Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Series Two Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Armed with a razor-sharp wit (and a ladylike pistol), Essie Davis (The Babadook, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Australia) returns as the glamorous Miss Phryne Fisher, a lady detective in 1920s Australia. As Essie Davis told tellyspotting, “Phryne Fisher is the female answer to James Bond, Indiana Jones or a combination of both.” Based on the popular detective novels by Kerry Greenwood and filmed on location in Melbourne with stellar production values, these sharply written and gorgeously costumed episodes are sure to charm fans of costume dramas and mysteries alike. Produced for ABC Australia and airing on select public television stations, the follow-up to the hugely successful release of Series 1 includes all 13 episodes from Series 2, plus bonus behind-the-scenes clips. Available on Acorn TV.
Show (4 out of 5 stars)
Miss Phryne Fisher is at is again! With her trusty sidekicks and help from the local police, she solves more cases, causes more headaches for the police, and even has time for a little romance. Each episode is a stand-alone with a very small sub-story woven through. At times unbelievable, "Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries" is a fun trip to 1920s Australia, where a lady who lunches is also a lady detective.

I really enjoyed the series. In preparation for reviewing series two, I binge-watched series one and got to know the characters and the format. The interaction between the characters, especially Miss Fisher and Jack Robinson is natural and I loved seeing the innocent relationship between Dot and Hugh Collins. The story lines were fun, though sometimes I found myself wondering why Miss Fisher would ever be allowed to stick her nose into all those cases, and how she got away with breaking and entering, assaulting, snooping and all the other petty misdemeanors she got away with.

On each disc, the episodes are available as a play all feature or individually. If chosen individually, there is an option to turn the subtitles on, as well as an episode summary. Here’s the list of episodes:

Disc One

  • Murder Most Scandalous – When the deputy police commissioner, who is Detective Inspector Jack Robinson’s ex father-in-law, is accused of murder, Phryne Fisher takes on the case. After being approached by Dot’s sister, who is a friend of the victim, Miss Fisher goes undercover at a Gentleman’s Club in order to solve the case.
  • Death Comes Knocking – Aunt Prudence asks a famous psychic to lead a séance in order to find out what really happened to her God son, Roland, during the war. When a cemetery worker is killed outside Roland’s crypt, it leads everyone to think Roland has returned from the grave. Instead, what Miss Fisher and Jack find is a more complicated story.
  • Deadman’s Chest – Miss Fisher, Dot, Aunt Prudence and Jane head for a vacation at the beach and a visit with one of Aunt Prudence’s old friends. When they get there, they find that household staff is missing, items have been stolen and the home broken into. When the staff turns up dead, Miss Fisher connects their deaths to the missing items and the robbery.
  • Deadweight – Miss Fisher gets caught between a gang fight when a police officer is killed and a gang member is also killed in what Miss Fisher and Jack believe is retaliation killing. The clues lead to the carnival where Miss Fisher connects the case to the boxing ring.
  • Murder A La Mode – The partner at a fashion solon is murdered and Miss Fisher takes on the case. Who killed the fashion queen and why? Miss Fisher investigates and finds a secret plan, stolen drawings, mysterious clients and possibly an affair between the victim’s husband and a staff member.

Disc Two

  • Marked for Murder – Days before a rivalry game between cross-town Australian football teams, the captain of one of the teams is found hanging in the locker room. Miss Fisher and Jack try to figure out if the death was suicide or murder. How the victim died isn’t the question… it’s how it was pulled off.
  • Blood at the Wheel – Miss Fisher is on the case when a female race car driver is killed when her car is tampered with right before a race against a men’s racing team. It looks like the race might not go on. Jack is also on the case and tensions between he and Miss Fisher are cause for concern in their flirtatious relationship. However, tensions aside, Miss Fisher and Jack work together to discover Gerty was strangled after her car crashed and find the killer.
  • The Blood of Juana the Mad – At the local medical school, a professor is found dead when Mac, Miss Fisher’s friend, is conducting a class. Beatrice, the “crazy” girl is thought to have some answers and clues lead all over the school. What’s the significance of the missing book that Beatrice has a single page from? Miss Fisher is told by Jack he doesn’t need her assistance and tensions grow between them, still. Of course, she still solve the case and the ice between she and Jack begins to melt
  • Framed for Murder – During the filming of a new silent movie, the lead actor dies and the whole film is put in jeopardy. Miss Fisher, one of the investors in the film, begins investigating and after the director is killed, she decides to direct the film herself.
  • Death on the Vine – Miss Fisher and Dot head to a winery for some wine tasting fun, but instead, they find the man they were meeting is dead. The townspeople are acting strange and the police do not want Miss Fisher’s help. Luckily, she doesn’t listen, and once again, solves the case.
  • Dead Air – Someone is sabotaging new radio stations and Miss Fisher wants to know who! As she investigates, she finds the Jack has already gone undercover as a radio announcer and is on the case. Miss Fisher steps in to help find the killer and in the mean time, becomes a radio serial performer.
  • Unnatural Habits – The body of a girl is found at a home for wayward girls and the new police commissioner takes Jacks off the case. It’s up to Miss Fisher to find the killer and restore order to the convent and the home.
  • Murder Under the Mistletoe – Miss Fisher, Aunt Prudence, Dot and Mac are celebrating Christmas in July by visiting a chalet. When the chalet is snowed in and guests start dying, Dot calls Constable Collins, and he and Jack show up to help. Miss Fisher finds the patterns and it’s not such a merry Christmas in July after all.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The 1080i 16x9 aspect ratio is very good. At times, the picture was a little too dark, but mostly everything was clear and sharp and the colors were beautiful. The sets were wonderful and I could really see the effort put into making them look authentic. Skin tones were natural and Miss Fisher’s paleness didn't look sickly."Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Series Two" is a good Blu-ray to watch.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
"Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Series Two" is presented in 2.0 DTS-HD master audio with English subtitles. The dialogue is clear and background noises blend well with what’s happening in the scene. At no point did I have any trouble hearing what was being said. A couple of times, gunshots sounded a little too loud and unbelievable, but they didn’t bother me enough for it to affect the rating. As all the actors are Australian, the accents were clear and after binge-watching for so long, I ended up barely noticing them.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I really enjoyed the special features for "Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Series Two." I liked the promos and the behind-the scenes looks at the various episodes. Each is available individually or as a play all feature.
  • Promos
    • Welcome to Season Two -- Behind-the-scenes promos of the series, including comments by the crew and the writer of the Phryne Fisher, Kerry Greenwood.
    • Miss Fisher – Miss Fisher talking about the upcoming season and what to expect
    • Dot – A chat with Dot about how she feels about season two
    • Jack Robinson – Jack talks about the upcoming season and dealing with Miss Fisher
  • Behind-the-scenes – 13 behind-the-scenes looks at various moments throughout the season. Including specific scenes from the series: Queenscliff, Boxing, Murder a la Mode, House of Phryne, Football message from Jack, How to become Dr. Mac, the cars, winery, Essie Davis, Polly Woodside, stunts, guest cast, and Christmas.
  • Aunt Prudence’s Christmas Message – Merry Christmas from Aunt Prudence
  • Season’s Greetings from Phryne – Miss Fisher’s Christmas message.
  • Photo Gallery – Photos from throughout the series. Set to the theme song.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
I really enjoyed watching "Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Series Two." It’s creative, it fun, AND it’s based on a book series. I’m a big fan of books and after watching the series, I want to find the books and read them. I hope there is a series three and I hope that it’s showed on some channel here in the United States because this is definitely a show I would add to my DVR.

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