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Beyond Paradise brings audiences up to date on DI Humphrey Goodman

 Audrey Kupferberg examines a film roll in her office
Audrey Kupferberg
Audrey Kupferberg examines a film roll in her office

Death in Paradise has had its share of eccentric Detective Inspectors. Since this series’ first episodes appeared in 2011, the crime rate on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint-Marie has remained shockingly high. Detectives who emigrated from the damp grey streets of London to this lush paradise are kept busy with one murder after another!

The actors who were cast to play those various detectives already were highly successful TV stars. Ben Miller, Kris Marshall, Ardal O’Hanlon, and Ralf Little, who also had a successful career as a footballer, transferred mainly from leads and character roles in comedy series to become crime fighters. Each does very well at being serious while figuring who the murderer is, but, injecting moments of humor, comical tics, into the character he plays.

Thirteen seasons and still going strong on PBS, Britbox, and disc… Any astute fan of the show would predict spinoff series. Sure, one of those fictional detectives ain’t never comin’ back, but that still leaves three.

Just one year ago, fans of Death in Paradise were elated to learn of a spinoff series called Beyond Paradise, featuring DI Humphrey Goodman, Kris Marshall. Since flying out of Saint-Marie, Humphrey has been working for the London police. He and his romantic partner Martha Lloyd have become engaged. Then the two lovebirds decide to move to scenic Devon where Humphrey will head up a tiny division of the police force and Martha will open and manage a stylish café that serves only locally-grown foods. Martha is Sally Bretton, a veteran of such hit comedy shows at Green Wing, The Office, and the long-running Not Going Out.

They start out by living with Martha’s mother, played by veteran British TV actor Barbara Flynn. Many may not know her name but will recognize her face. This character is particularly well developed. She isn’t portrayed in black and white. Instead, she can be kind and supportive, an understanding shoulder to cry on, but also occasionally judgmental.

At the station house, Humphrey works with two quaint, comical characters who are the secretary and the underling police officer, but his DS, played by Zahra Ahmadi, is intelligent, serious, and solid. Humphrey is his lovable old self – a bumbling klutz at times, but a brilliant crime solver. It’s a character that Kris Marshall was born to play.

Thinking back twenty years to his performance as lovable goofball Colin Frissell in Love Actually, or to his more recent appearances in Sanditon as Tom Parker, the man who works hard to rebuild the seaside resort town, it’s a given that audiences take to Marshall’s onscreen curious charm.

Beyond Paradise has it all. Well-written characters acted by talented pros, mysterious crimes to be solved—especially in the Christmas special, and a scenic backdrop. A second season is underway.

In late 2023, a second spinoff was announced. The upcoming series in The Paraverse, as the franchise has been dubbed, consists of six parts and is called Return to Paradise. It’s set in Dolphin Cove, Australia. The principal DI is Australian ex-pat Mackenzie Clarke, known as Detective Mack. Mack is a woman top-cop, and she isn’t thrilled to be reassigned from London to her hometown of Dolphin Cove where she left unpleasant memories – and a romantic relationship that fell apart. Casting isn’t made public yet.

Meanwhile, Death in Paradise season thirteen lies ahead. In the first episode of the upcoming season, the Commissioner will be celebrating fifty years of police service. I look forward!

Audrey Kupferberg is a film and video archivist and retired appraiser. She is lecturer emeritus and the former director of Film Studies at the University at Albany and co-authored several entertainment biographies with her late husband and creative partner, Rob Edelman.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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