As the jolly and familiar Jamaican soundtrack begins, so too does the seventh series of Death in Paradise wash up onto our screens and into our distinctly chilly January evenings, filling us with a warm hour-long dose of entertaining escapism. Its winter broadcast slot has without a doubt been a catalyst for the success of this British-French crime comedy-drama since it started in 2011, but has its undemanding, cliché-ridden and overly formulaic narrative structure had its day?
The changing of actors in the lead role, from Ben Miller to Kris Marshall to Ardal O’Hanlon in the latest series has tracked a dampening of wit and a lesser finesse in the infamous dénouement scenes. The supporting cast, however, is steadfast. In the latest episode, Dwayne Myers’ ‘promotion’ ups the comedic dynamic in the police station, and Commissioner Selwyn Patterson’s dry and ironic comments are reliably comical.
Underlying storylines, meanwhile, provide touching elements. The inspector’s daughter jets off to university abroad, and Fidel’s new fatherly responsibilities add wholesomeness to the script. It’s suitable compensation for the negative portrayal of humanity exposed too often by the investigations, as tycoons, cheats and jealous partners seek violent revenge, recalling a Garden of Eden type malignancy within this paradise.
As we are transported to the fictional Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, a magical, luscious hideaway, we inhale the tranquil lifestyle and let it fill up our usually finely-tuned sleuth radar, honed by the complexities of crime-dramas such as New Tricks. Bewitched by the beautiful panoramas of the landscape, we are content to be passively entertained. If you’re still wearing your tie and jacket, got your work head on and not yet rid yourself of the stresses of your day, then be prepared to get in a flap about the incongruities, the remarkable efficiency of an island’s forensic team and the unremarkable backstories.
But isn’t that the point? The Chief-Inspector, the fish out of water par excellence, with his bumbling British mannerisms and suit and tie despite the sweltering heat, it is a reminder to kick your shoes off, adjust and laugh at yourself sometimes. Enjoy the Caribbean-isms, the peculiarities and let the whole investigation wash over you. Drop the snobbish detective drama moral high ground and sink your toes into this delightful series.
Image: Andibreit via Pixabay