So a few weeks ago I shared my most recent favorite sagas that I have been watching while folding laundry. This week I am going to share some of my favorite mysteries that are available to stream.
There are some obvious timeless classics like Rosemary and Thyme or either of Agatha Christie’s series: Miss Marple and Poirot. I will say that my favorite actress portraying Miss Marple is Joan Hickson and Julia McKenzie is a close second. I haven’t warmed as much to Geraldine McEwan mostly because she was in the creepiest supposed British comedy that PBS picked up many years ago called Mulberry. Anyway, that aside, I hope to share some old favorites today and possibly some new mysteries that you may not be as familiar with.
Best Mysteries for Summer Streaming
1. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
This lovely series from Australia is set in the 1920’s in Melbourne. Miss Phryne Fisher is a glamorous detective who finds herself entangled in mysteries and intrigues that all reflect the culture of the time between the two great wars. To be honest, I began watching the show because I love the fashion from the 1920s-1940s. I was visually drawn in at first and then as I got to know the characters of Phryne Fisher and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson and their constant dance around a pending romance, I was hooked. Most seasons are available on Acorn and Netflix and some PBS stations include it in their current line up.
2. The Doctor Blake Mysteries
Another gem from Australia, this series is set in the late 1950s in the small country town of Ballarat. Doctor Lucien Blake returns to take over his father’s private medical practice after being away for thirty years. Haunted by events from his past (serving in WWII, losing his wife and child during the fall of Singapore, being held as a POW in Ban Pong) Doctor Blake throws himself into his work as police surgeon. I find myself as interested in solving the mystery of Doctor Blake’s past as I do in the cases themselves. There is a wonderful tension between Lucien and his housekeeper Jean Beazley. There is a loyalty and affection that is brewing and I am patiently watching to see what happens. Doctor Blake is currently being shown on PBS and is also available for purchase on Acorn or Amazon.
3. Father Brown
Another period piece from the 1950s, Father Brown is a delightful series based on the stories by G.K. Chesterton set in the small Cotswold village of Kembleford. The Roman Catholic priest finds himself able to solve mysteries more effectively than the local police (much to their dismay) because of his relationship with all of the townspeople as well as the perpetrators’ willingness to confess to a priest. I don’t know why I am so taken by Mark Williams (aka Arthur Weasley from Harry Potter) but I love his voice and the way he portrays the character of Father Brown. The townspeople are quirky and add wonderful depth to the show. The show is currently on KBYU but is also available to stream on Amazon (not Prime however).
4. Midsommer Murders
If you want a series that never runs out of episodes, Midsommer Murders is for you. This show began in 1997 and has so many seasons you can watch and fold laundry for years. The show centers around Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby and his current side kick as they solve crimes around the towns of Midsommer (Southern Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire). In spite of so many episodes, the show manages to keep exploring different angles and scenarios so that is doesn’t feel too formulaic. I haven’t watched enough episodes to have switched inspectors yet but I am well on my way. This show is available on Acorn and Netflix.
5. Mr. and Mrs. Murder
This Australian treat is humorous and completely entertaining. Nicola and Charlie Buchanan run a crime scene cleaning company and constantly find themselves in the middle of investigations. This saucy and hilarious comedy/mystery mixes the everyday with a bit of the absurd. There were thirteen episodes in the first season and then it was cancelled. Super fans are still holding out hope for a season two. One reason sited for the cancellation was that the co-star Shaun Micallef didn’t like the rigorous filming schedule and wasn’t having fun (the big baby!). But even with only one season, I still recommend it for a light-hearted laugh. I originally watched it on Acorn but have seen it available on YouTube and Vimeo.
6. Dirk Gently
Who loved Pushing Daisies? Well if you loved that show, Dirk Gently is right up your alley. Based on characters from Douglas Adam’s book, this mystery series is quirky and unexpected. Dirk Gently (played by Stephen Mangan, you might remember him from Episodes) runs a holistic detective agency. Gently’s eccentric belief in the “interconnectedness of all things” drives his approach of relying upon random chance for cases to be solved. Never sure if he’s a genius or a conman, Gently’s unwitting partner Richard MacDuff sticks by him to the bitter end. Another short series (only four episodes), it is still worth your time to check it out. I watched it on Acorn. I saw that BBC America is doing a remake of the show due to be released in October with Elijah Wood as Dirk. I am highly skeptical but will give it a look out of curiosity.
7. Republic of Doyle
Are you ready for some Canadian crime solving? I stumbled on to the Republic of Doyle when I had the stomach flu and was stuck in bed. I needed something funny and entertaining that I could close my eyes and listen to and still follow the story. Happily I found Jake Doyle, private investigator. I think I watched the first three episodes just to see the colorful houses of Newfoundland. I stayed because of the crazy high jinks (yes, I just used high jinks intentionally) that Jake Doyle found himself involved in. This series is definitely formulaic but that means that you can do the dishes or cook dinner while you watch and you won’t be lost if you miss a word here or there. The characters are fun and familiar and before you know it, they feel like family. I blew threw the first few seasons on Acorn and then searched YouTube to continue to feed my habit. It is now available on Netflix as well.
Well that should give you plenty more to watch for the next little while. There are a hundred mysteries I could share with you and I’m sure you have your favorites. Feel free to share those in the comments below. Stay tuned, next time I’m tackling dramas.