ORBzine - Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) TV Review

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Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020)

Season 1


Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 1, Episode 1] Inheritance
Shown 31st March 2020

This is set in Victorian-era London, but it was filmed on location in Dublin. What a pity that they missed the opportunity to actually set it in Victorian Dublin. Unfortunately Irish History seems to begin at Easter of 1916.

Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) inherits her father's business. He was a private detective, although this is set before the age of Sherlock Holmes . An elderly man hires Miss Scarlet to locate his missing female relative.

We are also introduced to Miss Scarlet's love interest. He is a senior police detective called Wellington, nicknamed The Duke.

Miss Scarlet interferes with the local prostitutes, who are the best career-women in town. She also becomes frenemies with Moses, a big scary black man.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 1, Episode 2] Miss Scarlet And The Duke
Shown 7th April 2020

Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) has a new client, the wife of a man accused of murder. The victim had a tattoo of a dark blue rose. It turns out that this was a secret symbol for closeted homosexual men - in an era when it was highly illegal.

Miss Scarlet rejected her potential suitor, an effeminate mothers-boy, but he is happy to be a silent partner in her business. It turns out that he had no more interest in her, or in any woman, than she had in him. In other words, she would have been a beard not a gold-digger. Now they just have a business contract instead of a marriage one. Just as well, because his mother - an empowered woman and example of Matriarchy - is Miss Scarlet's landlady ... and the rent is overdue!

Somehow, the justice system seems to have done away with trials. Instead the suspect is about to be publicly executed in only one hours time. Our heroine must race against time to save the day. Yes, it is completely contrived and unrealistic.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 1, Episode 3] Deeds Not Words
Shown 17th April 2020

Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) is hired by Wellington to infiltrate a gang of political extremists. Is it the Irish or the socialists? Worse - the Suffragettes!

The previous episode dealt with closeted homosexuals, so it makes sense that the next item on the Social Justice list would be the suffragette movement. That said, this show is shot in Ireland so there are many other aspects involved. The Victorian era saw the beginning of social change, such as Gladstone ending child labour, but the episode wants to imply it is happening too slowly. Modern-day sensibilities are foisted onto an era almost a century and a half ago. One example is the insinuation that families would teach their sons literacy, but not their daughters. In reality, lower class people regarded boys as beasts of burden who were denied education while literacy was reserved for females.

One of the Suffragettes is suspected of murdering a man. It turns out that she was obsessed with a Gentlemen's club, a social venue which acted as a safe space for male people. She complains that men go to clubs, brothels and gambling dens - echoing Scarlet's complaint about Wellington and his manly pastimes of drinking, womanizing and gambling. If this was produced thirty years previously, we would assume that Miss Scarlet was flirting with Wellington. Their antagonistic relationship might be intended as Han-and-Leia type banter, but to a modern audience it is clearly just meanness on her part.

Why must a woman detective prove herself to men? Perhaps because she is an uneducated amateur, while the men are professional police officers. The fact is that she constantly chides Wellington for his manliness, and then complains that he is unchivalrous because he treats her like an equal.

Finally, the Suffragette chides Miss Scarlet. Although she is a self-employed businesswoman in a business normally associated with men, and thus a trail-blazing role model for other women, her customers are all men. In reality, there is nothing to stop her doing business with women - after all, the landlord that she owed rent to is a woman. Also, Wellington was her client this week and he ultimately takes payment and orders from Queen Victoria!

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 1, Episode 4] Memento Mori
Shown 21st April 2020

Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) has a new case, involving spirit photography. She gets involved in the local spiritualist scene, and meets a medium who claims to speak with Miss Scarlett's deceased father.

The other great glimpse at Victoriana is when a house-maid sends a message using a postcard-delivery service. Yes, this is set in an age before telephones or even the domestic telegraph.

Inspector Wellington has problems of his own. He has to curry favour with his boss if he wants to be promoted to Chief Inspector. A journalist (Kevin Eldon - Hyperdrive ) has offered to write a story glamourising the work of the Police. Unfortunately the current open cases are somewhat mundane.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 1, Episode 5] Cell 99
Shown 28th April 2020

Wellington has a new case to solve. This time it is the disappearance of Miss Scarlet herself. Worse, the clock is ticking because Wellington's boss invited him to a formal-atire event.

The trail leads to a disused prison that was closed because of a smallpox virus. Wellington and Scarlet get trapped together, like an old-fashioned Dangerous Hours plot. However, this is not a filler episode - it is a key part of the story arc concerning the mysterious death of Scarlet's father.

