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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2013

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 "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - Series 1" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-april-2013-miss-fisher

Synopsis

This dramatic TV series from Australia follows Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) who is an amateur detective in 1920's Melbourne.  As the disc cover says, she is a "thoroughly modern" woman operating in a mostly male world.  The local Detective Inspector, Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) is at first put off by her efforts but over time he grows quietly fond of her contributions.  This series includes numerous long and mid range story lines with characters and guest stars galore.  The first season's 13 episodes are presented in 1080i on three Blu-ray discs with some special features on Disc 3. 

Specifications

  • Acorn
  • 2012, Color, Not Rated, 11 Hr 46 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080i
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 2.0 DTS-HD Master
  • Starring: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Ashleigh Cummings and Miriam Margolyes
  • Directed by: Tony Tilse, Daina Reid,etc.
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I enjoyed this series immensely despite that some of the stories become overly formulaic at times.  But the acting is solid, led by the incomparable Essie Davis.  She has excellent on-screen chemistry with her rival, Jack Robinson played by Nathan Page.  She also uses her resources well, particularly Robinsion's understudy Hugh Collins (Johnstone-Burt).  And don't forget that she carries a pearl-handled pistol just in case.  So the stories are not as intricate as the great murder mysteries of the past, but they are engaging and there is a purpose at hand with lessons to be learned.  While the series can be racy at times, it is no where near as extreme as many American TV series have become and I found it largely suitable for kids over about 12.

Technical

The main feature is encoded at 1080i and this opens the door for some softness and artifacting not normally seen on Blu-rays mastered at 1080p.  These issues were seen on my big front projector but were non-existent when watching the episodes on my 50" Kuro plasma at a seating distance of around 10'.  The picture is generally sharp with tame dynamics by modern standards.  It is very watchable.

The audio is lossless DTS HD Master 2.0 and I listened to it in stereo.  It is reasonably dynamic during action sequences with realistic sounds of gunfire, punches and other Foley effects.  Dialog is passably audible, but I considered using some compression to bring up the dialog at different points in the viewing period.  As with the video, the audio is commensurate with a high quality TV production. 

Extras

The special features are upconverted from 480i and include "The Look of Miss Fisher" a 19-minute featurette, "Meet the Creators", a set tour and Cast interviews (Interviews with Davis, Page, Johnstone-Burt and Cummings).