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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2006
"The Secret Adversary" and the short story collection "Partners in Crime" (both from 1922) were Agatha Christie's second and third-ever book, but their quirky protagonists, Tommy and "Tuppence" (Prudence) Beresford, were not to share the eventful career of their colleague Hercule Poirot, who had debuted two years earlier with "The Mysterious Affair at Styles;" nor that of Christie's almost equally well-loved (and personal favorite) village sleuth Miss Marple, whose first adventure ("Murder at the Vicarage") would not be published until 1930. Christie only authored three more Beresford mysteries: 1941's "N or M?" (a WWII spy thriller set in a coastal guesthouse), 1968's "By the Pricking of My Thumbs" (where a visit to a nursing home prompts them to track down the real-life object of a painting, only to find themselves hunting for a child murderer) and "Postern of Fate" (1973), the last book written by Christie (although not the last one published); more a postscript to the superior earlier stories.

Not as eccentric as Poirot and Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence are nevertheless immediately likeable, and perfectly cast in this 1980 - 1982 TV series with Francesca Annis and James Warwick, reprising their successful collaboration from the 1980 realization of Christie's "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" Taking its title from the second entry in the Beresford cycle, originally only the short stories contained in "Partners in Crime" were developed for television; "The Secret Adversary," although set earlier in the literary originals' sequence and providing critical background information on the couple's friendship, was only adapted as a feature film two years later. (The original order is restored in this video and DVD release, which features the couple's first and longest adventure as part of Set 1.)

Although "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" had already proved Christie to be a writer of exceptional talent, her first Tommy and Tuppence adventures - penned for financial reasons as much as out of a desire to write - still show her style as a work in progress, sometimes lacking certainty as to what exactly works in terms of characterization and storylines. While she succeeds, like in the first Poirot mystery, to immediately draw in her audience, and the Beresfords are presented in as much detail as the little Belgian with the many gray cells, the plotlines sometimes stretch credibility and have a whiff of the kind of story that Arthur Conan Doyle could get away with 20 years earlier, but which Christie herself (wisely) only took up infrequently later (and generally with more solidly constructed plotlines and often with Poirot as the main character). Thus, if the televised versions of these early Tommy and Tuppence stories appear somewhat less convincing than the subsequent, more acclaimed adaptations of Christie's Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries, this is at least partly owing to the literary originals themselves: The creators of the TV series reproduced the mysteries' "swinging Twenties" setting successfully and with a fine eye for detail; and Francesca Annis and James Warwick give terriffic performances as the vivacious, hat-loving Tuppence and her (almost) equally witty, slightly more settled husband.

Tommy and Tuppence's boisterous young assistant Alfred is portrayed by Reece Dinsdale (best known, since, as Guildenstern in Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" and D.I. Scott in the mid-1990s British cop show "Thief Takers"); and there are recurrent appearances by British TV regular Arthur Cox as Detective Inspector Marriott, in the televised version chiefly responsible for establishing the couple as owners of Blunt's International Detective Agency (in the books, the agency is a cover for the Beresfords' spy activities), who informally continues to consult them whenever he feels that Scotland Yard's official capacities have reached their limits.

Although not quite on the level of Christie's more famous mysteries and their recent TV adaptations, this series is an enjoyable romp through the the swinging 1920s' London. And who knows - maybe 20+ years after its initial airing we'll see a realization of one of Tommy and Tuppence's later adventures? Annis and Warwick might be about the right age for "N or M" now ... or even better, "By the Pricking of My Thumbs," which unlike the earlier mysteries easily stands up with the best of Christie's other works!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Sunningdale Mystery

Pure deduction

After the Grate World War, Tommy Beresford (James Warwick) and Tuppence (Francesca Annis) are out of work and form a partnership in a detective agency. They eventually marry and continue their detection business. On the surface they look like they are stumbling into the answer of each mystery they solve. But upon further observance they are cunning and resourceful.

In this "The Sunningdale Mystery" story by Agatha Christie and screen play adapted by Jonathan Hales, the international Detective Agency is not finding enough clients so they go out to solve a mystery found in the paper.

In this mystery part of the Tommy and Tuppence, "partners in crime" series, Tommy and Tuppence actually go to the scene of the crime, do their deductions in Hercule Poirot fission using the little gray cells. It is unique in the fact that they do not interview any suspects.
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The Ambassador's Boots

Solve a crime and have fun to boot

After the Grate World War, Tommy Beresford (James Warwick) and Tuppence (Francesca Annis) are out of work and form a partnership in a detective agency. They eventually marry and continue their detection business. On the surface they look like they are stumbling into the answer of each mystery they solve. But upon further observance they are cunning and resourceful.

In this "The Ambassador's Boots" A story by Agatha Christie and screen play adaptation by Paul Annett, Tommy and Tuppence have just saves someone from an international kidnapping. So at an exclusive party they are introduced to the ambassador from the United States.

Later the Ambassador tells them of a mystery where his bag got mixed up with another. You may have guessed that his bag contained his boots. Even though it seems trivial Tommy and Tuppence are determined to get to the bottom of why the bags were swapped and then the other party denies it ever happened.

