by Kathleen Costa
BritBox is an extraordinary streaming option for Anglophiles, and one of which I have been a member for a reasonable fee that you can choose to make monthly ($6.99) or annually ($69.99) for a discount. For several years I’ve enjoyed their extensive library, updated regularly, with access to decades-old favorites or “fresh out of lockdown” TV shows, mini series, and movies to meet my every mood: comedies, dramas, mysteries, or nail-biting police procedurals. Current seasons for many favorites effected by the pandemic are now becoming available along with adding final seasons for past series out of production. Get an introduction, catch up, or binge many personal favorites watching anywhere on any device with good video and audio quality for perfect entertainment!
Death in Paradise is a popular cozy gem based on the books by Robert Thorogood and set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie with tropical breezes, sandy beaches, spicy treats, and murders enough to match Midsomer County. Over the past several years, Police Commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington) used his authority, and a bit of horse trading, to acquire the required detective from Britain to lead the police squad at the Honoré Station. He has, however, found regret dealing with some of their personalities, and although he questions their abilities, he is pleasantly surprised at their results. First, there was Detective Inspector Richard Poole (Ben Miller Season 1-2), properly dressed in a suit, who complained as much about the environment as there are shells on the beach. Next, DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall Season 3-6) whose quirky appearance matched his attitude and investigative technique. Then, DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon Season 6-9) took the reins, joining in a bit better with the culture, but still brilliant in his deduction. Now, DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little Season 9-10), the most difficult for the commissioner to adjust to, is allergic to everything, hates all creepy crawlers, and refuses to eat anything but chicken and chips. Yet, however oddball, he has excellent skill, insights, and humility.
The recent Season Ten includes more clever attempts to confound the team, but it’s the team that is having issues. Officer Ruby Patterson (Shyko Amos Season 8-9) has decided not to return leaving the team is one officer down. That replacement comes in the form of the streetwise, charismatic Marlon Pryce (Tahj Miles) who’s unfortunately set for jail time. Sergeant JP Hooper (Tobi Bakare) recognizes the kid’s had it rough and tries to encourage a straight and “legal” path, but making him an officer in training under his direct supervision isn’t the path he pondered. Of course, the young man describes his officer-in-training scheme as “a sweet deal” and one that keeps him out of jail, but if he puts a year’s time in “playing a cop,” he then would be free to go back to doing whatever he wants. However, Marlon seems to have the right instincts to make him a good cop. DI Neville Parker is a clever, yet complicated, leader, with the “I got it” attitude to bring many cases to an arrest. However, he’s discovered DS Florence Cassel (Joséphine Jobert), his colleague and his partner, is also his…heart’s desire. Due to the pandemic the number of episodes were reduced leaving unresolved serious questions about young Price’s continued participation as an officer-in-training, and does Neville reveal his feelings to Camille knowing someone from her past has shown interest? Stay tuned for season eleven.
ICYMI—Cast members from previous seasons make a guest appearance. DS Camille Borday (Sara Martins) returns when her mother Catherine is attacked, and DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller) appears as Camille’s inner voice…clever!
New Tricks is a gem of a detective show with all the right elements: brilliantly written with clever cold case mysteries, cast with excellent actors to portray various personalities that seem almost written for them, and witty humor to which any baby boomer will identify. The series began with a problematic incident putting Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) in the dog house. However, she’s too young for early retirement and firing her is out of the question, so…reassignment? She is put in charge of a new task force called the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) with the mission as “a team of dedicated personnel re-examining other open cases.” Active duty officers aren’t available, so a trio of retired, slightly flawed, detectives (James Bolam, Dennis Waterman, and Alun Armstrong) are reactivated, not as badged detectives, but as consultants with benefits. They’ve had some growing pains within the team and with the hierarchy, but their success rate has been one they are very proud of, even if they don’t get the accolades. As they clear up several cold cases, some with which they had personal experience, giving closure to many surviving family members, some colleagues have difficulty dealing with their original failures.
The remaining six seasons (2010-2015) join the first six seasons (2004-2009; Reviewed HERE) to complete the series with more compelling cold cases from a few years to decades to over a hundred years unsolved…totally binge-worthy as I can attest. The cases were always compelling, fascinating methods to reinvestigate, continued old school vs new school conflict causing a bit of trouble, and more often a surprise ending, but always includes a trip to the pub to gather their thoughts or celebrate their success. The original cast, however, is what has made me an eager fan, but starting in season nine changes began with the slow and sad departure of three favorites (James Bolam, Alun Armstrong, and lastly Amanda Redman). Dennis Waterman is the only cast member to be active to the end with Denis Lawson (season 9-4), Nicholas Lyndhurst (season 10-5), and Tamzin Outhwaite (season 10-9) joining the cast. Although the stories in seasons 11-12 were still compelling and engaging, I was disappointed with the changes, and reports at the time, blame the changes in the cast for the drop in popularity and ultimate cancelling of the show. Although all good things come to an end, I am thrilled with this series as it’s made my Top British Invasion for 2021!
BONUS: I dare you to not tap your foot and sway back and forth to the opening and closing theme song. The vocals of “It’s All Right” are performed by Dennis Waterman who plays Ex-DS Gerry Standing. Here is the YouTube version of the extended song:
YouTube “It’s All Right” (2:22). Check it out!
Other Brilliant Shows!
Hilarious Hit! Good Neighbors (aka The Good Life) earns 5+/5 Lifestyle Changes A quartet of fabulous actors (Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Paul Eddington) made this 1975-1978 gem a top repeater. For thirty episodes, the Goods work to be true to the lifestyle change they’ve chosen. Tom is fed up with his job, quits with the blessing of his wife Barbara, and together they become self-sufficient giving up modern conveniences, growing their own fruits and veggies, and raising chickens, pigs, and Geraldine the goat. Off the grid before “off the grid” was a thing, their neighbors and best friends believe it’s a phase, but it’s all great fun and true to the 70s in fashion, mores, and always a drink after work.
Fashionable Soap! The House of Eliott Earns 5/5 Flapper Fashions Jean Marsh, OBE, and Dame Eileen Atkins created this 1991-1994 gem (34 episodes), an intriguing look at the 1920s with the Eliott sisters, Beatrice (Stella Gonet) and Evangeline (Louise Lombard). After their father’s death, they are left with nothing, but debts, and decide to try to establish a dressmaking business in London hoping one day to own a haute couture fashion house. Adding to the drama are photographer, film maker, and investor Jack Maddox (Aden Gillet) and Florence Ranby (Maggie Ollerenshaw) who runs the fashion house workroom.
Coming Soon Treasures!
McDonald & Dobbs (Season 2 2021) The quirky Dobbs (Jason Watkins) is back to partner with DCI LaurenMacDonald (Tala Gouveia) to solve more homicides.
Whitechapel (Seasons 1-4; 2009-2016) Yes, it’s that Whitechapel, but with its own murder spree challenging DI Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penny-James) and his team.
Bergerac (Seasons 1-9; 1981-1991) OMG! John Nettles (DI Tom Barnaby from Midsomer Murders) had been another detective: recovering alcoholic who prefers to do his job…his way!
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