Agatha Christie: Marple – Series Five (2010/Acorn DVD Set)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B Episodes: B
is turning into one of the most important TV series based on Agatha Christie
material, Marple – Series Five
brings back Julia McKenzie (the second actress to play her in this version) in
three more classic mysteries, including one of the most famous Marple outings, The Mirror Crack’d From Side To Side
which became a big feature film in 1980 from James Bond director Guy Hamilton
with Angela Lansbury as Marple, Charles Gray, Geraldine Chaplin, Edward Fox,
Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Margaret Courtnay.
years later, we get this new version (adapted by Kevin Elyot) with Joanna
Lumley returning as Dolly Banton, who she played in Body In The Library
(2004, on the Series One set
reviewed elsewhere on this site) and is just as good here as before when a
famous actress (Lindsay Duncan (Rome) reuniting with Lumley from their New Avengers episode Angels Of Death back in 1978) with
something to hide is nearly poisoned to death.
Miss Marple investigates, but is injured by a reckless car driver, so
Dolly has to do some of the legwork.
Based on the 1962 novel, I always thought the conclusion was a mixed
affair, but up to that, it is good storytelling and this version is as good as
the star-powered feature film. Now if
only someone would issue the 1992 Joan Hickson TV movie.
The Secret Of
(based on a non-Marple mystery from 1925, though the book version introduced
Superintendent Battle, adapted by Paul Rutman) as Marple and Lady Virginia
Revel (Charlotte Salt of The Tudors)
visit the home of the Chimney family and a dead body turns up, something that
happens to Miss Marple often. In this
case, Inspector Finch (Stephen Dillane of The
Greatest Game Ever Played, an underrated film reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere
on this site) helps out and the party turns out to be over before it began with
all the secrets covered up by the estate… until the murder. Edward Fox also stars.
leaves The Blue Geranium (a short story from the 1932 Marple shorts
collection Tuesday Club Murders aka Thirteen Problems, adapted by Stewart
Harcourt) has Sir Henry Clithering (Donald Sinden of Day Of The Jackal, Rivals Of
Sherlock Holmes, The Prisoner, Villain) helping Marple out when a rich
woman supposedly dies of shock when her wallpaper turns blue! Why? A
second murder makes it more bizarre and even with the help of Detective
Somerset (Kevin McNally of Valkyrie,
Long Good Friday, The Spy Who Loved Me) the wrong
person(s) may be framed unless Marple can figure out the toughest secret of
all. Toby Stephens, Sharon Small, Joanna
Page and Paul Rhys also star.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image can look good in each case, but there
are still too many instances of softness here that a Blu-ray edition might not
have, but these are nicely shot for HD television productions. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is also
well-recorded in all cases with some surround activity, but this is often
dialogue-based just the same. Extras are
the most for any Christie set Acorn has issued to date, including Agatha Christie’s Garden, a 2006
documentary that takes us to the author’s most private places and serves as a
biography of the woman herself, well narrated by Pam Ferris (Rosemary & Thyme, Cluedo) who at the time had just played
Mrs. McGillicuddy in the early telefilm adaptation (also on the Series One set with Joanna Lumley’s
appearance) of 4:50 From Paddington (aka What Miss McGillicuddy Saw) and does a great job here
delving more into the private life of the most successful fiction writer of all
time. Mystery writing legend and
Baroness P.D. James is among those interviewed and the rare stills, footage and
new location shoots are impressive. (Lumley narrated The Agatha Christie Code, still not available in the U.S.
on DVD, but reviewed elsewhere on this site.)
On its own DVD, you also get bonus footage, a Christie text bio and is
also an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 presentation with Dolby Digital 2.0
the actual shows include text interview by McKenzie and Lumley on adapting Marple, text on shooting locations,
information on events for the 120th Anniversary of Christie and cast
filmographies on each dramatization.
is all that good. You can read about the
previous DVD Series sets at these links:
- Nicholas Sheffo