Bringing a beloved mystery novel series to the small screen has its pros and cons and rarely lives up to the reader’s imagination. HBO’s adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is probably as close to what most fans of the series expected as a TV mystery show can get. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency opens with a two-hour episode March 29th 2009 at 8 with subsequent shows an hour long.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency opens with a glimpse of Precious Mma Ramotswe’s childhood which explains her interest in solving mysteries. The show then has an excellent and clever transition scene to the present and Precious Ramotswe’s (Jill Scott, who is excellent in the lead role) first adventures as a detective.
The first show does indulge a bit in panoramic shots of Botswana early on but they are gorgeous. The premiere episode takes a while to establish the cast of supporting characters before the real detecting starts. If you are familiar with the Alexander McCall Smith mystery novels this pacing may annoy a bit but those unfamiliar with the series are given time to adapt to the cultural changes.
If there is one major difference between the mystery series and the novels is the humor is a bit more present in the TV version. This is not to the detriment of the show, to the contrary.
Pay attention as the major case in this first show is introduced fairly early on. Mma Ramotswe gets involved in a couple of more minor cases before she tackles the big mystery.
Based on viewing the second show in the series, future shows are tighter and better paced.
This TV detective show is a breath of fresh air for those who do not like violence and gunplay in their whodunits.
Subsequent shows include:
April 5th, The Big Bonanza HBO 8 P.M.
April 12th, Poison HBO 8 P.M.
April 19th, The Boy With an African Heart HBO 8 P.M.