Add a Review

  • When I heard about this show being airing on HBO, I was thrilled. My father had read several of the books and loved them (I have just started the first book). Although, from the first moments of the show I was still a bit skeptical. But when Mma opens her detective agency, the writing becomes some of the best I've seen on TV in years. There is a perfect mix between seriousness and fabulous humor.

    Mma is a clever, witty woman, while her secretary and hairdresser add nothing more than many wonderful laughs. This show has fantastic characters played by wonderful actors.

    I can only hope that this show stays on for many years to come!
  • dtobias923 April 2009
    I have always been a fan of Jill Scott and her music, and it's wonderful to see her abilities as an actress as well. This show is so engaging it leaves me wanting more and anxiously waiting for the next episode! Anika Noni Rose is excellent in her role as well, and I pray that this show is nominated and awards will be given for the acting as well as the writing of the show. I am also impressed with the positive light it shines on Botswana, for so long parts of Africa is always seen as this poor, devastated country with flies crawling over the faces of starving children. Don't get me wrong, this truly does happen, but poverty is everywhere even here in the states. But for once they are showing another side of life in a country where the people are full of life, a country full of beauty and grace, despite the hardships they face.
  • mimsy38-131 March 2009
    When one is fond of a book it can be with a certain amount of trepidation to watch that story be turned into film.

    This transformation was of epic proportion. The production is beautifully filmed, very well acted and the stories are fantastic. The series is being filmed in Botswana which adds immeasurably to the visual 'feel' of the story.

    I don't want to spoil one millimeter of film by telling what happens, all I can say is WATCH or you will miss the boat! Watch this with your kids, your mom, your grandma and your bestest ever friends.

    I look forward with great anticipation to the rest of the series.
  • The pilot for this series is very very close to the book(s), in tone and in content, if a little lightweight. The book series was perfectly charming, original in concept, playful and dignified and respectful of the human hearts at the center of this African culture, and so was this pilot. I do very much look forward to watching the series - the actors are a pure pleasure, and there's plenty of time to beef up the plots - PLUS- some great music! NO murderous cops, rotting corpses, drooling vampires, autopsies upon which the ME and his assistant eat their sandwiches, waggling, eye-level rump/crotch shots, convoluted quasi-Machiavellian mafia mobsters, sub-literate scriptwriters, howlingly ignorant plot devices. An original premise ... What a concept...
  • I really didn't think I'd like this show, but wow, was I wrong. We all love this series in my house - old & young alike. It's one of the best kept secrets on TV. Now I want to buy some Bush Tea! It's "Feel Good Television" for sure....even when it deals with some very difficult topics. Jill Scott is just delectable as an actress; well, we just love everyone on the show, actually. You want something to make you smile? "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency"! I really hope they extend the series into more seasons. Oh, and the photography of Botswana - it's absolutely breath-taking. I never knew male giraffes behaved like that! they said in the show, it's just like males everywhere. It's a wonderful view of a place and people we know little about here in my little town in the middle of Canada.
  • boogiebob25 November 2010
    After watching three episodes, I am already disappointed that there will be no second season.

    A relaxing and charming program to watch. Likable characters portrayed by a lot of well cast actors.

    The photography, editing and scenery are a major part of what makes this good. No fast clip, jumpy editing. Smooth transitions. The camera stays on someone's face long enough for the viewer to focus (and appreciate the acting), apparently a difficult feat based on how few directors seem to be able to do that.

    I am certainly not prudish, been around way too long for that. But I find gratuitous and frequent use of "F" and other vulgarities to be annoying, and IMO proof that writers can't construct decent dialog; substituting coarseness instead. This program manages to work pleasantly well without any swearing, resorting to the novel approach of using real adverbs and adjectives to convey the message.

