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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 9 February 2012
I grew up with the Joan Hickson incarnation of Miss Marple, and for me she was the very essence of what the character should be - ageing, a little frail, seemingly befuddled, yet sharp as a tack.

Then along came ITV's new version with Geraldine McEwan and I was horrified. What had they done to the stories?! Characters were invented or dropped without rhyme nor reason, plotlines introduced (lesbians sell, apparently), and in some cases, Miss Marple was there where no Miss Marple had been before! And then there's the pacing - these stories fly along at breakneck speed with hardly a second to pause for breath. What was going on? But I persevered with them and found them to have a certain charm. Geraldine McEwan, although a fine actress, is by no stretch of the imagination Jane Marple - she's too sprightly for one thing - but I warmed to her. Then she left and Julia McKenzie took over, and I was immediately charmed by her take on Miss Marple.

I then revisited the old BBC versions with Joan Hickson... and how SLOW they seemed! Yes, they were wonderfully filmed, and yes, Joan Hickson is a fine Miss Marple, but I began to long for the modern versions. This Miss Marple now seemed a bit TOO old, a bit TOO slow, and I was frustrated at how long it took to reveal things. The acting from the other actors also seemed to be hammier than I remembered.

Comparing the two versions, I appreciate the Joan Hickson stories sticking closer to the original stories, but with the modern versions, I actually like that they spend less time on exposition and more time on action. They're more fun, they're beautifully shot, and the list of co-stars reads like a who's who of the British TV industry. It's often as entertaining trying to work out where you've seen this or that actor before as it is trying to workout whodunnit. Joanna Lumley's Dolly Bantry is a personal favourite - especially compared with the dull as dishwater version from the 80s. Joan Collins also appears, along with Martine McCutcheon, Jamie Theakston, Alan Davies, Dervla Kirwan, whatsisname from whaddyamacallit, whatsername from that thing with that other guy, and a whole host of other stars.

Despite my initial reservations when the series first started, I'm now a convert. Julia McKenzie is great as Miss Marple (still not sold on Geraldine McEwan, I'm afraid) and while the writers have played fast and loose with the stories (even the murderer changes!), it's a great, modern take on stories we know so well. While the Joan Hickson stories are all very nice and good, and great for a rainy Sunday afternoon, these new ones are 90 minutes of fun. I wholeheartedly recommend them - just don't expect them to follow Agatha Christie's lead.
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on 19 February 2013
I had already watched some of these Marple stories on TV and was really delighted to watch them all on dvd. Originally I found them disappointing compared with the earlier 80s versions with Joan Hickson but now I appreciate the more modern episodes and enjoy noticing similarities and differences between the two - i.e. directing, filming, casting etc.
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on 15 October 2013
This is probably the best box set I've ever bought! There is one thing that keeps bugging me when I read reviews, people keep saying Geraldine McEwan is not that great, well, in my opinion, she is the best Marple of them all. People keep say how amazing Joan Hickson was, but I personally didn't like her portrayal at all, with Miss McEwan, she gives the amateur sleuth real compassion, humour and kindness, and is acted incredibly well, and I've found her episodes to be the best. Also people keep knocking the fact that they change the killers, endings blah blah blah, but that's all been done before and it's 2013, they have just boosted this story and given it a real cool new twist and I love it. I would also like to say that Julia McKenzie is a fantastic replacement for Geraldine McEwan and is doing an amazing job. Overall, my favourite episode is "At Bertram's Hotel" great cast, story and I love the music! Great boxset, but it
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on 26 June 2013
This is one of the best modern adaptations of Agatha Christie's famous Miss Marple books. Yes, there are some character changes and the storylines are a little different in some but it is still a great success and well worth watching.
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on 27 August 2013
As my title suggests I am going to apologise for this review now as I think (according to other reviewers) I will be in the minority and obviously you will need to make your own mind up BUT I can no longer contain my frustrations and annoyance with this series.

Now, let me make it quite clear. I love murder mysteries in all their glorious shapes and sizes both literary and on film. I especially love the Agatha Christie televisations Poirot (ITV - the earlier ones were so much better than the later ones obviously produced with the American market in mind) and Miss Marple (BBC). You can imagine how much I was looking forward to these (especially in the wake of the Poirot series). How very, very wrong I was.

All gloss but very little substance. Plot lines changed beyond recognition. Plot lines missed out completely. Characters introduced that have been absent from previous incarnations. Characters given personality transplants. Themes introduced for the sake of the p.c brigade. Terrible acting. Complete miscasting. And so much more that Im afraid to go into because, believe it or not, at heart, Im a very positive person. This show though brings out the negativity in me. I have grown to hate it with a passion. A complete travesty of a show and having just seen the latest story on tv I have decided I can no longer watch it. Instead I shall return to the older Joan Hickson show - or even the light hearted Margaret Rutherford version.