For some reason you get the feeling that they are just acting and everyone is just going thru the motions. Do not get discourages as it is part of the plot to get to the bottom of the mystery. You will find that the Partners in Crime" are more cunning and coordinated than they look.
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The Case of the Missing Lady
You will want to get the real skinny on this one

Agatha Christie's "The Case of the Missing Lady" adapted by Jonathan Hale.

The Scene opens with a moaning lady; hovering over her is a brute assistant Muldoon to what looks like a mad doctor and his Brunhilda looking assistant. To make matters worse there is the biggest hypodermic syringe ever conserved by man. It is half full of green glop.

Gabriel Stovington just returned from a two year stint in the artic and is getting the runaround while trying to find his fiancé. He is in need of a detective agency.

After the Great War Tommy Beresford (James Warwick) and wife/ assistant Tuppence (Francesca Annis) buy the Blunt International Detective agency. And with out any background become detectives. By the time you get to this episode they are getting good at it (maybe).

The acting at first make you thing that you are sitting in the front row of a Bernard Shaw play.

Of course it is an obvious secret message. However being clever they figure that the message is some sort of rendezvous. It is to take part at the Three Arts Ball (costume ball) where one of the sleuths gets to dress up as Sherlock Homes and the other as Dr. Watson. One guess as to who gets to be homes.

After the ball is over, like most of the revelers, they go to xxx to have a drink an early breakfast. There they notice a man costumed as the local paper entering a private booth with a woman and coming out alone. We are way ahead of them on the plot

As with most of the "Partners in Crime" series we are fare ahead of them on the whom. The fun is to watch them figure out not only the whom but the other details. This story is a period piece of just after The Great War.

Made for TV and fairly transparent, this film still has all the ambiance of a BBC Agatha Christy production. It is a period piece and employs many major English actors. Detective Inspector Marriott (Arthur Cox) played the newspaper reporter Salcombe Hardy in Dorothy L. Sayers' Have His Carcase (1987).
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The Crackler

"I promise to pay"

After the Grate World War, Tommy Beresford (James Warwick) and Tuppence (Francesca Annis) are out of work and form a partnership in a detective agency. They eventually marry and continue their detection business. On the surface they look like they are stumbling into the answer of each mystery they solve. But upon further observance they are cunning and resourceful.

In this "The Crackler" A story by Agatha Christie and screen play adaptation by Gerald Savory, Tommy and Tuppence are approached by inspector Marriott (Arthur Cox). He has a problem with funny money and needs someone with class to do a little snooping in the hoity-toity crowd to find the culprit(s). The inspector suspects it is a gang.

The partners in crime will be forced to go night clubbing and dancing. There are many suspects and they need to be narrowed down. They are aided by the third detective young Albert (Reece Dinsdale).

While they seem to be lead around by the nose we may be able to figure the plot but are the duo that naive or the cat's meow.
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The Man in the Mist

Do they have a ghost of a chance?

After the Grate World War, Tommy Beresford (James Warwick) and Tuppence (Francesca Annis) are out of work and form a partnership in a detective agency. They eventually marry and continue their detection business. On the surface they look like they are stumbling into the answer of each mystery they solve. But upon further observance they are cunning and resourceful.

In this "The Man in the Mist" A story by Agatha Christie and screen play adaptation by Gerald Savory, Tommy and Tuppence are just finished with a mystery that they almost solved. They just happened to guess wrong.

Mean time Tommy is still in his disguise as Father Brown when a new mystery falls into their lap. A well known actress seems to be in some sort of trouble and asks Tommy for his help. Naturally it is too late.

This must have been a longer story because when it got pared down too many details are missing Also all the things that we can not stand in a murder mystery are found here; there are too many read herrings just for the viewer (Not observed by the Partners in Crime). And the last person suspected will be found out by sleuthing not present to the viewers.

Still it is fun to watch and speculate. Also you get to learn a little of the period.
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The Unbreakable Alibi

Now you see her, now you don't

Agatha Christie's "The Unbreakable Alibi" adapted by David Butler.

After the Great War Tommy Beresford (James Warwick) and wife/ assistant Tuppence (Francesca Annis) buy the Blunt International Detective agency. And along with Albert, of whom they picked up on their first attempts at sleuthing are now in business.

Unfortunately, due to lack of crimes, things are going so slow that Tommy is doing the crossword puzzles; Tuppence is learning to be the perfect secretary by practicing sitting on Tommie's knee. Albert is reading detective comics.

Finally a client Mr. Montgomery Jones with a unique problem. It turns out that he bet an Australian woman Unna Frek that he could see through any alibi; she says not. The bet is on if he wins they marry. If not She disappears from his life. Looks Like he is in need of a good detective agency which guarantees 24 hr results.

She give two stories of being in tow places at the same time and he must fined out which one is true and which one is false.

The "Partners in crime" can not turn down the challenge.

During the investigation, Mr. Blunt (Tommy) passes off Tuppence as Miss Robinson, his sister so every man they come across makes advances.

Investigation both stories they find both to be true. The 24 hours are just about up.

This is a great series that grows on you. The have it has that British series feel with background music. It is similar to the Dorothy L. Sayers "Peter Whimsy" series.
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on 4 October 2011
These are excellent, simple, short stories and the main characters are perfect in their roles. They really have charisma. It's a shame not more tales were written about them.
I just wish the manufactuers would provide subtitles.
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on 15 September 2014
1st class
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