DVD Review: THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY – Complete first season.

HBO/Warner Home Entertainment
Release date: September 8, 2009
MSRP: $59.99

Based on the novel by Alexander McCall Smith , Agency stars Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe, a young lady that decides, after leaving an abusine husband, to make some changes in her life. She opens a detective agency in the Botswana city of Gaborone. With her is Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose) as her assistant. Together they plan to solve crimes and right wrongs in the male-dominated land of Africa.

The show kind of reminds me of something that would have been on CBS in the late eighties and early nineties (Diagnosis Murder, Muder She Wrote). So it is a little strange to see that it has found a home on HBO, home of THE SOPRANOS and THE WIRE. Instead of cold-blooded killings, we have tea and smiles.

If this sounds a little on the fluffy side, its because it is on the fluffy side. But to be fair, the source material is pretty light hearted. But rather than being inane, it is mellow and pleasant. The show moves at a relaxed, even leisurely pace and slowly heads to what are generally satisfying conclusions.

One upside to this show is that it will help dispel the notion that many of us have that all of Africa is war torn and devistated. It turns out Botswana is a fairly peaceful country with citizens that not only are not killing each other, but also get along (for the most part).

Agency makes excellent use of the setting, with local music, art and customs being put front and center. As much as the show is about the characters, it is also very much about Botswana.

Extras: There are actually pretty interesting. The series is being filmed in Botswana, something that has never happened before. The extras give us a look on the set and show us how important the country and people of Botswana are to the series. This is made clear in the making of featurette.

We also get The Beat of Botswana which shows us the local musicians and talks about how important music, song and dance are to the culture of the country. Very interesting and well worth watching.

The No. 1 Ladies Detectives Agency is a little too light for my tastes, but fans of cozies will almost certainly have fun with it. I do think a little more work is needed to flesh out the supporting cast and give them the fun little characteristics that will make them memorable. But it is a pleasant enough show that will entertain the fans of television’s Jessica Fletcher as well as those that love the source material.

Order season one of NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY.

Jeremy Lynch