Beyond Paradise

Beyond Paradise
Beyond Paradise
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Death in Paradise has a concept that is simply that: sometimes all you need on TV. It started running on BBC One since 2011, and it is an ordinary cozy crime drama set in Guadeloupe and filmed on the beautiful fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie, but with a British (or Irish) man as a foreign detective. Despite sticking to the conventions of classic whodunnits, this series has lasted up to now because it solved one problem: how to keep changing the central character each time the main performer got tired of living away from home. In other words, Kris Marshall who used to be one of them stars in another new show indicating how big Death in Paradise is: Beyond Paradise is its spinoff about temporary case-by-week detective works done here in England.

In other words, it’s not exactly Death in Paradise without what people like about Death in Paradise – though historically Marshall must be somewhere near second best. Even if Ralf Little may have just matched his record as the longest-serving detective on it or Ben Miller introduced the part, when you close your eyes for a moment and focus your breathing so as to imagine yourself there—the sand under your feet, hear slight creaking of storylines—it’s probably Marshall’s stringy Humphrey Goodman that comes out first.

However, since this new program can’t rely on Caribbean sunshine any longer, Beyond Paradise has adopted several familiar tropes from different genres at once beginning with “London detective stands out awkwardly among eccentric rural folks” tradition that was parodied by Death in paradise – soccer game between two teams twisting into opposite directions. It was decided at DiP that he had been taken off because he wanted to return with Martha (Sally Bretton) to live together again in London. However, Goodman will find himself alienated due to her parents’ ancestral village being situated within Shipton Abbott.

But soon his clumsiness starts bothering his new partner, conscientious DS Esther Williams (Zahra Ahmadi), and police station’s grumpy office manager Margo (Felicity Montagu). If you replaced Marshall’s goofy optimism with grumpiness as he stumbles along the narrow streets, and instead of investigating crimes had him examine medical issues, you could be watching a different long-running drama. Another one of them, PC Kelby Hartford (Dylan Llewellyn), looks uncannily like a younger version of Doc Martin’s thick-as-two-planks constable.

However, what nobody has wanted to accept about Doc Martin is that beyond its bucolic attire, it was an acutely written sitcom. Beyond Paradise still has some way to go before it can make any such claims though. In this first episode either they just go for an easy old joke – Goodman, who is tall, finds himself squeezed into the passenger seat of a Mini which he cannot adjust – or there are comedic lines given to him that don’t really seem funny or strange but raise comedy eyebrows amongst the rest of the cast anyway. This includes a cringe-inducing Martha’s mom & gran dinner scene featuring fart humour done in bad taste and an improbable visual gag where adults should not fit in low chairs anymore.

 On his very first day, a case falls into Goodman’s lap that is reassuringly cushioned with the conventional staples of a whodunnit story. The deceased was pushed over a first-floor balcony by an assailant who, predictably,  lives in the best house in the neighborhood-a fancy timber and glass affair which sits against a hill just enough to almost offer any room lock problem because no one seems to have attended through it. This injured person instead of dying points an accusing finger at some seventeenth-century witch who lived at the same place—a peculiar fact only making goodman more excited on getting a puzzle than he already is. At one stage, her husband who appears rather haughty even went as far as saying “my wife has quite an imagination.”

Throughout its course, this investigation revolves around snobby middle class crime drama characters including an arrogant group of local tycoons and professionals with dark pasts (and possibly real life). There is another cliché that I will not spell out here that means anyone familiar with detective shows will have known who did it long before they reached halfway point.

It may not be a perfect opening mystery with all the genre clichés and stop-hold-on-a-seconds plot awkwardnesses but Death in Paradise has always been plagued by these sort; after all, it’s all about the location. Will Devon and new focus on Goodman’s family life giving way to sufficiently serious emotional drama replace Saint Marie being far away from everything? Kris Marshall’s cheeky laugh can take him anywhere.

In addition to BBC One airing Beyond Paradise, it can now be found on iPlayer.

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