I had heard so much about the books that I was looking forward to the pilot episode and I have not been disappointed since. I eagerly awaited each episode in the (first) season to see how the various relationships would develop, to see if there would be answers given to unanswered questions and to see how Precious would solve the next case. I've seen all the episodes in the first season, and now I want more. I hope to read the books sometime, but my review is from the perspective of someone who has not read them.
I agree that this series is not heavy, but it does have depth and complexity. It is not pablum and it is not Murder She Wrote, although there are similarities. In some ways, it's a bit more like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit where the detectives' past experiences and current lives are also a part of the ongoing story, even though each episode is centered on a couple of mysteries.
I think in the west we have become so used to seeing women in what were formerly men's jobs that there isn't enough appreciation for how tough it still is for women in other parts of the world to achieve respect for who they are and what they do rather than being judged on their looks or their ability to keep house. At the same time, there are some issues about women and families that transcend cultures, such as domestic violence and childlessness. That is not to say that it's a series for women. I've seen very positive online reviews by males. In fact, my husband and I usually watch the episodes together, but if he misses the original broadcast, he'll watch it "On Demand." Afterwards we'll discuss developments, motives and possible future directions as if these were the lives of friends we are viewing and not just fictional characters. What more can you ask of a series than to have the audience invested in the characters and plots?
One delightful feature of the No. 1 LDA is seeing how Precious solves each case in a different way using her intelligence, her skills at observation, her common sense, sometimes her marksmanship, and yes, sometimes luck. It is also a thrill to see what her definition of "solving" entails, as the solutions are not the typical bad guy gets found out and goes to jail in the last five minutes; in fact, in most cases, the law is not involved at all, but all clients who really want the truth (and deserve it) get satisfaction. Usually the audience also gets a sense that justice has been done in some way, even if it is not the end result we would typically see in a mystery series. We enjoy reviewing these approaches and results, their merits and demerits, and how different they are from our own approaches to the same issues.
Although there is a lot of focus on each character's development and on the relationships among themselves, it is not a melodrama. There is plenty of humor and wit sprinkled throughout. Of course, the series also has thrilling music and gorgeous scenery and it provides a little insight into a culture and environment slightly different than our own. A big plus is its positive depiction of an Africa that we seldom get to see in the west.
I don't want to spoil any of the stories, but I have read reviews that praise the series for its absence of violence and gore. I think that may be misleading. There are some adult themes, some violence, or suggestions of violence and definitely some things that a squeamish person might not like. These are largely left to the imagination rather than explicitly depicted on screen, and/or so miniscule compared to what usually comes out of Hollywood that some people may not even realize they are there, but they are not completely absent.
Thus, although the series is not for children, because of the way these issues are handled, it is possible these would go completely over the heads of any children watching. I can't recall any instances of foul language, at least none that I understood or that I could identify. However, I would really have to watch some episodes with this possibility in mind before deciding my kids could be around or watch the show.
Anyone watching the series will get a good (and gorgeous) view of another culture, its similarities and differences from ours, and perhaps some insights about our own society.
Of course, nothing pleases everyone, so there is no guarantee you will like it, but based on what I have seen and the online reviews I have read,there is a great chance you will enjoy it.
So, when does the next season start?