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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Telefilm > British > Agatha Christie – Marple: Series Three (2006)

Agatha Christie – Marple: Series Three (2006)


Picture: B-     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 Davidson co-star.


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 established hit.


Now, can the show just keep up the solid level of production it has achieved?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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