'Agatha Christie's Marple Series 3'
(Geraldine McEwan, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2007 / Acorn Media)
Overview: In her golden years, Miss Marple blends into the scenery of her elegant surroundings. All the better to observe the foibles of human nature that lead to evil -- and to surprise one and all when she solves crimes that baffle the professionals. Rich with period detail, these all-new adaptations feature stellar supporting casts, including Richard E. Grant, Amanda Burton, Eileen Atkins, Saffron Burrows, Greg Wise, Martine McCutcheon, Francesca Annis, Peter Davison, Jane Seymour, and Juliet Stevenson.
DVD Verdict: Now, I have to say right off, that, even though I appreciated Geraldine McEwen's portrayal much more, the scriptwriters had her saying the most hilariously inane things--unfortunately the viewer is tempted to laugh in all the wrong places, despite her excellent performance. No one on the production staff seemed the least bit concerned with historical or literary accuracy. It makes you sigh for what could have been.
Also ironic is the appearance of perhaps an anti-clergy slant, since Miss Marple was the daughter of an Anglican vicar. Earlier we saw at least one alcoholic rector, and now we have presented to us a), a society matron in the book Nemesis changed into a murderously obsessed nun for television; and b), a character changed from the kind, gentle Canon Pennyfather in the novel of At Bertram's Hotel to a crazed Nazi war criminal masquerading as an Anglican priest.
Nor is the QUIET, efficiently run establishment of understated elegance in the novel anywhere to be seen; it is a place of utter chaos invaded by an American jazz band (which Miss Marple seems to relish; she's almost snapping her finger to the beat--"Yeah man"). Yikes! By changing and inventing all the characters for the TV series while keeping some basic thread of the original plot, the viewer gets the worst of both worlds: Everything but the ending is now a surprise.
Which brings us to the most hilarious bit of all: In Bertram's Hotel, when Miss Marple asks Jane, the chambermaid, if she and the chief inspector are going to get married after discovering romance, the young woman says, "Oh no, we're just going to live together; that's how it's done these days" (remember, this is 1952); and even more roll-on-the-floor funny is Miss Marple's reply: "That's not what I would have done at your age, but I probably would now."
Oh yes. Little ladylike Miss Marple shacking up with the (not even very handsome) chief inspector. Good lord--where will the scriptwriters go from there? That's the REAL mystery. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
The Mysteries: Nemesis, Towards Zero, At Bertramís Hotel, Ordeal by Innocence
Agatha Christie bio