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 the 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! Bert and Cec? 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.”
12) BUT SERIOUSLY, PHRACK? (See 1).
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.
14) I MEAN IT. WHAT ABOUT PHRACK?
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….