From “Down Under”

Miss FisherMy husband and I enjoy watching British mystery series, and I know a whole lot of other people who do too.

If you extend your search into the further reaches of the empire, there are a lot of wonderful television series from Australia and New Zealand to enjoy as well.

So, to expand your viewing enjoyment, here’s four of our favorites.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: At first blush, this one may seem like a lightweight, a bit of froth. But stick with it (believe me, it won’t take long) and you’ll be totally addicted.

First off, you’ll notice Miss Fisher’s clothes. The series takes place in Australia in the years just after World War I. (By the way, this period of time has been very popular in fiction and the visual arts for a while now.) The clothes from the 1920s and 30s have a very sleek line and the fabrics can be sumptuous, all of which are front and center in the series.

Phryne Fisher is anything but demure. She has a past that she does not retreat from, and she freely chooses her sexual partners for their masculine beauty without regard for anyone else’s opinion. Refreshing.

You’ll grow to like Miss Fisher very much as well as the rest of the cast. They tackle very timely topics and teach you a bit about Aussie history at the same time. This series is fun.

Doctor Blake
The Doctor Blake Mysteries: This one, also from Australia, is a more serious dive into history.

The good doctor is a veteran of World War II, and like so many from that time, he bears invisible scars from his experience.

You quickly find out that he’s a rather complicated man, one who is dedicated to truth no matter how hard it may be to confront. And he has no patience for corruption whether it’s from the police or his social circle.

He’s also progressive in his forensic techniques and insistent on following evidence and facts rather than opinions.

The acting is terrific and so is the writing. This one is easy to binge watch.

Brokenwood • The Brokenwood Mysteries: Among the many accomplishments of Peter Jackson’s version of The Lord of the Rings was making New Zealand a major tourist attraction.

The geography is spectacular, mouth watering, and it shows through on my next two recommendations.

I love Neill Rea, the actor who leads the cast in Brokenwood. He’s rumpled, utterly straightforward (in a good way), funny, sardonic, and a wine connoisseur.

Oh, and he sometimes chats with the murder victims, reassuring them that he will, indeed, found out who done the dirty deed.

800 Words800 Words: This series is not a murder mystery at all. It’s just a great trip to New Zealand’s coast where you sometimes get to hang out on the nude beach, surf, enjoy some good food, and pass the time with all the folks who live in the small town of Weld.

This series takes its title from a weekly column written by the lead character (George Turner) in which he ruminates about one subject or another, always in exactly in 800 words.

George, you find out, is a widower with two teenaged children who suddenly decides to move from Sydney, Australia to the tiny town where he summered as a kid.

This series is one of those “sane people move to quirky village and eccentric characters appear” types. Sometimes they work, as in the British series Ballykissangel or the Durrells of Corfu or the American series called Northern Exposure.

As readers of my Carding novels can attest, this type of setting has a lot of appeal for me.

So there you have it folks, stuff to search out on Netflix or among the DVDs in your local public library.


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