Friday, January 17, 2014

Thoroughly Modern Miss Fisher

If you've chanced across my rantings in other online forums of late you're probably aware of my enthusiasm -- oh hell, I'm obsessed, obviously -- for the Australian period detective series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Set in 1928 Melbourne and starring stunning clothes horse/great actress Essie Davis as Louise Brooks with a gun and a left-wing social conscience. (Obviously, my ideal woman.)

In any case, if you haven't seen it, one of Miss Fisher's many charms, apart from very sharp writing and tremendous chemistry between its regular characters (including Nathan Page as the coolest police inspector in TV history) is a very smart choice of genuine pop music -- Australian and otherwise -- of the era on the soundtrack.

Case in point: The following song -- "Sailing on a Sunbeam," by Des Tooley (featuring Frank Coghlan), which I find oddly haunting. The record features at the end of the season one finale, at a point when the show has gotten very dark and depressing, and it's being played at Miss Fisher's birthday party in an attempt to cheer her up. Whether it does or not, of course, remains ambiguous.

I gotta tell ya, it took me two weeks before I realized that it was being sung by a guy; in fact, the androgyny of the vocal is part of what makes it work, even if that's not what they had in mind when it was being recorded.

In any case, it's worth remembering Noel Coward's great line, to wit, "there's something extraordinarily potent about cheap music."

And speaking of the aforementioned cheap music, you can -- and very definitely should -- download the Miss Fisher soundtrack album over at iTunes or at Amazon HERE.

Meanwhile, you can watch a series trailer for the show over at the Acorn Video website HERE, or at YouTube below.

The show itself -- just the first season so far -- can be streamed over at Netflix, but frankly Acorn's disc versions are a better deal in the long run, the picture quality being more than incrementally better on the DVD or Blu-ray versions.

Said discs of Season One can be ordered at Amazon over HERE.

Or you can watch the show on Acorn's YouTube channel HERE; you can subscribe for $4.99 a month (cheap) but you can also get a 14 day free trial, which is a great idea because Acorn has lots of other shows at least as good as Miss Fisher; I strongly recommend George Gently (another period detective show, but this time a police procedural set in Britain in the mid-60s) and the Murdoch Mysteries, a period forensic show but set in 1895 Toronto.


steve simels said...

I also just discovered that episodes of season two have just begun streaming at the Acorn website as well.

A new episode goes up every week until the end of March. One assumes the disc versions will go on sale in April....

Carol said...

I LOVE this show - I haven't seen season two yet though. I posted about it on my (just retired) perfume blog! I was waiting (im)patiently for this blog post as I saw a teaser on my blog feed yesterday.

We also love Murdoch - a totally under-the-radar great show. And have you seen Ripper Street? I actually like that one better than Copper.

Anonymous said...

that's a great point about the androgyny of the vocal. reminded me of my first spins of Fleetwood Mac's "Bare Trees," wondering if the singer of "Homeward Bound" was a man or woman.

steve simels said...

Carol -- check your email. You have a present.

Carol said...

Steve, you are awesome! (and I rarely use that word, but in this case, I really mean it!)


Anonymous said...

That's pretty stuff. I still think some of the finest pieces of musical art come from that period of pop .