Do you like me suffer from those awful British January winter blues? You will know what I’m talking about if you do. It is the dull, damp freezing weather coupled with it going dark in the evenings before 5pm, so utterly depressing. Nevertheless, one thing on the telly last winter helped lift me from my gloomy January state. The programme in question was Death in Paradise on BBC One. This sunny crime/crime comedy drama set in the idyllic Caribbean location of San Marie(Guadeloupe in reality), was just the ticket. It has just returned to our screens for a sixth series and so I’ve tuned in again to help lift my soul. Houston, we have a big problem though, I’m now getting a bit bored of it!
My burgeoning boredom comes from each episode having an identical narrative structure. For example, first we get a bit of action, then we get the murder, then Inspector Humphrey Goodman(Kris Marshall) goes around interviewing all the suspects(usually three to five), then at the end we have this overly theatrical summing up scene and a declaration about who the guilty one is of murder. Throw in a bit of comedy from Officers Dwayne Myers(Danny John-Jules) and JP Hooper(Tobi Bakare), together with Humphrey’s Hugh Grant amusing-ish posturing(usually around his love life of late) and that pretty much sums this show up. I moan about this yet still like this drama, but as a consequence my enjoyment is really waning at present. It has just got too samey for its own good,i.e. the narrative structure needs more variation.
Given all what has just been said in the above, then you could describe Death in Paradise as like a fast-food version of Miss Marple or Inspector Morse, i.e over quicker and has less substance. However, perhaps this comparison is a tad unfair. This is because Death in Paradise does not try to be like those two other crime shows. Rather than striving for realism, its strength lies in its comedy and its Caribbean Island escapism.
Yet again, in the second episode Officer Dwayne Myers was the main vehicle for most of the light-hearted moments, thus he remains the best character. An example of this was when he embarrassingly admitted to the other main characters that he did not know where the local library was(the joke being here, his lack of culture and literary knowledge). It is the comedy moments such as this that make up for its lack of realism.
This episode was about the death of a young academic woman called Esther Monroe(Kemi-Bo Jacobs). She had discovered that the author of a famous novel called The Flame Tree, was in fact not the real author after all and so was guilty of fraud. This therefore led to her being murdered and the subsequent investigation into her death. It is the ending of the show that irks me the most, the grand and highly dramatic summing up bit.
I have several issues with the summing up section in every episode, where the murderer/s are revealed to us. Firstly, it is too dramatic that you cannot help but be reminded of the fact that this is just a bunch of actors acting. i.e. I temporarily lose my ‘suspension of disbelief’. Secondly, all the murderers freely attend this gathering up of all the suspects, however surely if you’ve just committed murder then you’d be on the next plane out of there asap instead wouldn’t you?
I also find Inspector Humphrey Goodman’s crime solving a bit too much at times. Yes, he uses evidence to help him but the crimes are more solved by him doing some type of mental arithmetic in his head. It is like he has some psychic crime solving superpower. You just have to go along with it all in order to enjoy this show, placing realism below escapism like I have said. It is easy viewing but just don’t critically examine it whilst you watch it is my best advice.
As episode two ended I sat there thinking to myself, yep, I am definitely getting bored of this now. Furthermore, I also found some of the dialogue a tad on the cheesy side for the first time too. However, at the same I had quite enjoyed it and will tune in again next week for episode three. I quite simply have to tune in next week because after all you see, Death in Paradise is MY ONLY CURE, FOR THOSE PESKY JANUARY WINTER BLUES! 3/5.