Beyond Paradise Series One – A Crime Show full of Heart

I have made no secret of my love for Death in Paradise over my time at The Boar TV – the show’s now-patented mix of charm and mystery is one that continues to draw me in, year after year, and I’m not alone on that front. Due to the show’s popularity, a spin-off was announced last year, following fan favourite DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) on his return to England, and it’s safe to say that excitement was high. I’m delighted to report that the show is largely a success, recapturing that same magic but with a distinctly English flavour.

Spoilers do follow for the entire series.

I love a show that uses its location and makes it feel part of the world

After getting engaged to Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton) in his final episode of Death in Paradise, Humphrey has joined her in her hometown of Shipton Abbott as she aims to open a restaurant. Humphrey soon takes over the local police station, where he is partnered with DS Esther Williams (Zahra Ahmadi), who finds him very strange, as well as PC Kelby Hartford (Dylan Llewellyn) and office support Margo Martins (Felicity Montagu). Elsewhere, he and Martha face bumps on the road to their happily-ever-after as they struggle to start a family, deal with Martha’s mother Anne (Barbara Flynn) and cope with the reappearance of Martha’s ex-fiancé Archie (Jamie Bamber).

One of the issues with Death in Paradise, according to the creators, was that the title mandated a murder every episode. Beyond Paradise gives us a lot of scope for different cases, from car thefts and art robberies to disappearances and a spate of arson attacks. I enjoyed the variety, and I thought they paved the way for some novel cases – in the final episode, for example, we face the puzzle of a burglary where the circumstantial evidence points to an old offender while the DNA evidence suggests a culprit with an unbreakable alibi. Likewise, the first mystery, involving the figure of a witch pushing a woman off a ladder, was engaging and felt really locally specific – I love a show that uses its location and makes it feel part of the world.

Although the show is ostensibly a crime series, it’s often strongest when it focuses on its characters

However, I think some of the cases are also the weakest points of the show, which is a shame. The first episode sets up an interesting case, but the moment a dodgy politician appears it’s almost inevitable that they’re wound up being the villain. And the solution to the case, involving the character simply avoiding a moving camera, is not particularly inspired. I had the case of the missing painting figured out before the opening credits, and it’s amazing that it took the team until the end of the crop circle case to crack how the map and the page of Great Expectations fit together. There’s also an infrequent storyline, a superintendent who wants to shut down the Shipton Abbott station, that doesn’t mesh at all with the vibe of the rest of the show – minor criticisms, perhaps, but they are criticisms.

As we already know the main characters, Beyond Paradise really digs into their relationship, resulting in some beautiful and some heart-breaking moments. The show bounces between being really funny (there are a lot of good, laugh-out-loud lines and well-sketched characters) and tugging at your heartstrings. After the joy of episode one, we end on a painful scene in which Martha reveals she has miscarried Humphrey’s child. This is a thread that lingers throughout the series, with Humphrey and Martha facing decisions about continuing IVF or not and their mixed desires for a family leading to a break-up and phone call that will leave you with tears in your eyes. Although the show is ostensibly a crime series, it’s often strongest when it focuses on its characters.

It’s really the characters and the heart that bring these series to life

And it culminates in a wonderful ten minutes of TV, which I’m gutted was ruined by the show’s social media accounts (this would have been a beautiful surprise). In order to clear his head, Humphrey heads to Saint Marie, revisiting the shack and seeing a slew of familiar faces – I thought we’d have a single cameo, after Humphrey’s heart-to-heart with the commissioner (Don Warrington), but fans were spoiled. There was Catherine, there was Neville, and there was the entire team. This was a beautiful crossover, acknowledging the debt to the show’s past as Humphrey carved out his own course in the future.

If you’re a fan of Beyond Paradise, there’s a lot of good news to follow – a Christmas special has been announced for later this year, and then a second series will come in 2024. There’s a lot to build on here, and the formula still works. Turns out that, for all the jokes about the sun selling Death in Paradise, it’s really the characters and the heart that bring these series to life.

Comments (4)

  • John Charles Ferguson Jr

    Love this show,found it and took a chance and me and my wife find it original and funny and they actually solve crime,it’s a good show for this day and age

  • Heather Flood

    Loved the new series. Great characters. Two for the price of one now.

  • Bernadine Horrocks

    So true it’s the characters and there stories that make the show love the actors so glad it’s coming back perhaps the the story lines are not so strong as it is a small coastal location.
    Please continue with both .

  • I really liked Beyond Paradise, mainly because of Kris Marshall,great actor and Humphrey a brilliant character.
    I think they need to tone down the dopey
    young policeman tho.

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