For a break from the dark Nordic crime, SBS On Demand delivered with Miss S, an adaptation of Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher set in the late 20s’ and early 30s’ Shanghai.
What a delight. You will recognise Kerry Greenwood’s plots, each spread over two episodes. All your favourite characters are there. Miss Su and Inspector Luo sizzle with unrequited sexual tension. Both are fashion plates. Taozi, Miss S’s maid turned companion, is a Buddhist. That causes tensions with the non-religious Constable Shen Xiao. Both have mobile faces fit for the silent area and their sweet relationship always raises a smile. The butler, Uncle Xiang, serves exquisite meals at the drop of a hat, including Russian cuisine. Taxi drivers, Song and Tai, are faithful trouble shooters. In both TV series Dorothy’s language and Dr McMillan’s look have been glamorised. Everyone is very easy on the eye.
The shift to Shanghai works well. Miss S has maintained Kerry Greenwood’s challenges to social norms but they have been tweaked. The sexual references are dialled down but don’t disappear. There are references to Western fashion taking over from the qipao, the Russian ex-pats and the rise of Japan. There are some things that don’t quite fit the era, one perfectly lovely gown seems more 50s’ New Look but it is so lovely that I don’t care. There are references to a flu. But other touches are just right, the enormous cars with their curtains front and back are perfect.
The stylishness, that is such fun in the books and the Melbourne TV series, is replicated. The clothes are lush. The inside of Miss S’s house is wonderful. I’d kill for her study with its double curved staircases lined with bookshelves.
Miss S is a stylish series. It is a relief that there are no craggy-faced, exhausted Nordic detectives. It is as gorgeous as you’d expect for a Shanghai version of the Fabulous Miss Fisher.
I’m binge watching.