|Index||4 reviews in total|
I've been in an Agatha Christie phase for a bit and remembered having
seen this series on TV. It was great because it wasn't the traditional
Marple/Poirot/Tommy & Tuppence story, but some of Dame Agatha's lesser
known characters. I *really really* wish that this set would come out
on DVD because I'd snap it up in an instant.
For those wondering which stories were included in this series, here's the list:
1 The Case of the Middle-Aged Wife
2 In a Glass Darkly
3 The Girl in the Train
4 The Fourth Man
5 The Case Of The Discontented Soldier
6 Magnolia Blossom
7 The Mystery of the Blue Jar
8 The Red Signal
9 Jane in Search of a Job
10 The Manhood Of Edward Robinson
If this ever comes on TV again, enjoy! It's worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Once you get past the shot-on-video look (it only took me about 5 minutes in the first episode), this is a beautifully produced, elegantly costumed and set, well-acted (with only one notable exception, which I will mention below) series, based on 10 short stories that Agatha Christie wrote without any of her famous sleuths present (although Hercule Poirot's good friend Ariadne Oliver, the mystery writer, makes an appearance, and Poirot's secretary, Miss Lemon, makes two). 5 out of the 10 stories ("The Case Of The Discontented Soldier", "The Girl In The Train", "Jane In Search Of A Job", "The Case Of The Middle-Aged Wife", "The Manhood Of Edward Robinson") are lighter in tone and follow a similar pattern: an ordinary man or woman, who suddenly finds him/herself, either by request or by chance, caught up in an extraordinary adventure which adds excitement but also danger to their quiet lives. These episodes are pleasant but slight, and to be honest "The Case Of The Middle-Aged Wife" is almost dull, and "The Manhood Of Edward Robinson" suffers from the annoyingly exaggerated portrayal of a dork by its male lead. The other 5 episodes are, in my opinion, considerably stronger: "Magnolia Blossom" (an atypical love triangle tale that's more about personal integrity than love), "In A Glass Darkly" (a dark story about predetermined fate and post-war trauma), "The Mystery Of The Blue Jar" (a supernatural tale - or maybe just a long con), "The Red Signal" (the series' only traditional who-dun-it, but also who-will-it-be-done-to), and my personal favorite, "The Fourth Man" (a haunting tale about split personalities (?), possession (?), paranoia (?), science vs. religion, and growing up). Overall, "The Agatha Christie Hour" is well worth your time if you are a Christie buff, just don't expect all the stories to be on the same level of interest. I give the series as a whole *** out of 4.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
...which is the only one I've seen, this series should be worth
watching. I am a super-fan, and know all Christie's stories well. Many
of them are better than her novels - funnier, or more creepy.
The first is Jane in Search of a Job, with Elizabeth Garvie as Jane. She was a bit of a star in the 80s, despite not being "classically beautiful" as the romance novels put it. I love her conversation (not in the original) with the dancer in the queue (they are hoping to get an unspecified acting job). It is also nice to see a very young Amanda Redman as a "Princess". Stephanie Cole as a lady-in-waiting almost steals the show and looks rather good with frumpy clothes and swept-back hair.
In fact the best thing about this episode is the attention to period detail in clothes (30s, though the stories were written earlier). I love Jane's rented room (and sweet landlady). The furniture is pre-war, a bed has been shoved into a window recess. A corner with a sink is the kitchen/bathroom. Cooking is done on a gas ring by the fire. This wasn't quite correct - Jane seemed to be cooking on a standalone table stove. Perhaps not enough gas rings survived (they stuck out of the side of a gas fire).
I also like Nigel, Jane's admirer, doggedly following on a beautiful early motorbike. The story drags a bit, some of the extras look like padding, and some of the humour falls flat. But I look forward to the rest.
I deem these excellent because I am a thoroughgoing Christie fan who owns all her books and stories (except Hazelmore, aka Sittaford, which dealt heavily in the supernatural unacceptable to me as entertainment). I have also seen a large percentage of the film and TV adaptations and overall appreciate those. With that background, it is a treat to recently find out about this TV series featuring some of the very early short stories, most of which I have read. With the usual English quality dramatization and casting, this proved a very interesting series. As pointed out by another reviewer and from a background special feature in one of the video sets, the "pre-Poirot" stories, as they put it, introducing Miss Lemon and Adriane Oliver was a treat. I also knew from having read these that Christie didn't get around to concentrated full mystery books until later and that she had a sense of humor. This set depicts her earlier period and well, I thought. Overall, a veddy good show.
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