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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Telefilm > British > Documentary > Agatha Christie: Marple – Series Five (2010/Acorn DVD Set)

Agatha Christie: Marple – Series Five (2010/Acorn DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B



In what 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.


Thirty 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 Chimneys (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.


That 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.



The 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 Stereo.


Extras on 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.


Yes, it is all that good.  You can read about the previous DVD Series sets at these links:















-   Nicholas Sheffo


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