hello. it's burkie! i'm here today to talk about The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. i know, i recently commented that nobody here blogs about manly shows or movies, and here i am guestblogging about what is decidedly not a manly show. so why did i watch it and decide to blog about it?
first off, full disclosure: i'm a fan of the books by alexander mccall smith, even though i've never read them. i have listened to them on CD. they are read by an actress from South Africa and she really brings Botswana alive. yes, Botswana. i knew next to nothing about Botswana until i started listening to these books; now, i'm in love with it.
i don't have HBO, so i had to wait for the DVDs to watch the television series. the series is shot entirely in Botswana, and the first episodes were directed by anthony minghella (best known for directing & winning an oscar for The English Patient, which is one of the most beautifully shot films i've ever seen) before he passed away.
so, back to it. the protagonist (Precious Ramotswe) is played by american singer Jill Scott, who does a very fine job indeed as Botswana's first and only lady detective, but the secondary players shine as well: Anika Noni Rose as Grace Makutsi, Lucian Msamati as Mr. JLB Matekoni, and Thabo Malema & Tau Maserumule as Mr. JLB Matekoni's apprentices. these are gentle mysteries--also called cozies--that do not feature violence or sex. soft-boiled, as it were. it's not surprising that when i go to the HBO homepage for its series, this show doesn't even appear on it. this is not the Sopranos. given that, and the fact that it's about a country in Africa that few people know about, and that it doesn't feature vampires, i guess even HBO doesn't expect it to do well. i've heard that it's been picked up for a second season, though, so hopefully word of mouth is helping out.
as fine as the performances are, the real star in this series is Botswana in particular, and Africa in general. we hear/read so much that is negative about Africa--civil wars, exploitation, famine, poverty, etc. this series really exposes the heart of an African country, and it makes you care. perhaps it is a little idealized, but that's okay. the series doesn't shy away from some of Africa's problems, either. domestic violence and the AIDs epidemic are treated with gravity and heartbreak.
so, do yourself a favor and check out this series. it is not only entertaining TV; it is important TV.