“Miss Fisher’s Muder Mysteries Set 1”, based on the books by Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger, revolves around the personal and professional life of Phryne Fisher, a glamorous private detective in 1920's Melbourne. The seemingly fearless socialite and heiress Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis, “Australia”, “The Girl With A Pearl Earring”, “Matrix: Reloaded") sashays around solving different murders and confronting mayhem. Unlike heroines of a similar background, Miss Fisher is a completely modern woman. She has a healthy libido and does not hesitate taking any man who catches her eye to bed; she also has a taste for alcohol, cocaine, and hash brownies.
We meet her as she moves back to Sydney, Australia. As the series evolves, we learn that she served as a nurse during the war before settling in Paris when her ambulance group disbanded. Although she grew up in relative poverty, because of extensive casualties within her family during the war, she inherits enough money to enjoy a life of leisure.
Her investigating career begins by accident during lunch at an old friend's house; she arrives to find her friend’s husband has been murdered. In the process of uncovering the culprit, she has time for a fling with an expatriate Russian dancer and to expose an illegal abortion ring and a drug kingpin. Flushed with her success she decides to go into business as a private detective.
She takes on one of the maids from the household of the murder victim as a lady's companion. Dorothy "Dot" Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) is a rather naive and sheltered young woman who has had a very strict Catholic upbringing. She is also slightly in awe of her employer’s freedom and over the course of the series, we watch as Dot loses some of her naivety and discovers her own strengths and courage.
The other two main characters are members of Sydney's finest; Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) and Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt). Initially Robinson treats Miss Fisher as one might expect from an experienced police officer of the 20s confronted with what he considers a socialite out looking for thrills. However, he soon grows to respect and admire her, both for her skills as a detective and as a person.
This series is special because of the acting and the relationships between the characters. The two leads have a wonderful chemistry reminiscent of some of great screen couples of the past. Although Miss Fisher has a rotating series of lovers, her relationship with Inspector Robinson gradually evolves into something more than just colleagues and friends. However, both of them are hesitant about making any sort of commitment because of events in their past. It is obvious they have reached a point where they have to make a decision about the direction of their relationship, but what that will be is still in up in the air.
“Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries” is a well scripted and directed set of 13 murder mysteries on four DVDs, but what makes it a joy to watch are the performances of the lead actors, especially Davis. She is beguiling and a pleasure to watch. If you have ever seen a Poirot or a Marple on PBS, this series gets the attention to detail just as right, making the period of time come alive. But the real difference is in the portrayal of the lead; this is a very modern woman, ready and willing to try anything and to get her hands dirty. Not only does she play the flighty socialite to perfection, but she has the ability to allow us to see beneath her devil-may-care exterior to show the vulnerable and sensitive person beneath. It's not often we are treated to such a strong multi-dimensional female character in the lead role of a television series, played by an actor more than equal to the task.