Conflict has surrounded the “contemporized” versions of Agatha Christie’s series following Miss Marple’s escapades; the reason being what is claimed as drastic changes from the book and the BBC’s focus on being PC over pushing modern ideals on viewers. Through it all, I’ve stuck with the series and relished them all – this 3-episode latest season is both entertaining and eccentric.
Taking in the air in the Caribbean is what the doctor ordered and so that is what Miss Jane Marple (Julie McKenzie) does. Indulging in a long stay at a resort, Jane is acquainted with her fellow guests, including an elderly Major (Oliver Ford Davis) whose loneliness makes him eager to reminisce about his days in the war and the stories to accompany that with anyone who will listen – that person is most often Miss Marple. The owner of the resort, Molly Kendal (Charity Wakefield) – along with her husband, Tim (Robert Webb), has not long been the proprietor of the business her parent’s ran and is keen to make a good impression on her wealthy clientele – even if that means some of the male guests mistake her kindness for flirting.
Among the guests are a free-spirited American couple (Charles Mesure, MyAnna Burning) and unhappily married British couple (Alastair Mackenzie, Hermione Norris), who clearly share more just a supposed friendship, and a suspicious presence in the young artist turned priest, then there is the staff – when a young maid (Pippa Bennett-Warner) is found murdered by Molly, suspicion falls on the poor girl whose guilt is made to look worse when it begins to look like she is going crazy, a fate Molly has feared considering her family past. But with Miss Marple waiting in the wings, there is a mystery to be solved and secrets to come to light.
Oddly enough the reactions to all three of these episodes could be very different. I know mine were. Not unusual to my track record of past Marple episodes, I felt like the first installment (‘A Caribbean Mystery’) started off too slowly for its own good and by the time things ramped up, it was too far into the mystery to really give good storytelling (though – hello! – there is a snazzy reference to the inception of James Bond which I loved, and think Ruth will appreciate), this was not so with the second episode (‘Greenshaw’s Folly’) which I adored and though this could have stemmed from my love of its cast, it seemed more than that. Then comes the “finale” if you will, titled ‘Endless Night.’ This is probably the oddest episode I’ve seen yet, though I will give it credit, its script is intoxicating! This one pulls you in and makes you doubt your initial assumption, weaving back and forth between outcomes while hoping for the best and it’s made all the more convincing by its cast who really command their roles very convincingly.
Speaking of those cast members (the guest stars), again there are many familiar faces – including some from favorite miniseries or current BBC series. Just to name a few, there is Joanna Vanderham (The Paradise), Kimberly Nixon, Tom Hughes (The Lady Vanishes), Joanna David, Fiona Shaw, Julia Sawalha (love seeing this Pride and Prejudice alum in anything) and of course, Charity Wakefield from the BBC miniseries, Sense and Sensibility. There is probably no recognizable British talent that hasn’t shown up in this series at some time or another and the current season (now airing on ITV) is no different. Those who are fans of this “modernized” version of Agatha Christie’s lovable sleuth will find more sensational drama at hand. The atmosphere is fabulous with settings that are beautifully indicative of the era (the 40’s) and costuming that rises to match that.
Fans of BBC mystery or Agatha Christie will find a solid set of installments in this latest Marple series. They’re equal parts fun detective mysteries and terrifying which is what keeps things interesting!
What about all of you: have you seen Marple? Do you like it or not?
If it's a series you like, let's chat about this series, or watch it tonight and come back to share your thoughts! I've love to get your impressions.
Catch the premiere ('A Caribbean Mystery' + 'Greenshaw's Folly') of season six in the U.S. tonight on ITV.
Watch the trailers:
(Parental Review: Episode one reveals two extra-marital affairs [as does episode three] and shows an unmarried couple talking in bed together. There is scene of a couple in a state of undress. Multiple people die in the three episodes though the camera rarely shows much graphic – people drown, are stabbed or shot, someone is poisoned, another suffers a fatal fall and another has their neck slit. Two people are made to think they are physiologically crazy.)