Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence – Partners In Crime
(Set 1 & 2)
Sound: C+ Extras: C Episodes: B-
The third most successful detective set-up Agatha Christie
ever came up with was that of Thomas Beresford and Tuppence Cowley, a sort of
great lost detective couple who first appeared in 1922! Well, 83 years and counting, something is
bound to get lost. Fortunately, a
series of British Telefilms based on the five books, one of which was a short
stories collection, was produced. Acorn
Media has issued all of them in two double DVD sets. Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence – Partners In Crime
is a really good series of telefilms, which starts with the 1922 debut book,
then delves into the short stories collection from 1929 for the rest of the
The Secret Adversary (guest
stars Honor Blackman, George Baker, Alec McCowen, Gavan O’Herlihy/teleplay by
Pat Sandys; directed by Tony Wharmby) – The newly formed duo take on their
first case, which turns out to have sinister links to the sinking of The
Lusitania, though that is just the beginning.
This is feature-film length.
The Affair Of The Pink Pearl (guest
star Dulcie Gray/teleplay by David Butler) – Where is a missing pearl and how
many will die for it before it is recovered?
The House Of Lurking Death
(teleplay by Jonathan Hales; directed by Christopher Hodson) – Is a woman alone
in her house being marked for death?
Finessing the King (which
concluded with The Gentleman Dressed In Newspaper/teleplay by Gerald
Savory; directed by Christopher Hodson) – A coded newspaper ad takes the duo to
a costume party. Can they “unmask” a
murder plot and who is who’s lover?
The Clergyman’s Daughter (which
concluded with The Red House/teleplay adaptation and directing by Paul
Annett) – Where is the fortune of a young lady’s late Aunt? Uncovering that she just did not die, but
was murdered, is the key.
The Sunningdale Mystery (guest
star Martin Rutledge/teleplay by Jonathan Hales; directed by Tony Wharmby) – A
golf-playing insurance agent turns up dead on his favorite course. Who made a hole-in-one-for-murder?
The Ambassador’s Boots (guest
stars Catherine (Von) Schell and Arthur Cox as Inspector Marriott/teleplay
adaptation and directing by Paul Annett) – Missing luggage, a physical
altercation and a government official bring the duo calling.
Man In The Mist
(teleplay by Gerald Savory; directed by Christopher Hodson) – Is there a real
ghost haunting a local village and why is all that fog really as thick a pea
The Case Of The Missing Lady (teleplay
by Jonathan Hales; directed by Paul Annett) – The fiancée of a well-known
explorer of The Arctic goes missing.
Can the duo break the ice and solve the mystery?
10) The Unbreakable Alibi (guest
star Anna Nygh/teleplay by David Butler; directed by Christopher Hodson) – The
duo get involved in domestic issues, trying to prove if a set of alibis is true
Crackler (guest stars Shane Rimmer and Arthur Cox/teleplay by
Gerald Savory; directed by Christopher Hodson) – The duo goes undercover for Scotland
Yard to find out about a forgery ring.
There were 13 tales in all in that short stories
collection, ten of which are represented here.
That left three more stories and three more full-length novels, but the
show did not catch on and was retired early.
James Warwick and Francesca Annis fill out the title roles with energy
and believability, also showing great diversity in their roles. The references to other detectives of the
time from the books are mostly dropped, as Christie wanted this to be a sort of
early genre send-up. However, the show
is sometimes funny when it should be serious and vice-versa, which throws some
of the shows off.
The 1.33 X 1 full frame image was filmed on the first
installment, and taped in PAL for all subsequent installments. The film looks and feels better than the
tapings, though they are not bad either.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 takes the monophonic sound and boosts it to a
simple stereo, which works for the Joseph Horowitz score and dialogue well
enough. Extras include text on Christie
and cats biographies on both sets and interactive trivia for each.
The only other thing to be said is (here comes a SPOILER)
that when they get…
…married, the show starts to fall into a formula that robs
it of potential fun and some of the spirit Christie intended seems lost. That has turned hardcore fans against it,
but it is not as bad as rumored. It may
be somewhat of a victim of the TV grid, but otherwise, these are fine shows
mystery and Christie fans can enjoy.
- Nicholas Sheffo