As the BBC’s drama slate has largely become dominated by dark and broody shows like Peaky Blinders and Luther, sometimes it’s nice to take a breather and unwind with something gentle and comforting. For the last ten years, Death in Paradise has provided that escape for viewers – a warm and light-hearted police procedural that feels as charming and reliable as an old Columbo boxset.
Celebrating a decade of whodunnits in the titular ‘paradise’ Caribbean, this tenth season feels like more of a celebratory victory lap than anything particularly new or ground-breaking for the series. With Ralf Little’s DI Neville Packer now taking centre stage, everything you’ve come to expect from the show is unapologetically presented as if trying to fill out a Death in Paradise bingo card. Much like the aforementioned Peter Falk classic, there’s never much suspense or tension in each of the eight cases presented here. The premise is simple – there’s been a murder, which is always neatly unravelled and solved by the end of the hour. Throw in some dad jokes and plenty of stunning scenery, and you’ve got yourself the television equivalent of a warm hug.
Offering a much-needed slice of sun-soaked escapism, Death in Paradise: Series 10 is a charmingly simple and familiar joy that is just what the doc ordered in these times of despair. It’s often totally unimaginative and unoriginal in its narratives and structure, but honestly, sometimes that’s the best kind of television. The series offers viewers a sweet and unchallenging caress, at a time when more prestige TV seems intent on virtually punching the viewer in the face with each bleak and violent episode. Watching Death in Paradise is more akin to being taken by the hand and pulled out of the harsh reality of 2021 and into mystery and laughter. Whether you’re laughing with or at the show is another matter, but hey, if it puts a smile on your face then it’s succeeding.
Death in Paradise: Series 10 is another eight episodes that, like their predecessors, make no effort to provide anything particularly memorable or challenging for the viewer – and therein lies its unmistakable charm.