Nine years after Humphrey Goodman debuted on Death In Paradise, Kris Marshall has reprised the role on a new spin-off titled Beyond Paradise.
Humphrey – often a chaotic, meandering detective – was the second permanent DI on Death In Paradise, a popular figure during his three-year tenure.
As for Beyond Paradise?
The show follows Humphrey and his fianceé Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton) almost six years after they said goodbye to Saint Marie.
Now on a new adventure back in the UK, they’ve moved to Martha’s Devon hometown of Shipton Abbott and live with Martha’s mother Anne (Barbara Flynn).
For the purpose of this review, we’ll be examining three distinct categories:
- The Setting
- The Characters/Actors
- The Storyline
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
As mentioned, Beyond Paradise follows in the footsteps of its sister show by taking place in a fictional location.
Over the course of 12 years, Death In Paradise‘s Saint Marie has expanded to the point where it’s akin to its own character within the show.
While Shipton Abbott (in reality Looe in Cornwall) pales in comparison to Saint Marie at face value, it is also paradise albeit in a different way.
As of writing, two episodes of Beyond Paradise have aired, showing viewers stunning British scenery in sunny weather.
Beyond Paradise keeps the coastal theme of the original show and a houseboat even plays a big role in Episode 2.
I like that although the two shows deviate in many ways, they still share some DNA. There’s some nice connectivity, a familiarity for long-term viewers who want the same ‘vibe’.
Both series are intended as light family entertainment — ‘cosy’ mysteries during the colder months.
For this reason, Humphrey trudging through wet British weather would not have the same effect.
A picturesque location also lends plausibility to tourists visiting – hence interesting stories for the potential guest cast.
Alongside Marshall and Bretton, the producers assembled a cast of familiar faces as Humphrey’s police team.
Whereas some members of the DIP team made their big acting debut on that show, there’s already a comfort level with many of these actors.
Alan Partridge star Felicity Montagu (Lynn) particularly shines on Beyond Paradise. She plays Margo Martins, the station office support who has a wonderfully dry, sarcastic sense of humour.
Derry Girls‘ Dylan Llewellyn (James, ‘The Wee English Fella’) also gets to portray a very different character. Unlike the nerdy James, the actor plays PC Kelby Hartford, whose unorthodox thinking proved a big asset in Episode 2.
Having seen Llewellyn play an outsider for so long, it’s refreshing to have his character be a local of the setting.
Last but not least, former EastEnders actress Zahra Ahmadi completes the team as DS Esther Williams.
While most DS’ on DIP tend to defer to the DI, Esther is quite openly not sure what to make of her new boss.
Although never rude or hostile, I enjoyed that Esther simultaneously helps ingratiate Humphrey in Shipton Abbott while also rolling her eyes at his antics.
Away from the police team, the final new character is Martha’s aforementioned mother Anne, played by Barbara Flynn.
The presence of both mother and daughter upends the dynamic we have come to know on Death In Paradise, with friction at home as well as while on duty.
Furthermore, the longevity of the Paradise franchise clearly attracted an impressive guest cast.
Across the first two episodes, we have already seen TV veterans Jamie Bamber, Phil Daniels, and Jaye Jacobs.
In addition, Davood Ghadami, Yasmine Akram and the late Ruth Madoc, among others.
Much like the most recent series of DIP, the new show has a wider story at play.
While Neville on DIP was dealing with a wider conspiracy, Humphrey’s drama is much closer to home.
On DIP, the DI typically lives alone (with Harry the Lizard for company), however, Beyond Paradise gives more of an insight into Humphrey’s family life and problems away from cases.
We’re reintroduced to Humphrey as an engaged man – one who wants to start a family.
This is an interesting reversal of his DIP debut – where his previous marriage was coming to an end.
As well as this, Beyond Paradise revisits the classic trope of a ‘fish out of water’ – in this instance, Humphrey is a newcomer to Shipton Abbott.
It’s something we’ve seen done multiple times on Death In Paradise. How will Beyond Paradise differentiate? This remains to be seen.
In many ways, DIP tends to prioritise the investigation with less character exploration.
Beyond Paradise reverses this trend, at least so far, by digging deeper into Humphrey as a character.
In some ways, the cases connect to what he’s going through – such as a case with children involved after Humphrey and Martha’s conception struggles.
While already diverging from DIP, the writing of Beyond Paradise retains many of the same qualities.
Modern technology might hopefully allow DIP characters to make an appearance – or vice-versa for Humphrey in the future.
Even in just two episodes, the writers have created very real stakes for Humphrey. In addition to the case, there’s also curiosity about his personal life and how that will pan out going forward.
After all, viewers have a long investment in Humphrey from his DIP days. There’s a level of care that leads of new shows usually take a long time to earn.
Beyond Paradise airs Fridays on BBC One
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