Friday, May 8, 2009

TV Series Review: The No. 1 Ladies' Dectective Agency

Based on the popular novel of the same name, this series was co-produced by the BBC and HBO and is currently running on HBO in the States.

If you have read the book, you can jump right into the middle of this series. If you haven't, well, then you might be a bit confused at first. Or wait until HBO recycles the series from the beginning.

Filmed on location in Botswana, the series centers on Mma Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott). (Note: Mma, pronounced "ma," is a term of respect, like "Ms." or "Mr.") After her father's death, Mma Ramotswe sold her father's cattle and moved to the city to open up the first (and only) Ladies' Dectective Agency. She solves cases not by brute force, but through observation and her own understanding of human nature.

Assisting her is Mma Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose). As big and open and relaxed as Mma Ramotswe is, Mma Makutsi is skinny, uptight, and nervous. Even their hair is different: Mma Ramotswe's is a bushy "natural," while Mma Makutsi's is usually pulled tight and pinned to the top of her head. Still, Mma Makutsi was the top of her graduating class at the Botswana Secreterial College and is very efficient. She is also very loyal to Mma Ramotswe, who, in turn, mentors the younger woman.

Mma Ramotswe drives an old right-hand drive truck that needs frequent repairs at the shop of Mr. JLB Matekoni (Lucien Msamati). He is falling in love with Mma Ramotswe, but she has been hurt badly by her first husband and is reluctant to commit. She also has to prove herself as a dectective in a community that is still strongly paternalistic.

Each episode features at least one investigation that's resolved and the continuing storyline of Mma Ramotswe and crew. The series is filmed in Botswana, so there is lots of gorgeous scenery, and the dialogue is in English. What I especially enjoy is that the setting is treated as "every day" (which it is to the inhabitants), rather than as some exotic locale. For example, in one episode, Mma Ramotswe goes to the "market plaza," rather than the mall.

One of the subtexts of the books is how the traditional mores of the community are changing and the conflict this brings between the older residents and the younger. That doesn't seem to be as obvious in the series.

Currently, there are only seven episodes. Anthony Minghella was the director and co-adapter, so I'm not sure if the series will continue.

As a fan of the books, I'm enjoying this series. Hubs, who hasn't read them, will watch the series with me, but it's a bit too "quiet" for him. (No chase scenes, no gun battles or stand-offs.)

On the March Hare scale: 4 out 5 Golden Remotes

(crossposted at The Mad Tea Party)

1 comment:

caite said...

I have not read the books yes, but I love the series. The cast is wonderful!