Saturday, May 23, 2009

One of my goals on my recent trip to London was to stock up on some books and DVDs that aren't available to us here in the U.S. (or else are extravagantly expensive). Top of my list was the DVD of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I knew it had been shown on British TV around Easter in 2008, so I was sure it would be available on DVD over there. I know the series is currently being shown on the U.S. channel HBO, but unfortunately, I don't subscribe to that channel.

I was able to find the DVD, and it turns out to be the first episode of the series. It stars the wonderful Jill Scott as Mma Ramotswe, but the real scene stealer is Anika Noni Rose as the uptight secretary Mma Makutsi.

I was thrilled to see the beloved characters come to life on the screen, but as usual with film adaptations from books, there were some things which bothered me:

1. What was with the gay hairdresser whose shop was next door to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency? He wasn't in the books, played a very minor role, and just seemed totally unnecessary.

2. I didn't like all the emphasis on Mma Ramotswe's former husband, Note Mokote. Although he did show up in a later book, he was mostly absent from the action and from Mma Ramotswe's thoughts in the rest of the books. He and his trumpet had too much screen time!

3. Mr. JBL Matekone is ALWAYS called "Mr. JLB Matekone" by EVERYONE -- so why was that changed to "Mr. Matekone" in the film? It's a minor thing, so why mess with it?

4. Why was the "tiny white van" a pickup truck???

Those were minor quibbles, but still seemed like unnecessary meddling with material that was fine to begin with! I really loved the character of Mma Makutsi, the secretary. She was just as hardworking and bewildered as she was in the books.

Final Verdict for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency film: Four Gherkins, for being a mostly accurate and endearing portrayal of the books


smitten by britain said...

I'm getting set to review this myself. I didn't read the books which sounds like it might be a good thing.

MikeH said...

I have the first four books in the series and I just finished the thrid one last night. Very good reading. And it was a good series--I'm hoping they decide to make more.

Lisanne624 said...

As Mike said, the books are just wonderful! I'm anxious to get hold of the latest one, "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built." I would like to see the rest of the series, so I hope it's out on DVD soon!

Anonymous said...

I just went on a Mma Ramotwe tour In Gabarone and our tour guide said that the “tiny white van” is indeed what we call a pickup truck in Botswana. Hence the pickup truck.

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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