I guess if you have little or no expectations then you will probably enjoy it but if you are an afficiendo of this type of genre then be warned. Okay, well at least that has got it off my chest.

The dvd was a present by the way and was fine as a dvd box set goes.
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on 11 September 2012
I am really happy with this wonderful package of Marple DVDs. Personally I still like Margaret Rutherford best, but she only played in 4 adaptions. So I tried the modern versions and must say that I like them. Geraldine McEwan seems to come very close to my idea of a Miss Marple.

Everything is great except for the fact that I do not like it when they show in detail how somebody gets killed (some scenes are just too extended). I am not sure if it was necessary to include the women love stories. The constant smoking and the drinking gets a bit too much after a while. Therefore I only give 4 stars.

But all in all this collection is great. Many known faces appear and I need to get used to the fact that there are always different inspectors unlike in the Hercule Poirot movies where you always have the fab four (Poirot, Hastings, Insp. Japp and the wonderful Miss Lemon).
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on 6 May 2012
How much you like this series depends on how much you judge it against the books and whether you get irritated by inaccuracies or can enjoy the stories for their differences. The series contains adaptations from the Miss Marple novels and short stories. They have also adapted some of Agatha Christie's stories that Miss Marple did not figure in. Personally, I have no issue with the latter (as I always felt there wasn't enough Miss Marple), as long as its done well and they get dear Aunt Jane right. With these adaptations, its a bit hit and miss across the board.

Geraldine McKewan is totally wrong for Miss Marple - too much Mortianna from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, for my liking. But Julia McKenzie is delightful - she gets just the right balance of Miss Marple's scatty, fluffiness alongside her blistering sharpness when the denunciation is called for.

The brief for these episodes seems to bring us 21st century adaptations of Miss Marple - condensed into about an hour and a half, bigger, bolder, brighter and noisier than previous ones, showcasing the current crop of our very fine actors, something for the modern audience. There also seems to be a need to regularly change essentials of the storylines from those in the books - this ranges from changing the murderer and/or their motive, to changing almost the entire story & keeping nothing more than the title (e.g. Why didn't they ask Evans?). If that doesn't worry you, then I'm sure you'll enjoy them. For me, however, loving the original books and the previous Beeb adaptations that stuck so closely too them, I found it irritating and unnecessary. Agatha Christie was a clever enough writer to provide us with enough intrigue and surprise, without changing any essentials, purely for sensationalism. For example, to bring a lesbian sub-plot into The Body in the Library was nothing short of a travesty but to show the very subtle lesbian plot in A Murder is Announced is understandable - it was there in the original book & ITV did a similar thing with the Poirot adaptation of Five Little Pigs (& beautifully done it was too).

Sometimes the adaptation seems intent on making the impression a comical one, such as in The Mirror Crack'd, with loud, cinematic-style music that was almost a DA-DA-DA-DAAAAAAAAAAA every time something of note happened, endorsed by close up shots and a wonderfully OTT performance by Joanna Lumley of Dolly Bantry. Not right for the story but enjoyable if you want to suspend disgust at such treatment of one of Miss Marple's best stories. But when they get it right, they get it oh so right - The Blue Geranium, for example, is one episode, I personally found engrossing and faultless (Toby Stephens & Sharon Small - wonderful!).

Overall then, great in places and cringeworthy in others. But perhaps a reflection of the change in style of TV for the modern generation.
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on 26 November 2011
Agatha Christie's name for being the queen of mystery is correct. After just finishing this collection i was just stunned by how complicated and interesting it was. Moreover, the costumes and locations were indeed very lavish and the cast was superb. A highly comment the acting of the first miss marple Geraldine Mcewan however Julia Mckenzie is also very good. This made a very good gift for my brother who is a hugh Marple fan. A must have for all Poirot fans.
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on 26 December 2013
I have of course watched all these twenty stories over the years, with the great "Miss Marple" and I am thinking of buying this box set. I understand twenty discs, series 1-5, two Miss Marple, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie.

Can someone kindly explain how this works, how many "Geraldine" and how many "Julia". I was all set to purchase "Joan Hickson" box set, but after reading all the comments, I have decided on this one.

I do feel this was something I should have known, but I have been so involved with "Poirot" lately, I just cannot remember.

Thank you for your help, keep watching.
Regards. Pam.H.
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on 25 December 2012
Excellent, Brilliant - Geraldine McKeown marvelous. Not all that keen on Julia McKenzie. I suppose one gets used to seeing Geraldine's Miss Marple - she plays the role so well with much amusement.
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