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The No. 1 Ladies? Detective Agency
Sundays HBO
Jill Scott, Anika Noni Rose, Lucian Msamati
Premiere Episode March 29th 2009 8 P.M.
2 hours

Movie or TV adaptations of beloved mystery novels are always risky. HBO rises to the challenge with its adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. The series premieres March 29th at 8 P.M. on HBO with the encore at 1 A.M. Other shows will air subsequent Sundays in the same time slot.

The premiere episode of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency opens with a glance at   Precious Mma Ramotswe’s childhood which segues elegantly to the present and her first days as a detective. Jill Scott is excellent as Precious, the supporting cast strong, and the cinematography absolutely gorgeous although the first show indulges in a few too many National Geographic style panoramic shots of Botswana early on.

Fans of the Alexander McCall Smith mystery series might grow a bit impatient with the premiere episode as it very slowly sets up various supporting characters and the story. Those new to the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency will appreciate this, to a degree. The show accentuates the occasional humorous tone of the novels and does this to great effect although the secretary is a bit too much sometimes.

Mma Ramotswe’s first case is the Case of the Dubious Daddy. This is followed by a woman who thinks her husband is cheating on her. Pay attention though as a very major case is introduced much earlier on.

This first No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency TV mystery is quite good even if it meanders a bit at times. Subsequent shows include:

April 5th,   The Big Bonanza HBO 8 P.M.

April 12th, Poison HBO 8 P.M.

April 19th, The Boy With an African Heart HBO 8 P.M.