Recovering from a stomach virus, Sunday was a TV day for me. Flipping through the channels I found myself watching the Sex and the City movie. (Hey, it’s not like I paid for ticket; and Jennifer Hudson’s part was embarrassing. Her rented bags and then so happy to get her very own Louis Vuitton. In the words of Mark Jackson, “You’re better than that.”) That served as a warm up for Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose in The The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Based on the series of ten novels by British author Alexander McCall Smith, the HBO screen adaptation is simply one of the most refreshing shows on TV at the moment.
Filmed on location in Botswana, JIll Scott is fantastic as Mma Precious Ramotswe. Precious inherits 180 cows after her father’s death that she sells at auction. She has the audacious idea to start a detective agency to help the people of the country she loves and because as she says, people want to know why things happen. With a cup of bush tea she sits outside her freshly painted shop with not a single customer in sight, but with patience and words of encouragment by a barber shop owner next door, she’s feeling good about her prospects. Every detective needs a secretary; enter Anika Noni Rose as Mma Grace Makutsi. A graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College. She’s quick to point out her 97% percent grade average and efficiency with all office duties. Her super-perfectionist personality make for some laughable moments.
In this first of six episodes we meet a dubious daddy; a cheating husband who loves thick women ala Jill Scott; a child kidnapped by a witch doctor; a missing finger scam; and Idris Elba makes a surprise appearance in a return to his Wire/captain of the thugs roots.
The combination of comedy, drama, and mystery is light-hearted entertainment worth watching.
Some people have complained that the complexity of the books got lost in translation, but isn’t that the case with most book to screen projects? People are also saying that African actors should have been used instead of Americans with ‘bad’ African accents. Saying HBO could have used this as a chance to highlight fantastic African actors and actresses. On this side of the globe who is going to watch a show with a bunch of foreign actors? A mix and match of recognizable American faces with Africans was necessary for eyeballs. Like yours.
If you missed it, catch a re-run and tune in next week. How about a snippet?