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4.6 out of 5 stars313
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 April 2009
I've never read the books; in fact, they escaped me entirely, and I didn't watch the film/pilot when it was shown. Truth is, I started watching this because I was at a loose end.

Within 2 minutes, I was *completely* under its spell, and I've fallen crazy, ridiculously in love with this programme. Jill Scott plays Precious Ramotswe; a large, lovely, warm bundle of laughter and love. She plays the eponymous lady detective, and she approaches it with joy. She is quick to laugh; she is kind, and honest and wonderful.

Mma (that seems to be the general term for "Miss" in Botswana and, oh, I wish it would catch on here!) Ramotswe is aided by Mma Makutsi, a prim and proper lady with a snippy demeanor and heart of gold; one who received 97% at Botswana's Secretarial College - something she is quick to inform anyone who will listen.

The chemistry between the two is absolutely wonderful - on the surface, they appear to be polar opposites, both physically and in demeanor. But as we get to know them both, we discover they are both the very best of ladies; ones who are truly burdened to help those in need.

The series ran to 6 hour-long episodes, and they are each splashed with colour and sunshine and innocence and happiness. Botswana is blessedly untroubled politically/environmentally, so it allows for the backdrop to be joyous. And it is. Add to that, an extraordinary musical score. You'll hear chords you never even imagined - superficially discordant, but upon hearing it a couple more times, music that will honestly seep into your blood, and I so hope they release a CD.

Our lovely Mma Ramotswe takes on cases ranging from a seemingly schizophrenic dentist, to a missing pet, to a missing husband, to a daughter with a secret boyfriend. She's rarely in extreme danger, but even when she is, she approaches it with humour and grace, and when Rra (generic term for "sir", or "him", I think...) Mateknoi falls in love with her, you can understand why.

Buy this, and be swept off to somewhere wonderful.
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on 23 November 2008
Immediately after watching the film premiere on the BBC back in March 2008, I knew that this would be a film for keeps and I've been waiting for the DVD release so that I can watch the film again. It's brilliant.

The film was released as the first in a series to be continued by the BBC, with the filming for the remainder of the episodes due to begin in the summer ('08). It was so sad to hear of director Anthony Minghella's death just a few days before the film was first shown on the BBC. The film is a fitting last testament to his brilliant career and I hope that they can pull off the rest of the episodes as well as this one, without Minghella's direction.

Minghella and the cast really bring to life Alexander McCall Smith's rich and humorous novels of Botswana. The on-location filming is spot on, the scenery beautiful, stark and vivid, the characters warm and superbly cast (Jill Scott is a perfect Mma Ramotswe), and there is a charm to the film which makes you want to laugh, cry and experience Gabarone and Botswana with Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi and the rest of the delightful characters. Tinged with deeper meaning, and some of the darker traditional practices, such as the witchcraft trading in human body parts still to be found underground in parts of the continent, it is the beauty and spirit of Africa that really shines through this film. Its humour and good nature make it a film suitable for the whole family to watch.
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on 5 February 2009
Films of books rarely capture the essence of the characters, scenery etc. This is an exception to the rule. Anthony Minghella stuck firmly to the essence of McAll Smith's books. The characters are well casted from the lead to the smallest part. You will bathe in the heat and sunshine of Botswana. If you're looking for the blood-gushing gore of most detective series you'll be disappointed. This is a super family film.
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on 2 June 2011
The series is great, but sadly is the information about this DVD incomplete. Sadly does the two DVD's only include the 6 main episodes of the series and NOT the important pilot episode that explains sets the entire story!
That is hugely disappointing!
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on 4 January 2011
I love this series including the books. This is advertised as the full series but it is not. The final episode is missing.
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This multi-part series picks up where the pilot film left us, following the early adventures of new lady detective Precious Ramotswe in Botswana. It's a high quality series with six hour long epiosdes, all produced with the same attention to detail as the feature-length stand-alone introduction. The photography of Botswana itself is frequently breathtaking; the down to earth aspects of living alongside chickens and giraffes occasionally topples into hilarious.
Each episode solves a mystery and can be watched in isolation, but the overall thread of the series follows the development of Mma Ramotswe as she establishes her business in the local community, builds a relationship with her marvellously pernickity secretary, and develops a softly-softly romance with the proprietor of the wonderfully-named Speedy Motors.
There's a gentle moral tale at the heart of each epiosde -- sometimes it's about how to resolve a mystery and avoid causing harm. Other plotlines are more tightly woven around Precious and her personal circumstances, including her old relationship with a famous jazz player who finally comes to town at the end of the series...

This series is extremely well polished; the characters spark off each other brilliantly and the dialogue is usually top-notch. If it has a weakness then it is in the final couple of epiosdes which see Precious behaving rather wildly -- perhaps in keeping with her TV character but a bit out of step with the more thoughtful depiction in the book series. However, although some of the details feel a little different to the books, the TV series continues the charming atmosphere which they created: this isn't gritty, hard-hearted or violent crime detection. It's a carefully crafted series of fables, often uplifting, occasionally sad. Always entertaining.
8/10

PS: if you haven't seen the feature-length film then I recommend watching that first. You'll soon pick up the characters and situations, but it's more enjoyable if you know exactly what is going on in the background. SeeThe No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency [2008] [DVD]
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on 12 March 2010
It's wonderful that the BBC has at last issued this much postponed DVD. With its humanity, its perceptiveness and its charm, not to mention its disdain for sex, guns and violence, The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency was a shining beacon when it first appeared. How sad that the BBC has now, it appears, abandoned the series and allowed the talented team which produced it to disband. Which only makes what has turned into a memorial to their efforts an all the more desirable addition to any discerning viewer's collection.
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on 11 February 2011
I loved this series when it was on TV so had to buy the DVD when it came out. But I was so disappointed to get to the end only to realise that the very last episode is missing! What is the point in buying this if one episode is missing? And as it happens the vital last episode that sums everything up. I will definitely be complaining to the seller.
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on 1 October 2009
From all that we have seen so far (including the Easter special from last year), this show has been breathtaking. An amazing piece of television and for those who don't already know of Jill Scott (who happens to be one of my favourite artists) as an incredible singer/songwriter in her own right, it see's her stepping out into the acting world (she has done other acting projects though) with such ease. This episode gives you a little taster as what to expect with the series that began last month on the BBC, a series that has surpassed all expectations and leaves you waiting for more. I have not read the books, but after seeing this pilot episode and the series on the BBC so far, I definitely wouldn't mind checking them out.

I could certainly not imagine any other cast for this, it has been picked beautifully and Jill Scott has proved that she is indeed, a very talented actress too.
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on 1 June 2009
Every character in this film has been cast well and in some cases brilliantly. Jill Scott is marvelous - and what an authentic accent she has for an American! - she brings her character to life.
The stories themselves are beautiful and well-written and the film has been scripted well also. I can hardly wait to see the series (I hope they make many) - it promises to be refreshingly different from the numerous formulaic detective series on tv at the moment. Although the film has a rather slowish beginning, none of it is irrelevant or boring and I found every character fascinating, played with real depth. It reminded me of what I love about Africa, especially the humour. It was quite funny in places.

Altogether a beautiful film.
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