true to Christie’s work, and cast with several recognizable actors including writer/director Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, and Emma Thompson. This is quite the respectful nod to Christie’s work…brilliant!
Sparkling Cyanide (2003) Dr. Catherine Kendall (Pauline Collins) stars in the world of privilege and politics. An elderly couple are brought in to investigation the murder of a “powerful soccer club’s manager’s wife.”
Seven Dials Mystery (1981) is a lighthearted mystery movie following young aristocrat Lady Ellen “Bundle” Brent (Cheryl Campbell) who investigates “murders, stolen state secrets, and a mysterious secret society.”
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