Agatha Christie –
Marple: Series Two (2005)
Sound: B- Extras: C+ Telefilms: B
Geraldine McEwan’s Jane Marple has been such a hit that
the series of telefilms continues and have not let up much, as seen in Acorn’s Marple:
Series Two set. This time, the
following four telefilm adaptations are:
Sleeping Murder (book
originally released as the last Marple novel in 1976, adapted by Stephen
Churchett) – A young woman buys a house she has never seen before, then starts
having drams about a murder there. Miss
Marple arrives and tries to reconcile how a young lady who grew up strictly in India could
know about a possible murder in Dillmouth, England. Sophia Miles and Dawn French co-star.
By The Pricking Of My Thumbs (1968,
adapted by Stewart Hardcourt) – Actually based on a book from the Tommy &
Tuppence series, recently appearing in their own set of TV adventures reviewed
elsewhere on this site, the duo visit Tommy’s Aunt Ada. When someone disappears, the duo investigates,
but they luck out when Miss Marple turns up to find out why. Greta Scacchi and Charles Dance guest star.
The Moving Finger (1942, adapted by Kevin
Elyot) – Poison pen letters abound when anyone moves to Little Furze in Limestock, England. When a few targets of those letters turn up
dead, Miss Marple is finally called in to investigate. James D’Arcy, Imogen
Stubbs, Frances de la
Tour and director Ken Russell co-star.
The Sittaford Mystery (1931,
aka Murder At Hazelmoor, adapted by Stephen Churchett) – Former James
Bond Timothy Dalton plays Captain Trevelyan, who while traveling has loaned out
his mansion. The book was a stand-alone
mystery without Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, but this version has Marple
running into Trevelyan on a train not long after he has hit gold in an
expedition. Oh, and the guests keep
holding séances! Patricia Hodge, Michael
Brandon and James Wilby also star.
It should again be said that all the stories take place in
the 1950s, with an interesting twist in a backstory of Jane suffering decades
later over the long lost love of her life, though it is not as present here. The show still has the feel of the best
Christie without any pretense or dullness.
McEwan continues to excel in the role, further breaking the Murder
She Wrote TV stereotype, as the films do not follow any formula. That is as refreshing as the great directing
and performances, though the first set of films were a bit stronger.
The anamorphically enhanced 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image is very
nice, very stylized and you can tell serious money was put into this show like
the two Nero Wolfe television series of the early 1980s and late
1990s. This is rich, lush and lavish,
recalling the best theatrical Christies of the 1970s and early 1980s. The use of color is much more like it versus
the tired cliché of desaturated images, though I thought the first set had a
slight edge in the definition department.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound has some very nice and smooth Pro
Extras include a stills gallery, text on the cast,
Christie and Marple on Film and TV on DVD 1.
Stills and bios repeat on DVDs 2 – 4, though the casts obviously
change. All four of the telefilms have
their own featurettes, which is nice, but also shows the aggressive marketing
and strong confidence in the show. The
new set is worth your time, but we would recommend you begin with the first,
reviewed elsewhere on this site.
- Nicholas Sheffo