Doc On The Box – Death In Paradise Episode 2.1

Death In ParadiseAnd so we come to the second instalment of the rubbishly titled set of TV reviews, “Doc On The Box”, and we come to something that I’ve been excited about for ages – Series 2 of Death In Paradise.

To recap, for those not in the know, Ben Miller plays Richard Poole, a CID detective “earns” a promotion to run the police on the Caribbean island of Saint-Marie. Luckily, he’s exactly what they need, as the island suddenly plays host to a series of Golden Age-style mysteries. Well, I suppose they might have always been happening, but now Poole is here to solve them, assisted by his team, played by Sara Martins, Gary Carr and Danny John-Jules.

The first series was, in my opinion, exceptional. Even the weaker plots were still presented as genuine puzzles and the show was never less than entertaining. But could that success be repeated?

Well, we’re one episode in. One excellent episode in…

Let’s make something clear – this is not Midsomer Murders. The plot is just as important as any other element of the production. There are clues. There are things that you actually see the first time through that take on new meaning during the denouement. And Poole collects the suspects together to explain who the murderer is. And it’s neither obvious or a random member of the cast.

All of the seeds to work out whodunit are planted in the first half of the show, encouraging the viewers to play along – indeed, if you follow @ActualBenMiller on Twitter, he was actively encouraging his fellow twitterati to play along. Admittedly, the mystery required a bit of guesswork in terms of the motive, but that’s not uncommon in the genre.

In this particular episode, the elderly owner of a plantation has called his family to a gathering for an important announcement. But when they grow impatient of waiting for him to arrive, he is found with a machete in his back at a nearby watermill. Of course, most of the family never went near the place at the time of death…

But the plot isn’t everything. The show is full of character and humour and even has at least one ongoing subplot, which I thought, in the final scene, was very effectively handled, when it could have been unconvincing.

In short – the best hour of television not involving a TARDIS for a long time – since the last series of Death In Paradise, in fact.


  1. I’m a fan of this show – so glad there’s a mystery show as opposed to a crime show on air. The bright weather is symbolic of the tone of it – very light and sunny.


  2. Loved last years series, and this one seems just as enjoyable. It’s particularly fun in that it turns a lot of sacred cows of BBC crime shows on their heads (well plotted, funny and with bright skies and sunny beaches instead of rain and gloom.).


  3. I’ve been reding the newspaper reviews for this series, and it is fascinating to see how deeply the average reviewer hates this show. Mind you, the average reviewer is upset by any crime drama that attempts to put plotting ahead of social conscience. They get annoyed by any programme that doesn’t pretend to be ‘realistic’. Fortunately the public loves it!


  4. I thought this episode had some lessons in the difficulties of constructing certain kinds of fair-play mystery on television. The construction of the mystery relied on the idea that it was impossible for suspects to leave the house or enter the mill without having being seen. No doubt this seemed reasonable in script form. But when broadcast, we could see with our own eyes that this wasn’t remotely the case — the house was surrounded with vegetation and the mill with out-buildings that provided plenty of concealment; there were several ways of getting into the crime scene, the sugar cane was high enough to screen someone bending low, the plantation workers were dressed alike, and so on. So what was the audience supposed to make of the claims about opportunity? On the one hand we know that the programme-makers are constrained by the available locations and so might not be able to find anywhere meeting all the requirements of the script. But on the other we know that discrepancies between what characters say and what we are shown are sometimes important clues.


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