Crime and Punishment

I always have a full slate of television shows to follow, whether I'm attempting to keep up with something that's currently airing, or going back to watch something I missed the first time around. So I always feel a nice sense of accomplishment when I finish off a season, and especially so when I can wipe out two in one day. And hey, if both shows happen to be great, that's just gravy. That's what happened this past weekend, as I was able to tick two pretty wonderful shows off the checklist:


I'd been hearing some chatter about an Australian show called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries that was streaming on Netflix, and decided to give it a whirl. While there are plenty of shows that I like, I'd say it's pretty tough to surprise me these days. And this delightful little show surprised me. Think Murder, She Wrote, but instead of a wise, old spinster in contemporary America, our protagonist is a stylish, fun-loving, wealthy, kind of slutty young woman in 1920s Australia. Phryne (pronounced FRY-nee) Fisher is a free-wheeling woman who manages to balance indulging her hedonistic whims with serving the community as best she can. To her, wealth is useless if it's not put to use buying snazzy outfits, eating and drinking well, and helping the downtrodden out of their jams. Solving crimes is a lark for her, but there's a more serious purpose beneath it. The seasonal arc deals with her attempts to learn the truth about the disappearance of her sister when they were children, and to keep an eye on the man in prison who promises to trade information for leniency. A lot of the show's aspects are standard to any crime-of-the-week programs: Helpful sidekicks, exasperated policemen, a will-they-won't-they love interest, and witnesses who are curiously willing to spill their guts to an interloper. What matters is how a show pulls those requisite ingredients off, and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries does it with a real sense of fun.


The same day I finished Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, I also wrapped up Season 1 of Orange is the New Black. I know, I've been lagging on that one, but the truth is that each episode is so meaty, I often needed time in between to digest them. The need to slow down and really engage is a compliment I don't pay to many shows, but I knew this one was special. After all, I named it my #4 show of 2013 without even having seen the whole thing. Now that I have, I stand by that assessment. This is a show that somehow manages to deftly balance comedy, drama, bureaucracy, sexual orientation, race, gender identity, class, religion, and countless other topics. Every episode feels like a full movie, because so much is layered in. We come to know how these women came to be in prison, and if we can't exactly like or identify with them, at least we get a better understanding of the ways a life can cave in on itself. People love to go on about the spate of male anti-hero shows lately, but Orange is the New Black has an interesting counterpoint: The clueless, spoiled female anti-hero. Piper Chapman may serve as an audience surrogate for navigating the rough and unfamiliar waters of prison life, but that doesn't mean she's the good guy. She can be selfish and manipulative and blindly obtuse. But in her interactions with the best crop of supporting characters on television, we can see her world slowly unfolding. The season ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I'm on the edge of my seat for Season 2.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - Season 1: A-
Orange is the New Black - Season 1: A-


Post a Comment

Copyright © Slice of Lime