Remote Patrol: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Jilly from Philly's a long way from home for her first starring role.

In The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, a six-episode adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's bestselling novels co-produced by HBO and the BBC, musician, poet and actress Jill Scott takes on the singular persona of Botswana's first female detective. Yet the two share enough traits to make a good fit despite Scott's relative inexperience on screen.

As Mma Precious Ramotswe, a newly wealthy-by-inheritance Botswanan who moves to the country's capital to open a detective agency, Scott's sunny charisma effectively blunts her awkwardness adopting a foreign accent and cadence. Character and actress have a more natural affinity in their sense of independence, female empowerment and personal justice.

As militant as that reads, this is easily the most pleasant view of the African continent you'll see outside of nature series, and it ranks alongside Psych as one of the lightest detective shows on TV.

With the help of her deeply committed assistant (Anika Noni Rose) and a smitten mechanic (Lucian Msamati), Precious develops an instinctive, endearingly comical way of dealing with both a philandering husband and the local black-magic-believing crime lord.

The only things threatening her irrepressible force are an occasional excess of cute and the loss of late Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella. The two-hour pilot was his final work as a director.

"The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"

8 p.m. Sundays, HBO

Grade: B+