Fans of the nine-part series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith will enjoy this two-hour premiere (pilot episode) on HBO on March 29. The premiere will be followed by six or seven episodes (though it is not clear if the series will air right away or pick up in June.)
The series tells the story of Mma Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott). When her beloved father dies, she sells the valuable cattle he has bequeathed her and opens a detective agency in Botswana. Precious hires a quirky recent graduate from the local secretarial school, Mma Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose) and makes the acquaintance of garage mechanic JLB Matekoni (Lucian Msamati) who becomes her very proper suitor.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film/pilot episode of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. It follows the original novel well and is beautifully filmed.
Though it is kind of sad to think that this was director Anthony Minghella’s final project as well as that of executive producer Sydney Pollack (both passed away in 2008), the series is a fine testimony and finale to their work.
Precious lets it be known that she wants to use the time and gifts that God has given her to do good. She also has personal demons to deal with and lessons to learn along the way. For a televison movie made by men, based on books written by a man (only author Smith, of European descent, was born and lived in Africa ), it has a keen womanly sensibility to it.
The actors are well-chosen. The ensemble cast is made up of American and African actors and to me the Americans are quite credible at least to the extent that they mirror their literary characters so well. Whether or not their accents are authentic or their behavior consistent, I will have to leave that to the good people of Botswana to judge.
Richard Curtis, Amy J. Moore, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein were also executive producers for the series which was produced originally for the BBC.
Wikipedia offers more information; seems to have been posted by someone from the UK who has seen several episodes:
This is a series you can just … enjoy. It has color, originality, community and family values, and lots of heart.