While on vacation at a resort hotel in the West Indies, Miss Marple correctly suspects that the apparently natural death of a retired British major is actually the work of a murderer planning yet another killing.
Feeling poorly, Miss Marple's nephew sends her to Barbados for a bit of a holiday. She finds the holiday a bit of a bore and nowhere near as interesting as life in St. Mary Mead. Things get a bit more interesting when one of the guests, the elderly Major Palgrave, is found dead. The death is put down to natural causes until one of the maids finds medication belonging to another guest in the late major's room. When the maid is also found dead it is clear that the Major's oft-repeated tale of knowing a murderer - he was in the colonial police after leaving the army - convinces Miss Marple that the murderer is someone at the hotel. Written by
Christie did all sorts of things with mystery, but in this case she stuck to the genre as genre. In this case, the idea is to deepen the groove, to follow the pattern and surprise with small things rather than the grand upsets of other stories.
In that case, the subtleties are important: the richnesses of character aren't there to define a person, instead to indicate a world, many worlds as candidates for the one world that is true.
These BBC do more than just tinker with the story, they flatten those worlds into characters, and then strut these characters as stereotypes. All the richness of the mystery is lost.
In this case, there's an extra cause for humor: to enhance the local flavor and also satisfy modern correctness, we have extended additions involving the local people: an aunt and a patronizing voodoo bit.
The result is an unwatchable mess.
Since nothing of value can be said of this particular episode, this is a good a place as any to remark on the portrayal of Miss Marple. In the books, the character is a busybody, slightly obnoxious, fussy. Bright, but only by measurements in her own world. She is as occupied with her garden as the gossip in the village. She is, in fact, as comical in her own way as Poirot is meant to be.
The BBC characterizations make Poirot more comical and Marple decidedly less so. She is reduced to one mannerism, an "oh dear oh dear oh dear" or some slight variation, while at the same time hovering near fondly remembered grandmotherisms. The whole
fulcrum of the craft is in the position of the detective, where they are in comparison to us. Here that fulcrum has been blindly moved to a sunnier spot.
A real shame.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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