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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Miss Marple--Your Reactions?

Now that the four "Marple" mysteries have been aired and digestsed, I offer my take. I thought they declined in quality til the last one was a bit absurd. But on the whole they were delicious fun. The first, "A Pocketful of Rye" was the most quintessential: manor house, debauched family, intrigue, wills, etc etc. The second, "Murder is Easy" involving an unbelievable spate of crime in a small and quaint village, was almost as delightful with a terrific cast of who's who's--but the huge body count was a bit disconcerting. The third, "They Do It With Mirrors" was well-acted and had a great central group of characters but veered towards the bizarre and I didn't like the tragic ending. As for the final ep, "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?". Well what can I say--it took campy mystery to a whole new level. It was definitely the weakest. But it didn't spoil the tenor of the bunch--Julia McKenzie rocked.

So that was my twitter-like take on the series. What did you all think?


  1. Well I was not so enamored with Julia McKenzie as Marple. I enjoyed the more spunky approach of Geraldine McEwan. I decided to watch these for the supporting cast which are always excellent. My fave of the bunch was Murder is Easy. With Shirley Henderson, Sylvia Sims, and Anna Chancelor I was in English Actress Heaven. It's the only one of the four that actually made sense by the end. Heck in "Evans" I gave up trying to understand what was going on. I don't see why they keep trying to insert Marple into stories she's not involved in originally. It always feels as if she's shoehorned in. I think it'd be a good time to put Miss Marple to bed for awhile. Maybe try a new Sherlock Holmes.

  2. When I read gettsr's comment, "I don't see why they keep trying to insert Marple into stories shes not originally involved in," I had a classic AHA! moment!

    You see, I've haven't read much Christie beyond And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express. Furthermore, I had never watched the previous Marple series. That's good, because I was not watching Julia McKenzie with an eye jaundiced by prior experience.

    And yet, as I watched, I had such a strong feeling that something was "not right" with these stories.

    First, of course, were the confusing plots. Confused thoughts and feelings during a really good mystery of any kind is quite normal. However, by the grand finale, everything should "just make sense".

    If you watch the episode again, it's for the pure enjoyment of re-watching the genius detective figure it out while you already know the details. One should never be forced to watch a program multiple times because you just "don't get it". With Marple, I said to myself, I just don't get it, so forget it. Not good.

    Secondly, during several segments, especially during "Evans", I remember saying to myself, "What in the world is this woman even doing in these people's lives in the first place? When the main character comes across as superfluous, there's something definitely wrong with the "creative minds" behind the screenwriting.

    So I took a trip to Wikipedia where it was revealed that only 2 out of the 4 stories were written by Christie as Marple mysteries! "Murder Is Easy" featured detective Superintendent Battle and "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" featured Bobby & Frankie alone. No wonder we were confused!

    Goodness, we're used to Hollywood's taking "poetic license" with stories beyond recognition, but PBS & the Beeb? It's understandable when screenwriters eliminate or combine characters for the sake of the story... and often rightly so. But throwing in a Big Name Detective into the main character slot that didn't before exist?? That's just twisted.

    Masterpiece has a screw loose where Marple is concerned. If you advertise the series as "Six by Agatha", then by darn tootin', they ought to BE stories AS WRITTEN BY AGATHA, not as written by Agatha et al.

  3. I couldn't have said it better myself. Great thoughts MacSmiley.

  4. I'm afraid I missed the whole series. I loved the last Miss Marple, and confess I was put off by the idea of a new actress in the part. If Julia McKenzie really did rock, I guess I should take another look.

  5. Thank you, gettsr. My thoughts were actually your thoughts expanded. I really like the "Twitterishness" of your statement.

    Sorry I did not comment on the acting. I'm sure it was wonderful (and seeing Matthew McFaddyen again so soon is nothing to complain about), but the story tampering and plot flaws distracted me too much to notice.