'Rosemary & Thyme - The Complete Series'
(Felicity Kendal, Pam Ferris, et al / 9-Disc DVD / NR / 2008 / Acorn Media)
Overview: Stunning gardens provide the backdrop for this hit British mystery series starring Felicity Kendal (Good Neighbors, The Camomile Lawn) as Rosemary Boxer and Pam Ferris (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Matilda) as Laura Thyme, professional gardeners and amateur sleuths. From their former careers as a university plant biologist and a police officer, Rosemary and Laura bring unique investigative talents to their horticultural and human mysteries.
DVD Verdict: Most mystery series have big tough longtime cops or lovably eccentric oddballs as their detectives. So it's a bit refreshing to see a pair of utterly ordinary detectives in the light mystery series "Rosemary and Thyme" -- one a cop-turned-housewife, and one a feisty horticulturist. You won't find any mind-blowing mysteries, just solid whodunnits and likable characters... and plants. Lots and lots of beautiful plants.
Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris) has just been dumped by her husband of 27 years, for a "twenty-three-year-old tart!" When visiting an old pal, she encounters plant pathologist Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal) who is promptly fired by her slimy boss. The two wronged women team together to solve a bizarre mystery involving poisonous plants, a car wreck, and a serial killer.
After that, Rosemary and Laura go into business together, treating sick lawns and creating picturesque gardens. But like any good detectives, they keep bumping into sinister crimes, both of the past and present: a spa matriarch is strangled at her desk, skeletons are uncovered in a murdered pop star's garden, and a man is killed in a graveyard... with an arrow.
Things don't improve much in the following seasons -- Rosemary and Laura end up dealing with wrecked romantic gardens, Parisian theft and murder, school pranks gone wrong, Italian restaurants, ferocious competition at a garden show, murder at a vineyard, sabotaged plays and tennis camps.... and even an abandoned baby that may have something to do with a murder.
"Rosemary and Thyme" is notable more for its cozy, cottagey feel than for its intricate mysteries -- but then again, they don't try to be complex or twisty. Instead, the stories focus on our likable horticulturists, and the lovely gardens they create or restore... and the entertaining dialogue ("You've broken the bloody window!" Rosemary yells at a sniper) makes this even more fun.
There's a pleasantly old-fashioned flavour to the series -- lots of vine-draped cottages, manorhouses, luxurious resorts, vineyards and herbal skills. Sure, there's laptops, TV shows, drug dealers and myriad cell phones. But those are just the trappings on an ordinary little mystery series, where the plant sicknesses often have something to do with the murders.
Of course, the leads make or break a series like this. Fortunately, Kendal and Ferris have excellent chemistry. Laura and Rosemary are an entertaining pair, with just the right mix of similarities and differences. Laura is a sensible ex-cop/housewife who is still dealing with her family tensions, while Laura is a cultured academic ("more a bookworm than an earthworm") with a rough streak.
Plant lovers and mystery buffs should enjoy the cozy, vine-covered mysteries of "Rosemary and Thyme." It's just fun and pleasant, all the way through. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
An Interview with Felicty Kendal and Pam Ferris