47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
The best and worst of Marple,
This review is from: Agatha Christie's Marple: Series 5 [DVD] (DVD)
Christie purists may not be amused by what has gone on here.
'The Pale Horse' is a travesty of the original story, and not a patch on the adaptation with Colin Buchanan, Hermione Norris and Ruth Madoc. People who want a genuine thrill with suspense, pathos and atmosphere should try to track down that earlier version.
'The Secret of Chimneys' was even worse, possibly the worst Marple adaptation I've ever seen. It is quite an accomplishment to destroy not only the original story, but also its sequel 'The Seven Dials Mystery'. Stock Christie cliches are lazily shoe-horned into a nonsensical plot that has none of the wit and humour of the original. The genuine heroine of the tale, Bundle Brent, is relegated to a bit part in her own story; and the killer's identity is changed to suit the entirely new plot the writer has invented.
As a result I was hardly looking forward to 'The Mirror Crack'd' but it was an unexpected delight. Lindsay Duncan was perfectly cast as Marina. The story was faithful to the novel without being slavish. There was just the right mix of camp fun and tragedy.
The omens then were mixed for 'The Blue Geranium', based on a short story in the collection: 'The Thirteen Problems.' But it was excellent. The story was tightly plotted, and although the scriptwriter invented a swirl of other stories to camouflage the central plot, this was done extremely skilfully. This, to me, seems a much better prospect for the ongoing 'Marple' franchise, than the wearisome practice of inserting Jane Marple into non-Marple novels.
I would give the adaptations a variety of ratings from 1 star to 5. The average is 3. People who don't know the source stories, or are less fussy about sticking to the novels, might enjoy these adaptations a lot more than I've suggested. Julia McKenzie is looking more comfortable in the role, and although the casting of actors better known for sit coms can get a little strange, the acting is not too bad.