An Incomplete List of Concerns I Have About the Promised Miss Fisher Action Film Trilogy [CONTAINS S3 SPOILERS]

Posted: November 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

This article came out today. I Have Concerns.


1) BUT PHRACK. I am massively, massively invested in Phryne and Jack, and I would wager     literally all the money I have (which is admittedly not very much, possibly enough for           one of Miss Fisher’s lesser hats at 1920s prices) that the same is true of a vast majority         of the devoted audience on which the producers are counting. If there is no Phrack, we         will turn off in our droves. AND WE WILL BE BITTER. If there is Phrack for the first ten         minutes before Jack is conveniently disposed of for an alternative love interest, WE WILL     RIOT. (Possible exception if we get Queer Miss Fisher temporarily, but she’s been                   demonstrably quite heterosexually orientated thus far in the series.)


1b) Relatedly: with the possible exception of my beloved husband, Nathan Page is blatantly      the most beautiful creature on God’s green earth, and despite the obvious gloriousness         of Essie Davis (lovelovelove) it will Not Be The Same without him. HIS FACE IS AN                 OCTOGON OF CHEEKBONES AND SORROW. If another actor is positioned as Miss                   Fisher’s ‘sexy sassy sidekick’ (thank you Anna!) or love interest or whatever, he will             both i) inevitably fail to live up to Page’s standards and also ii) cause MASSIVE                         RESENTMENT. (See 1).


2)  What about Dot and Hugh? It stretches credulity somewhat (shut up) to have them                 pitching up in exotic locations continually, and Hugh wouldn’t even be a policeman.             Neither would Jack, of course, but see previous re. sexy sassy sidekick. The Miss                       Fisher/Dot relationship is delicate and beautiful and touching and has gathered a lot of         depth over 3 series, and whilst Miss F is clearly heading to England without her at the           end of S3, it would be very sad to see it dissolve entirely for sustained periods of time             (although that does sound terribly like the kind of thing producers regard as an                       unavoidable casualty of moving from TV to film).


3) And Mr Butler! Same issues. *suspicious glare* It sounds a lot like the things that made      the series so joyful and glorious could be sacrificed in the generic transition from drama      series to ‘action movie’, and that would be SAD.


4) What if it is massively racefaily? The Lin Chung’s Chinese family episode was pretty               heavy on cliché and problematic racist troping, and whilst I am basically unmoved by          ‘but it’s not like the books!’ as significant criticism in this particular case, if this                    problematic and othering attitude is repeated with films set in ‘Arabia’ ‘India’ and other      ‘fun…destinations’ it would be a terrible letdown (not least for non-white fans of the          show).


4b) I am not qualified to comment – read, shamefully ignorant – about the show’s                         representation of Aborigine people, but I gather there were also issues here that                     increase the likelihood of 4).


5) What is with this ‘young Miss Fisher’ bullshit? There are a not insignificant number of           representations of beautiful young women kicking ass in popular culture, albeit not              enough compared to representations of men kicking ass, and one reason for the series’        appeal (and success) is its aspirational and three-dimensional representation of a                  woman who ISN’T in her teens or twenties, and has a bit of age and depth. Essie Davis,        heroine of all of our hearts, is 46 and looks at least two thirds of that, and her Phryne’s        self-assurance and self-knowledge are both commensurate with her age and                            immensely attractive because of it. I don’t want to see a hot 18-year-old being                        implausibly brilliant in all the ways. I want to see an older woman who has been                      through life and learnt *how* to be implausibly brilliant in *some* of the ways being          just-about-plausibly brilliant with a little help from her friends. I suspect I am not                alone.


6) BUT PHRACK (See 1).


7) This is a side note, but ‘focusing on a younger, 18-year-old Fisher, the spin-off would          follow the aristocrat character as she migrates from the UK to Melbourne and stumbles        into her detective work’ is a massively inaccurate representation of Miss Fisher’s                    history as we’ve been shown it so far. She wasn’t born aristocratic, she grew up in                  poverty in a rough Melbourne suburb, and we’ve already seen her childhood in                        flashback in some detail as well as hearing it discussed because of her sister. The                    implication here is that a poverty-stricken teenager somehow migrated to the UK and          then…migrated back to Melbourne at 18? I mean what? Unless this is bad journalism            and/or they’ve got the locations muddled – which is WORRYING IN ITSELF – that just            isn’t going to work. We are already swallowing that a poverty-stricken child inherited          money from distant relatives who died in the war (fine). But that’s one leap, it’s not the      700 leaps necessitated by ‘and then she managed to migrate to the other side of the              world and back again before turning 18.’


8) BUT PHRACK (See 1).


9) “I reckon we could do three Miss Fisher movies, absolutely,” Eagger said. “The fan base      is so passionate. If you’ve got a successful franchise, why not (make more than one                movie)?”

Okay, let’s see, shall we?

a) Because unless you do it well and with careful attention to the elements of the show said fan base is passionate about, you will lose that audience.

b) Miss Fisher is a franchise based on a particular formula – ensemble cast, slow-build narrative arcs behind episodic storylines, attention to character as well as action, three-dimensional and emotionally charged central relationships, etc etc etc. By shifting the medium of that franchise you are already shifting the nature of your product. I want to see brilliant 3-dimensional Essie Davis-led Miss Fisher films (with Jack as loyal, combative, sexually charged and hopefully satisfied sidekick) as much as the next Miss Fisher fan. But I need more assurance than I am currently being given that the aspects of Miss Fisher I value and respond to will be maintained in *shudder* action movies.

c) Film franchises tend to get worse as they go along (with a few honourable exceptions). We would all like to assume this wouldn’t happen to Miss Fisher, but on this evidence, we are hardly assured.

d) You run the risk of destroying said fan base and diluting the best aspects of the show by bending it to new medium/generic conventions. This is bad.


10) “We want it to be like the Indiana Jones movies,” Eagger added. “We might not have            Steven Spielberg’s budget but that is what she (Phryne Fisher) is – an action hero. She          got to be able to fly the world.”

Yay Phryne, but she isn’t just an action hero though, is she? See 9. I like Indiana Jones and all, but that franchise hardly has the same emotional depth as Miss Fisher does. (Unless, apparently, you are an archaeologist/paleoanthropologist, which I am not.)


11) “It could be ‘Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears’ so she has to go to Arabia. We’d love to       go to India. We have fun thinking about the destinations.”


See 4).



13) Forget all this nonsense. What about Dr Mac? Is Dr Mac going to travel with Phryne?             Because Dr Mac is the absolute best thing ever and she is funny and sharp and dry and         also a great representation of queer, and I would be SAD if this got jettisoned for the             sake of compulsory action movie heterosexuality.




This is an incomplete list. I look forward to the resolution of said concerns by any means necessary, preferably the addressing of all these points by the producers….



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