    If you want high speed, non stop action with jumpy editing and constant swearing, don't waste your time watching this. Otherwise, sit back and have a nice, relaxing hour of quality entertainment.
  • 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?
  • If you don't find depth in this show, then you're not giving it your full attention. We are jaded because of all the in-your-face, aggressive, loud and often violent programing - this is a gentle program, but it has great depth and sensitivity if you really listen to the characters. It takes a moment to get used to the dialect/accents...I recommend this, and hope it survives! It's a visit to another culture, one quite worth getting acquainted with. The music alone is reason to give the show a try - ethnic, quality performances - this program I think offers so much charm but in a very subtle way. Some may, as I did at first, find it requires a little working at but soon you settle in to the style and find it most worthwhile programming.
  • Sometimes a series comes along that outshines all the rest. The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency is such a jewel of artistic excellence. When I first heard the buzz about a new HBO series, featuring an African-American female detective (who wasn't a size -2), my interest was sparked – and the previews only increased my impatience and anticipation. I can testify here and now that the cast, direction, and script writing always leave me wanting more.

    Based on the best-selling novels by Alexander McCall Smith, #1 centers around Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott), who left her homeland after burying her father and child. A victim of domestic abuse, Precious seeks a new life in Botswana, as the #1 Ladies' Detective". It's obvious by her adventurous spirit and career choice that she views herself as "made of strong stuff".

    Strong stuff indeed! In no time, she opens her agency, hires a secretary Grace Makutsi, (Anika Rose), who proudly declares, "I've scored 97%, the highest in the history of the secretarial college!" Add a common-sense boyfriend with a bad case of shyness and a gay hairdresser with a perchance for flowery shirts and cute hats, and you have a recipe for weekly success.

    It's not unusual for an episode to begin in good humor, only to end with this reviewer dissolved in tears and tissues. The stories feature sordid kidnappings, murder, and drug dealing to the usual suspects of cheating spouses, quarreling families, and petty thieves.

    Yet the smartest element of this delightful show is the use of Botswana and its people as its weekly setting. The rich culture and customs woven into each mystery, provides us with characters and situations that never fail to fascinate. And in the end, what appears different strikes a familiar chord, because it's a small world after all.
  • wimpur7 April 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    After reading the books by A.M. Smith, and really enjoying them, I was a little scared that the TV version would be a disappointment. Only a few TV series live up to the expectations. Last time I was genuinely pleased it was with the Sharpe series. Anyway, I am watching the series on BBC - TV and I love it. I shall not go into details and spoilers. But each and every episode is full of fun, drama, romance, kindness and a lot of Botswana tradition. My compliments to all involved in the making of it. I especially love the character of Grace Makutsi, played by Annika Noni Rose. And Jill Scott does a great job portraying a female in a mens' profession. In an area dominated by men. And for those who think it lacks depth: go read 'War and Peace'.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I first discovered the books while in South Africa for a cultural exchange 4-1/2 years ago. I've read many of them, as they've been released in this country, since. I had high hopes for the series, and actually decided to keep HBO because of it! Other than some modifications in plot (the hairdresser is not in the books, neither is Grace Makutsi's brother) the series keeps the tone of the books. This program is not filled with suspense. It is not a thriller.

    To me, this is wonderful! Everything doesn't have to raise your blood pressure! The reason I love the books and the series is because it is gentle. The character of Mma Ramatswe uses both the principals of detective work and her intuition to solve the mysteries of Gaborone, Botswana. It is a feel-good series, that, at least so far, is appropriate for families. It is my favorite show right now!
  • Daft_Munks26 October 2009
    My Nana saw this on the TV, she told me about this show and the first thing that I thought of was 'a bunch of ladies in Africa who are detectives', sounds rather dull don't want to see this at all.

    I bought my Nana the DVD as she was going through a rough patch, and I stayed with her and watched it not expecting much, and I was surprised. It's really good.

    It's one of those shows that isn't laugh out loud funny or edge of your seat but it's worth watching and to put it simply a good story and quite comforting if your feeling low.

    Defo worth watching at least once
  • Imdbidia14 February 2011
    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.
  • suzpom30 December 2017
    Such a wonderful program. In a time when people seem to prefer CGI-filled scenes of made-up animated characters with shallow stories, full of nothing but action and crime, it's so nice to watch the portrayal of real people leading real lives in a real place!

