Doc On The Box – Death In Paradise Series 5, Episode 1

Ah, the island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean – the murder capital of that region, it seems, the place where foreigners (mostly British ones) come to commit cunning murders without reckoning on the fact that Saint-Marie is the place where the UK send their most cunning detectives. First Richard Poole (aka Ben Miller) and now, in his third series, Humphrey Goodman (aka Kris Marshall). Regular readers know that I love this show and I was looking forward to something a little more substantial after the disappointments of the rest of the viewing week.

A novel setting for an impossible crime kicked the series off last night. A diving crew are out at a coral reef. Four divers go underwater together, leaving the team leader on the boat. They surface together only to discover that he has been shot and the boat ransacked. No other boats were in the area, so how did someone break away from the group to commit murder? And why is there a toy soldier on the floor of the cabin?

Robert Thorogood has set himself a high bar, with the recent The Killing Of Polly Carter – a truly outstanding mystery novel – but here we’ve got a small cast of suspects (four) so it can’t be too hard to work it out, can it?

First off, it’s so good to see a show with so much plot packed into it, compared to other mystery shows. Everyone has at least one secret to hide and everything important is resolved by the end of the episode. And there’s still time for some development with the cast, whether its Humphrey’s new boat (which I do hope we see more of), Dwayne and JP’s bonding session in the lock-up or Florence’s… actually, she mainly gets a great little action sequence, but there’s also a nice bit with Humphrey where he demonstrates his faith in her abilities (or possibly his inability to realise that only he has worked out what’s going on). The cast are clearly enjoying themselves and that always makes things fun to watch. Oh, and let’s not forget Don Warrington as Commissioner Patterson, generating the best line as Humphrey speculates on what exactly he does apart from appearing in their office every now and then. And it’s nice to see Dwayne and Humphrey just hanging out together.

Oh, and the mystery? As with most impossible crimes, it’s a variation on an old chestnut, but there was enough variation here to fool me. The bit with the soldier was so simple that it really impressed me. I was sort of looking in the right direction but I do like to keep score with this series. Last series started strongly but ended up being a 4-4 draw. This series… well, it’s off to a good start. 1-0 to Robert Thorogood and company.

So, after a disappointing week, it’s great to see that Death In Paradise is still easily the best of the bunch. Looking forward to the next seven weeks “competition”. Bring it on!

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10 comments

  1. I’m watching the penultimate episode of the second season as I’m typing this post… I’m enjoying the mysteries so far, and I’m glad to hear that there is a fifth season. 🙂 Based on the photo in this blog entry, have Fidel and Camille made an exit…?

    One thing I would say is that I wished I had watched an episode or two prior to reading ‘Meditation on Murder’: in retrospect, I daresay I got the wrong mental impression of Fidel and Dwayne throughout the novel!

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    • As has Richard, as well. But I won’t say when or how any of them leave – at least one of them caught me by surprise…

      And vague apologies for the photo-spoiler, but it was three years ago and it’s not as if I told you who the murderer was 🙂

      Oh, and stick with it through the third series as the quality of the mysteries drops a bit – the fourth series is excellent, puzzlewise.

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  2. No worries about the photo spoiler. 🙂 Over two seasons, I grew to enjoy every member of the team as distinctive and endearing individuals, and as such I approached the start of the third season with some amount of trepidation. The first episode was very sad for me, and I was surprised that the producers didn’t milk it further – but then again that might have traumatised the viewers and alienated them from Humphrey.

    I managed to solve one of the episodes in the third season quite early on, which suggests to me that the quality has dipped. But then again, having read Berkeley’s famous novel, I guessed that it had to be one of the solutions offered in that novel. (Trying to be cryptic here…)

    Will press on with the third season!

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  3. Ep 3 (the fashion show) was kind of easy to guess but Ep 2 fooled me. The m.o. was quite similar to an episode of Jim Hutton’s Ellery Queen series but I still didn’t see it coming. I should have: they even named one of the characters “Ellery!”

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