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Agatha Raisin: Series One
Score: 93%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Acorn Media
Region: 1
Media: DVD/3
Running Time: 462 Mins.
Genre: Mystery/Comedy/TV Series
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH

  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Photo Gallery

Agatha Raisin: Series One is an absolute breath of fresh air in the world of British mystery series. Not that I don't love British mysteries, mind you, but these characters are so different and fun that you can't help but keep watching.

The series actually begins with a feature length movie called The Quiche of Death and it basically sets up the story of how Agatha comes to live in the Cotswolds. Agatha "Aggie" Raisin (Ashley Jensen, Ugly Betty) is a PR powerhouse in London and she's made her money and paid her dues. Now, she's ready to fulfill her lifelong dream of living the idyllic quiet life in the country in a lovely cottage in the village of Carsley. She is leaving her business in the more than capable hands of Roy (Mathew Horne), her natty assistant, and hopes to immediately join village life, but things aren't quite what she expected. For starters, Agatha is much more Bird of Paradise than English Rose. She is a striking blonde with a fantastic figure and a brash but beautiful wardrobe. Let's just say she doesn't blend in with the rest of the village.

In trying to fit in, she enters the annual quiche contest, but naturally she buys her very excellent quiche instead of baking it herself, and before you know it, it seems the judge is dead and she is a suspect in a murder. She and Roy join efforts with her cleaner, Gemma Simpson (Katy Wix), and James Lacey (Jamie Glover), the handsome brother of her rude neighbor, Sheila (Caroline Langrishe, Lovejoy) and together they work to solve the crime. It doesn't hurt that the local constable DC Bill Wong (Matt McCoey) has an enormous crush on Aggie and while he is quite bright, his superior DCI Wilkes (Jason Barnett) is a bumbling idiot.

As it turns out, Agatha has quite the knack for solving murders and while Carsley never had one before she arrived, murders start popping up all around the Cotswolds, a la Midsomer Murders, and Agatha Raisin is just the tenacious lady to solve them.

Nine more episodes follow after the movie and unlike the typical "murder of the week" scenario favored in many other shows, there's actually a nice little running plot throughout with Agatha chasing after James' affections, while Bill pines for her, and Gemma pines for Bill. There are also many recurring characters from the village like Vicar Jez Bloxby (Rhashan Stone in the series and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith in The Quiche of Death) and his wife Sarah (Lucy Liemann); the local elderly couple everyone drives around, The Boggles (Richard Durden and Marcia Warren); handsome, wealthy bachelor and buddy of Jamie's, Sir Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells); sweet old Mrs. Josephs (June Watson); and local grocer and gossip, Gene Harvey (Tim Stern), among many others. What's even more interesting is that the show is not afraid to make these regulars either victims or villains in different episodes, so you truly never know what to expect.

What you definitely can expect is Agatha to call on Roy to help her with research and sleuthing, and for Gemma, Bill and James to all work together with Aggie to solve the crime, however weird it may be. The murders occur in and around various villages in the Cotswolds and involve anything from an environmental activist killed while trespassing, to a woman who supposedly commits suicide by hanging herself from church bells, people murdered that oppose a new spring water company moving into town, a gardening competition that turns deadly, the town's newest eligible bachelor turning up dead, a body found floating in flood waters after a wedding, a murder at a haunted castle that Aggie visits for some R&R (and hair repair), and finally, a surprise visitor to town that threatens Agatha's happy future.

Agatha doesn't have a great history with men and she keeps up the trend in Carsley. I won't go into more detail as it would spoil it for you, but boy can she pick 'em. She does have excellent taste in clothes and a delightfully refreshing way of badgering people into talking, even when they don't want to divulge a word. As she shows off her PR prowess by helping different groups in town, she gets better and better at solving crimes, something DC Bill is all too aware of and he knows he needs her help and tends to give her free reign to solve the crimes. Watching her build friendships and even romance with some of the village locals is a delightful journey and the mysteries each episode are icing on the cake. While some were a bit predictable, they are all great fun. Special features include a couple of behind the scenes featurettes with cast and crew interviews (the most interesting being with the authoress, M.C. Beaton) and a photo gallery. Personally, I can't wait for Series 2 and I am absolutely loving this new addition to Acorn's stable of fine British mysteries. Highly recommended.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins
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