    I have now watched this series TWICE, because I can't get enough of the actors, the story lines, the people and views of beautiful Botswana. It's one of the few places in the world I would very much like to visit.

    The only disappointment is, as usual, instead of continuing, another GREAT program has been cancelled. And episode 6 left us with an unfinished plot...
  • Jill Scott's performance as a detective the episodes No. 1 Ladies' Detective brought class, suspense, mystery, romance and intelligence to the role. Ms. Jill Scott known as Precious is naturally sexy and the only thing missing was a really comparable love mate. I must mention that major stars performed these series, only added awesome mouth opening surprises in several episodes. The quality of the episode depicts many lives in either Botswana or many parts of Africa. Beautiful scenery is abundantly notable in the DVD's box. It was very disappointing No. 1 Ladies' Detective was discontinued, it could have done well to continue the course.
  • vranger1 April 2009
    The series is certainly worth a watch. According to my wife, the episodes ares very close in tone and story to the books.

    I thought they could have made a little more of Precious' skills in observation and sleuthing. After an opening event where she showed some wisdom in solving a theft, and then used good observation and intuition to tell her driver much about himself, the rest of the story sort of devolved into coincidence to help her solve the remaining cases.

    The mysteries are quite interesting though, even the mystery of a little lost dog. Much more engrossing and meaningful is that of a missing young man, and that of a feuding family that may do each other in unless Precious can work her magic at their estate.

    You'll find the characters to be indeed charming, and the setting is very far from the norm, giving this show a unique flavor you won't find elsewhere.
  • Jill Scott is beautiful, an amazing singer and a terrific actress. Here she plays Precious Ramotswe the Botswana Lady Detective much loved in the novels by Alexander McCall Smith. The film/pilot had the tone and simplicity of the books beautifully, as did the series, and the bright sunny disposition outlook and countryside of Botwana is shown off to stunning effect and much of it is down to Ms Soctt. The support cast Anika Noni Rose and Lucian Msamati are excellent, including the strikingly cringeworthy performance by the awesome David Oyelowo, totally out of character! Like the books, there are a number of cases in this pilot including a missing child, a cheating husband and a fake-daddy. Funny, emotional, touching and heartwarming with huge feel good factor, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a great adaptation of the book, and pilot was the last work by incredible Director Anthony Minghella with expecting Jill Scott doing wonderfully well.
  • The movie-pilot from 2008 left me with an unclear impression: it seemed so naive compared to other up to date shows, so simple, that I thought it cannot hold it together. I watched it with some friends, it was my idea to pick it, and I was prepared to say sorry for wasting their time.

    But later we realised that the characters were lovable and the Gabrone city with all of them had entered our imagination and was there to stick. They wouldn't go away, every day seemed to settle what I had seen. And i found myself longing to see more...

    From here on, the series made their own perfect sense. A happier, simpler world, no swearing, human values, please and thank you...and yet they didn't seem unreal.

    The atmosphere of the series is extremely enjoyable, and I suppose it originates in the books. The accent adds to that, I love it. The characters, the's a small world that I am looking forward to see again.

    The aesthetics of the show is also outstanding: the colours, the fabrics, the expressive faces and the great camera movements. The music is good, too.

    It is definitely not the usual cup of tea, no use comparing to other HBO products. But forget the ratings and bring it back, reruns, follow-ups,whatever, if the spirit is still there. It is a precious piece of work about a brave woman also named Precious.And it depicts beauty, in many forms.

    Dumela, mma!
  • I've read the books by Alexander McCall Smith for years so I went into this show excited but cautious. 30 minutes into the first episode, I've been bored, fast forwarded, then been annoyed. B.K. is a character that doesn't exist at all in the books and I find his presence annoying. (He himself is charming but an unnecessary addition to the story.)

    So much of the book's charm is between the two ladies of the detective agency, which is interrupted by a character McCall never created. I understand the show can't be 100% like the books, and understand when people or things are omitted. I hate it when show writers create new material and characters out of no where.