Wellington and Scarlet both have conversations with Mr Scarlet (deceased). He is presented as a figment of their imagination, not a ghost, which explains his absence from the previous episode.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 1, Episode 6] The Case Of Henry Scarlet
Shown 5th May 2020

After the events of the previous episode, Wellington has the biggest forgery case in Scotland Yard's history on his hands. Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) is put into witness protection, for what good it does.

It looks like Moses the Jamaican was somehow involved. Was he the brains of the operation? Or is one of the other supporting characters a secret criminal mastermind?

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Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020)

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2 , Episode 1 ]
Shown th June 2022

Reviewed in our special supplement Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020)

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020)

Season 2


Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2, Episode 1]
Shown 14th June 2022

This Season is still set in London, but the filming location has been shifted from Dublin to Serbia.

The Duke has a new boss. Instead of the old aristocratic one, now he has an old meritocratic one. The new boss is a plain-speaking working-class man who worked his way up through the ranks, not unlike Wellington himself. This is reminiscent of the police chief in the similar show Murdoch Mysteries, although that character seems to be intended as a strawman for the patriarchy and toxic masculinity.

The new boss brought some of his own men with him from his old unit. One of them, Fitzroy, is a complete incompetent - and Wellington wants to fire the man before someone gets killed. Unfortunately, this is the one man it is impossible to fire.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2, Episode 2]
Shown 21st June 2022

The Duke still struggles with his incompetent employee, Fitzroy, who goes out of his way to find even more ways to screw up. For example, the man is now an opium fiend.

Miss Scarlet publicly humiliates yet another rich old person, who might have become a useful ally if treated better. This time it is a woman, so at least Scarlet is an equal opportunities offender.

Scarlet gets hired to locate a stolen piece of art, a sketch which was created by Charles Darwin himself. The prime suspect is the owner's ex-husband, an embittered man who is unhappy with the women in his life. Yes, a typical straw-man villain.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2, Episode 3]
Shown 28th June 2022

Miss Scarlet has lost her mother's ring. Luckily the police have found it for her. The bad news is that it was at a crime scene, so she has to go on the run as a suspect.

The Duke has to team up with Moses to catch a gang of grave-robbers. He presumes this is because they want to sell bodies to anatomists, although by the year 1882 this trade had ended. Yes, we know the year because this case is linked to events 25 years earlier, in 1857.

The incompetent detective, Fitzroy, is beginning to show more competency. However, the Superintendant is obsessed with social climbing ... and when he is not kissing up to his social superiors, he is demanding unquestioning obedience from his minions.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2, Episode 4]
Shown 5th July 2022

Miss Scarlet is hired to investigate an extortionist. One of the clients is a South Asian, but there is actually a good explanation for this casting. The bad news is that Scarlet has a rival, a private detective who has a larger firm. The good news is that she has a friendlier male admirer - the elderly curator of the Royal Botanical Society.

The Duke gets chewed out by the Police Commissioner, who wants his son - detective Fitzroy - to be on the front line of policing. Luckily the Chief Inspector has a plan: put Fitzroy in harm's way, so he can die a hero's death. Strange that the Duke is in the Chief's good books after their falling out in the previous episode. After all, Scarlet's servant is still dating the coroner so the consequences of the previous ep are acknowledged.

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2, Episode 5]
Shown 12th July 2022

The Duke gets promoted to Chief Inspector. The bad news is that the position is in Glasgow. Yes, the boss has pulled a few strings and arranged a transfer from the London Metropolitan Constabulary to an entirely different police department in a country with a different legal system. Of course, among other things this will leave Fitzroy at the mercy of his enemies in the department.

Miss Scarlet and the Duke investigate a murder that resembles one in a recently-published thriller novel. They interview the novelist, who has an alibi. Nobody realises that his sister seems to be the brains of the operation. This leads on to a subplot about female oppression - if a spinster makes a lot of money, is it a bad thing if her business partners get their share?

Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) Miss Scarlet And The Duke (2020) [Season 2, Episode 6]
Shown 19th July 2022

Miss Scarlet decides to make a deal with the rival PI. However, someone takes a shot at them. Her first job for her new business partner is to catch the shooter, and whoever hired him.

Inspector Wellington is preparing for his move to Glasgow. His superior officer has done everything possible to save his career the transfer is an alternative to unemployment. However, his subordinates might actually pull through for him.

This episode ties up a lot of loose plot threads from this Season. It involves a villain from Season One, who used to be a criminal mastermind but now is sadly incompetent.