Agatha Christie –
Marple: Series Three (2006)
Sound: B- Extras: C- Telefilms: B
Well, against all odds, they did it. Granada managed to revive Agatha Christie’s
classic detective Miss Jane Marple and come up with a hit show that works. Now, Acorn’s Marple: Series Three set
has arrived with Geraldine McEwan continuing her credible work in the title
role and the following four telefilm adaptations this time are:
Towards Zero (book
originally released as a major stand-alone Christie novel without Marple or any
of her other usual detectives in 1944, adapted by Kevin Elyot) – Miss Marple is
exchanging ideas about murder motivations with a gentleman educator (Tom Baker)
when another murder falls into her path visiting Lady Tressilian. So much for a pleasant visit. Eileen Atkins, Saffron Burrows, Greg Wise and
Julian Sands also co-star.
Nemesis (1971, adapted by Stephen
Churchett) – One of the later Miss Marple classics upon its publishing, a wealthy
old acquaintance of hers passes away, but not before issuing a major challenge
involving a small fortune to solve a murder.
May have partly inspired Neil Simon to write Murder By Death. Richard E.
Grant and Amanda Burton guest star.
At Bertram’s Hotel (1965, adapted by Tom
MacRae) – Miss Marple checks into the title vacation spot, but as expected,
gets little rest as this visit back to a childhood time uncovers a possible
robbery plot on a massive scale and things becomes darker yet. Martine McCutcheon, Francesca Annis and Peter
Ordeal By Innocence (1958, adapted by Stewart
Harcourt) – In another stand-alone mystery originally without Miss Marple or any
of her other usual detectives, Marple has to solve how an innocent man was
framed for murder, then how the man who discovers this, Arthur Calgary, is
almost killed. Now, he has amnesia,
leaving Marple to fill in the blanks before the next murder attempt. Much better than the 1984 Donald
Sutherland/Faye Dunaway/Christopher Plummer/Ian McShane/Sarah Miles feature
film version, Jane Seymour, Juliet Stevenson and Richard Armitage also star.
It should again be said yet again 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 telefilms do
not follow any formula, though there is still a sort of semi-safe framing that
holds back some of the finer points of the original shows.
The anamorphically enhanced 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 image is once
again 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 still 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 Logic surrounds.
Extras include a stills gallery, text on the cast, Christie and Marple
on Film and TV, but no new featurettes to push the show, as it is now an
Now, can the show just keep up the solid level of
production it has achieved?
- Nicholas Sheffo