• Network: HBO , BBC
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 23, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 27
  2. Negative: 2 out of 27

Critic Reviews

  1. 75
    The charming, fun series of books has become a charming, fun TV series (seven episodes in all) on HBO, starring Grammy-winner Jill Scott as the books' No. 1 protagonist/heroine, Precious Ramotswe
  2. It overflows with a distinctive feel-good vibe. It looks and acts more like a PBS series than something new on HBO.
  3. Ultimately, everybody's affable in this series. There are no sharp right angles, no emotional elbows.
  4. 25
    The pilot, while offering ample opportunity for the director to indulge in painting the grand, international tableaus that characterized his operatic feature epics, also exposes his tendency toward easy retreat into no-impact treacle when confronted with a culture not easily penetrated, even by an enthusiastic tourist.
  5. 90
    Detective series generally are not known for charm or sunniness. But The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency revels in both qualities, with often exhilarating results.
  6. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency takes some time setting itself up Sunday night, but those who stay with it will be rewarded with the funniest and most charming lady detective series since "Murder, She Wrote."
  7. Minghella's direction sets the tone for the series, placing Scott's boldly colored dresses against warm green walls and sand-brown buildings. Scott provides big love, but "Big Love" this ain't.
  8. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, whose pilot is the first feature-length film made in Botswana--a movie that starts off one of the most glowingly original, kindhearted, and genuinely engaging TV series of this fading decade.
  9. This is unusual fare for HBO, sunny and serene and easy to dismiss. But I think it will find an enthusiastic audience for its benign vision of the detective as feminine healer, grounded in the show’s lovely lead performance by singer Jill Scott as Precious.
  10. Scenes unspool, lives unwind, wicked acts are done, but so is justice, and under the lovely and indifferent African sun, it seems there is all the time in the world. It's hard to imagine a better place to be.
  11. There is a slow-growth, artisanal quality to the franchise, and the series, which stars an excellent Jill Scott as Precious, remains true to it. Anyone impatient with languorous pacing on television is at orange-alert risk of feeling fidgety.
  12. Magnificent cinematography, abundant animal life and lovely music that may contain harmonies unique to Botswana--all these make The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency a distinctly foreign affair. In the end, though, what comes through most strongly is not what's different, but how easily we recognize it all.
  13. 80
    A new limited-run series from HBO that is engaging, charming and intoxicating entirely on its own.
  14. In the end, I had to give in to sheer enjoyment. My wife and I couldn’t load the next episode into the DVD player fast enough.
  15. 80
    As charismatic and unfamiliar as Ramotswe is, after the first hour, it's hard to imagine becoming addicted to this series the way so many readers are addicted to McCall Smith's novels. But then, by the beginning of the second episode, we start to understand: This series is a dramedy, really, a more exotic, more absurd, more original version of "Grey's Anatomy," if you will.
  16. Cozy at times as any English village mystery, Smith's stories, like the snakes he often includes, have a way of striking when one least expects.
  17. Rarely have I smiled as early and as often at a new series as I have at this one, which manage to be gentle and sweet and lighter-than-air without ever departing from the Earth that we know.
  18. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    A series that departs from past pay TV heavyweights in possessing no more heft than a pleasant breeze. Then again, amid all the tumult in today's busy and bustling dramas, that may be just the sort of soothing balm that could make both HBO and an acceptable swatch of its viewers happy.
  19. 70
    I can't say you'll want to follow The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency religiously, like so many other HBO efforts, but it is an easy-to-like distraction.
  20. 50
    The series doesn’t mean to dig deeply into contemporary African social problems or politics, instead, it offers up middlebrow mysteries that can be solved in an episode’s time, a heroine who is keenly observant and positively feminine, a vague sort of half-step forward from Nancy Drew or Jessica Fletcher.
  21. While the premise begs a broader comedic treatment, the series is a leisurely paced drama with light jokes that mostly play on its characters' convoluted rendering of the English language.
  22. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    This doesn't feel mindless, just unmindful, and the best way to honor its late creators is to look away from it.
  23. If you have the patience and good humor to let the back stories and mysteries unfold in the 109 minutes of the first episode, you'll enjoy spending time with Mma Ramotswe and getting to know the landscape of her beloved Botswana, a peaceful nation in southern Africa.
  24. 100
    This is as good an adaptation as any Ladies lover could wish, one that overflows with the joys of life and exudes an all-embracing spirit. Be ready to be beguiled.
  25. 50
    What comes across as charmingly spare on the page frequently ends up lacking complexity on the screen.
  26. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    This is a gentle, good-hearted series and Scott was pretty much born to play Precious. But LDA can also be willfully, stubbornly languid.
  27. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    All this has the potential to be a little corny, but Ladies' is that rare show that manages to be uncynical without being cloying.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 52 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 52
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 52
  3. Negative: 5 out of 52
  1. Apr 27, 2012
    Just watched the feature length Pilot on DVD. Pleasantly surprised, delighted by the story-line, appreciated the music, humor & goodJust watched the feature length Pilot on DVD. Pleasantly surprised, delighted by the story-line, appreciated the music, humor & good casting/acting. Look forward to watching the full 1st season, and already hope there'll be MORE. Full Review »
  2. SandyS.
    Jul 28, 2009
    I absolutely loved this show and looked forward to watching each wk..please continue the series.
  3. rgdgg
    May 23, 2009
    We look forward to this show. It is fun, family entertainment and its setting in Botswana is unique and adds immensly to the appeal of the We look forward to this show. It is fun, family entertainment and its setting in Botswana is unique and adds immensly to the appeal of the show. We have watched all episodes and hope the series on HBO will be continued Full Review »