14 February 2011 | Imdbidia
A breath of fresh air
A BBC & HBO co-production TV series based on the series of books by Alexander McCall Smith of the same title. Each episode is based on the events of one of each of the books. The shooting of the series was Anthony Minghella's project, who was executive producer and director of the pilot episode. However, after his sudden and unexpected death, his project was taken over and directed by other directors.
The novels tell the story of Mme Ramostwe, an independent traditionally-built woman who decides to open a detective agency to solve daily-life mysteries in her community. She counts with the help of her diligent but blunt secretary Grace Makutsy, and the constant help, support of love of master mechanic JLB Matekoni's. The story not only focuses on the mysteries the agency gets and resolves, but in the personal lives of the main characters.
I have read the books, and I can say that the series is not only a faithful adaptation of the novels, but better than they are. Although Smith books are extremely charming, with great characters and original settings and storyline, their poor literary value made them repetitive and soapy. The TV series, however, focus on the facts narrated in the book, with the same charm and freshness, but with the extra of the real Botswana in it and without any of the unnecessary repetitions and simplistic literary approach.
It is a pity that the main characters are not played by local actors, although, to be fair, the leading actors are all great in their respective roles. Jill Scott plays Mma Ramotswe convincingly, with great lightness and charm sometimes and with heartfelt dramatic feelings when required; moreover, she is a big gorgeous woman, comfortable with her size and curves, which is perfect for her character, who is just the same. Also stupendous in her role of secretary is Anika Nonie Rose, who gives the character a great comic twist beyond the nerve that the character has in the books. Zimbawaean Lucian Msamati is also great as the grounded soft-hearted Matekoni's; I have to confess that I expected him to be younger and thinner.
A refreshing highly entertaining series, with wonderful cinematography, insight into Botswana way of life, very good acting, and charming every-day mysteries. A breath of fresh air.