Saturday, June 26, 2010

Two Thumbs Up

So we watched the entire first season (to date, it's the only season) of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I'd been worried that they might have mis-cast the characters, but my worry was all to no avail.  They did a great casting job.

When I read the books I always pictured Precious Ramotswe looking like my Ethiopian friend, Aster, so I was a bit surprised to see Jill Scott, American singer-sogwriter, poet -- and now actress -- cast in the role.  But it didn't take long to realize that she was a perfect fit.  We got a little sample of Jill's hauntingly beautiful voice when she began to sing to the jazz trumpet of Note Makote. And we got a good dose of her acting talent as she drew us into the life of a modern woman with an Old Botswana heart and ethic.  Most of the crimes Mma Ramotswe investigates are family oriented -- cheating husbands, concerns over missing or worrisome children -- and she approaches them with style and wisdom.  With a conflicted past, she seeks to overcome her own demons while making a life for herself as a detective. 

Grace Makutsi is a recent graduate of the Botswana Secretarial School and finds a job with Mma Ramotswe.  Played by Anika Noni Rose (from Dreamgirls and The Princess and the Frog), Mma Makutsi has a quick mind and tongue.  Her world expands as she works alongside Mma Raomtswe.

Shoes are important to Mma Makutsi.  She has many fancy pair of heels but seems to struggle to walk in them.  One thing missing from the TV series but present in the books is that her shoes talk to her!  "You're in trouble now, boss!"  "Good going, boss!"  She does love her shoes.

I might have chosen older men to play the two mechanic apprentices, but apart from that I was quite impressed with the casting.  The writing and filming were equally impressive.  Each episode gave us a larger view of Africa in general and Botswana in particular, and drew us into the less complicated, slower pace of life than we experience in the West.  The colors -- in the sunsets, the clothing, the buildings inside and out -- added vibrancy to the story and the vast variety of musical styles enriched the African experience. says we can expect six new episodes in the next two years.   Sounds good to me!

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