What to Watch: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

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The Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a tv series set in Australia in the 1920s and feature the amazing Phryne Fisher. The tv series is based on a character created by Kerry Underwood in a long-running cozy mystery series. I confess I haven’t read the books… yet but I absolutely love the tv series. There are two seasons available via Netflix at the moment and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

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I love all of Phryne’s clothes but she is definitely a lady of means with exquisite sequined, furred or silky outfits. For being an heiress of sorts, Phryne surrounds herself with all people from all walks of life and treats everyone kindly. She’s quite a “man’s lady” and has had flings with a wide range of gentlemen, everyone except the brooding but dashing Det. Jack Robinson.

Side note: My husband spent a year in Australia as an exchange student and was amused that the Detective’s name was Jack Robinson which was an expression he heard used in Ausrtalia to indicate something done quickly, as in “before you can say Jack Robinson“. Funny!

Essie Davis plays a perfect Phryne Fisher, in my eyes (even without having read the book). She’s a lady of indeterminate age who has enough history to have a “past” and to have the many skills and resources that are available to her.

I’ve heard some people complain that they felt a bit “hit over the head” with repeated references or inferences of how modern and sexually-forward Miss Fisher is. She’s probably played with a bit more modern sensibility than would have been common of the time but I enjoy her cavalier attitude and her wild lifestyle*. Miss Fisher is played very much as a “flapper girl” and I enjoy it, even if its not entirely accurate for the time, its how I imagine it might have been, especially in the slightly less confined social culture of Australia.

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How ever you end up feeling about Miss Fisher, you won’t be able to peel your eyes away from her fabulous wardrobe, spectacular hat collection and wicked-fast 1924 Hispano-Suiza motor car, scarf flapping in the breeze. She’s my flapper-girl Jane Bond — dashing, daring, well-dressed and afraid of nothing. I’m only afraid I’ll run out of new episodes to watch before they even start recording season three!

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Did I mention her perfectly coifed bob? I would kil to have hair this smooth and shiny.

 

* See the article on NPR’s Monkey See blog entitled “Essie Davis: On Playing A Sexually Liberated ‘Superhero’ Without Apology” to hear from the actress her reactions to allegations that Phryne is too “morally loose”. But then Essie goes on to gush about the fabulous wardrobe so enjoy that part too.

What to Watch: Bomb Girls

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I was recently talking to a new knitting friend Julie Turjoman about the wonderful Canadian TV series Bomb Girls and I realized I hadn’t mentioned it here on Yarn Forward, Knit Past yet.

The show is about women who work in a bomb factory in Canada during World War II. Its fascinating to see how the war affected Canada. Sadly, the same struggles existed for women in Canada that women in the UK and the US faced. The characters are diverse is age, lifestyle and reasons for being at the bomb factory and every character has their own struggles and secrets, making the stories riveting. AND…the costumes are fabulous.

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The first two seasons of Bomb Girls are now available on Netflix along with the tie-up-loose-ends movie Bomb Girls: Facing The Enemy.

There’s lots of enthusiasm around pushing to have the show continued on the Save Bomb Girls web site. So, if you watch it and fall in love with this too, you might want to pop over and leave an email or comment to keep the show going.

What To Watch: Agent Carter

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To say that I am loving the new tv series Marvel’s Agent Carter would be an enormous understatement. It has all the making of a show I would love — 40s era, kick-ass female lead and spy stories! The wardrobe is fabulous, though as a knitter, I wish there was more hand knits. The writing is very good and the story has action but a touching side as well. Peggy Carter is the most well-rounded female character on US television today. And she does it all in heels and red lipstick too.

If you haven’t watched it yet, the first three episodes are available on Hulu and the fourth episode airs this Thursday. I believe there are seven or eight episodes total and I so hope they renew and do a second series next year.

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I’m so smitten with the series that I think my costume for Planet Con in March will be Agent Carter. I found a great pic of her first scene unmentionables and a close-up of the shoes she wore which will help me to craft a perfect costume. Now to find the hat!

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What to Watch: Call The Midwife

What to atch: Call The Midwife

Another show that I’ve been watching recently is Call The Midwife. It is set post-WWII in some of the poorest and most bombed-out areas of London and is set around the young midwives working out of a convent in the neighborhood. This is also the start of socialized medicine in England so there’s some interesting aspects about how these midwives also worked in the community to provide infant, child and mother health care.

Due to the occasionally graphic nature of the child birth scenes, my husband decided this was not a show for him. I’ve continued to watch it as the history is fascinating, the fashion is lovely and the characters are endearing. Lots of people love Chummy in particular but I like Jenny. She’s my favorite character.

The series is based on a true-life book so things are not overly dramatic though some of the births are.

Some of the knitwear was designed by Susan Crawford from the patterns in her A Stitch in Time books series.

And did I mention that all the midwives ride classic English 3-speed bicycles? Love the bicycles!

There are currently two seasons available on Netflix and a third season was aired on PBS in April of this year but I didn’t catch it. Hopefully, Netflix will add Season 3 in 2015.

What to Watch: Land Girls

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Hello, woollies, tweeds, florals and twills! You can’t talk about great vintage fashion (knitwear included) on television without talking about the BBC series Land Girls. The stories revolve around women who enlisted in the Women’s Land Army during WWII and were stationed in rural England to work on farms to ensure a steady food supply while most men were off in Europe, Africa and Asia fighting the war.

Since the girls all work outside on the farm, they are consistently decked out in work overalls, woolly sweaters and sensible shoes which are some of my favorite vintage looks. They add colorful scarves to their hair to pretty-up their drab work wear which is a great detail.

The story itself is full of intrigue, drama and complexity. I don’t want to give anything away so you’ll just have to watch this. Each season is short like UK broadcast series. Season One only has five episodes. I’ve only seen the first season so far via Amazon Prime but now it looks as though none of the seasons are available in any form other than DVD .

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What to Watch: Foyle’s War

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I have just finished watching all the seasons available for the British series Foyle’s War. If you haven’t seen it, its a wonderful mystery series set in a coastal English town during WWII. The main character, Christopher Foyle is a police investigator who is tasked with solving domestic crimes throughout the war with his trusty companions: Constable Paul Milner, a returning war vet and Sam Stewart, a girl who started off in the Transport Corps but was loaned out to the police because they had a shortage of men to drive. Each series/season progresses through the war and the last few episodes start to delve into the post-war Cold War. Foyle himself is a wise curmudgeon with a soft spot for both Paul and Sam.

The show itself is riveting but I watch with a carefully tuned eye for the knitwear. And boy, is there ever a great collection of knitwear! All the costuming in the show is spot-on for the middle classes so its lots of uniforms, hard-wearing overalls and nubby woolens. So inspiring!

If you would like to watch Foyle’s War, the first seven series (some series are just two or three episodes) are available via Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime. Each episode is an hour-and-a-half so you’ll have plenty of time to settle in with your knitting and a big cup of tea.

Series Eight was recently announced to be released in 2015 with three 2-hour episodes. I don’t know how long I can wait for more of this wonderful series.