Last night, the eighth season of Death In Paradise drew to a close. Regular readers to the blog know how much I love this programme for its affectionate embrace of the Golden Age genre, usually with an impossible crime element thrown in for good measure. Add in a good dose of light humour and a bunch of actors who are clearly having the time of their lives and it’s a winner for me every time. Yes, there are plot holes at times, but it’s trying, which is more than the game of pin-the-tail-on-the-murderer that Midsomer Murders rapidly became. What happened to that, by the way? There’s been a series filmed for over a year, but it’s not seen the light of day in the UK at least. Anyone know?
Anyway, back to Saint-Marie, and this was one of my favourite seasons so far. Ardal O’Hanlon has clearly found his feet in the role, and the idea that Jack has fully embraced island life gives him an identity separate from Humphrey, his predecessor. And, with full apologies to Danny John-Jules, but Dwayne who? Shyko Amos is so charming as Ruby, his replacement – well, technically J.P.’s replacement as he steps into Dwayne’s shoes – that you almost forget he was ever in the show. One of the reasons that I just love her performance is that I could easily see that character being irritating in the extreme, but I never found that to be the case. And in her two episodes – I’ll be vague, because, you know, spoilers – Aude Legastelois fits right in too.
But as you may know, I play along with the show and keep score – just because. Last series, Rob Thorogood and his merry band beat me 5-3. Let’s see how the match progressed this year.
Round Episode 1: The impossible bus stabbing. Loved this one, but solved it. 1-0 me.
Episode 2: The impossible poisoned dart shooting. Another strong episode, although the fact that no one ever mentioned the Saint-Marie Zoo before. Oh, and I got this one too. Late, I’ll admit, but solving it during the flashback bit still counts. 2-0
Episode 3: The swimming “accident” one. A rare second death in an episode – but afraid I got this one too. Looking good at 3-0.
Episode 4: Oh, that’s not a good sign. Can’t remember this one. Hang on, a quick trip to the iPlayer beckons. Oh, it’s the Anna Chancellor episode. Yeah, you didn’t fool me with that one. 4-0.
I should just say, that on the verge of a clean sweep this series, I’ve still enjoyed it immensely. Really satisfying mysteries that I felt clever having solved them. Compare this to the first Humphrey series, where I felt stupid if I hadn’t solved it/guessed it/recognised it before the opening credits…
Right. Time for the second half.
Episode 5: The first half of a two parter, but it’s two linked but distinct mysteries. This possibly had me looking the other way, as it was announced as Part One of Two, so for whatever reason, I didn’t really give the mystery too much thought. A mistake, so Robert Thorogood claws back a point. 4-1.
Oh, and that ending…
Episode 6: The second part, and I’m a bit cross about this one, as really, the murderer could have been anyone on the island. But I didn’t really twig the “how” so no points for me here. 4-2. There’s no chance of a comeback is there?
Episode 7: The live on air murder. Right, I’m just saying that my murderer and method was just as valid. Probably. OK, it involved someone faking a vintage reggae single and hoping the victim played it at the right time, but even so… So, yes, it’s 4-3
Episode 8: The dead body in the station. Points off for some of the blandest suspects I can recall, which didn’t help identifying the killer. I half-solved this one – I got how and why the body was in the police station so I’m giving myself half a point. My solution was very satisfying, I thought, but only half-right. So consulting the referee (i.e. me) I’m calling this a score-draw.
So I edged this series 4.5-3.5 and enjoyed almost every minute of it – no one can have enjoyed the end of episodes 5 and 6, surely? Luckily the nice BBC announcer told us that it’ll be back in next year (and the IMDB thinks it’s got at two more series) so only ten months to wait for one of the most enjoyable TV series out there to return.
Unless it decides to reveal that Jack used to be a priest with a troubled past before he became a policeman… hang on a moment! That’s where Sarah Phelps got her idea from!