Agatha Christie's Marple - Series 1 (DVD, 2005) Reviews

Agatha Christie's Marple - Series 1 (DVD, 2005)

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Miss Marple - Only four episodes? (No spoilers)

May 13, 2012 (Updated May 13, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:it's Miss Marple!  Geraldine McEwan is delightful, the rest of the cast

Cons:only four episodes?  some cost-cutting with stock footage and such

The Bottom Line: Inever knew who done it until the end, although I did have my suspicions -- worth watching two or three times


Granada, a British television company, has blessed us with such gems as “Poirot” with David Suchet and “Sherlock Holmes” with Jeremy Brett as Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Watson.

They have also made a foray into the world of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple with this series of Miss Marple murder mysteries.  Each episode is about 94 minutes long. 

In this Granada-Acorn series made in cooperation with PBS, Geraldine McEwan puts her own face on Miss Marple, the elderly lady who solves murder mysteries in stories and novels by Agatha Christie.  I love her sweet voice and soft manner.  I wouldn’t necessarily say that she’s gentle, but she is kind and caring.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear what she’s saying, since she doesn’t project her voice as a stage actress is trained to do, but at least she doesn’t swallow her words.  Some of the other actors in this series do swallow their words, making it impossible to understand what they’re saying. 

Others have played Miss Marple, each in her own unique way. 

Margaret Rutherford, an Academy Award winning British actress, played Miss Marple in the first film made from Agatha Christie’s stories and novels, Murder, She Said.

You can gets lots more info here: 

http://www.poirot.us/many.php

The television series Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury, is an obvious homage to Miss Marple.  In fact, Lansbury played Miss Marple in the 1980 film The Mirror Crack’d

The iconic Miss Marple, at least to American film audiences, is Helen Hayes, the great stage actress. 

The cast

Tricks of hair, make-up and costume make it easy to forget that the same actors are playing different roles in the different episodes.  Several actors are semi-regulars, but they also bring in a few new actors in each episode. 

On the other hand, it is also difficult to figure out who the characters are.  They simply do not take enough time to introduce them to the audience, and they jump from scene to scene before I can find my footing or my sea legs.  This problem is at its worst in “A Murder Is Announced”, where we find about a dozen people gathered in a parlor, without really knowing who each one is.  They all turn out to be suspects, too. 

By the fourth season, Granada had replaced the regular supporting cast with a list of stars.  It seems that many actors with big names were “dying” to be in the series. 

Setting the scene

I find the Edwardian world fascinating, lying as it does between Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.  Two world wars and the growth of railroads and industry compete with the traditional way of life in which the nobility still rank higher than the common, working-class people, even though serfdom has been done away with.   

Episodes

“The Murder at the Vicarage”

Here we get a glimpse of why Miss Marple never married, as reflected in the motives of the murderer.  Many suspects have various motives for murdering the mean old rich man.  He’s mean and ornery, uncaring and crude. 

“The Body in the Library”

This mystery depends upon clues that become obvious only after a second or third viewing.  Nothing it what it seems to be – or where it is supposed to lie. 

“A Murder Is Announced”

A seemingly accidental shooting happens at a murder mystery party.  An inheritance lies at the heart of the mystery.

“4:50 From Paddington”

We get to see the old coal-burning trains and a bit of the English countryside in this take on “Murder on a Train”.  Not that it is based on “Murder on a Train”, but it does make me think of that Hitchcock thriller, “Strangers on a Train”. . 

Details

The luggage seems empty, too easy to pick up and carry, except when a plot point or a bit of character development depends upon a suitcase having some weight to it. 

The landscapes and building exteriors are awesome, although some of them do have the feel of stock footage. 

The costumes are wonderful, ranging from the rough outfits of ordinary people to the designer dresses of professional dancers and the suits and smart outfits of the upper classes.  In keeping with the period, the ladies sometimes wear corsets when they attend parties. 

Special Features

The first disk has a featurette in which we see snippets of interviews with the actors, as well as snippets from the series.  We get to see the director and the crew here and there, as well.  I enjoyed this featurette as much as I did the episodes. 

There are photo galleries consisting of still shots, and there are filmographies of the cast members. 

 Thank you so much for reading my review!


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