Reviews & Ratings for
"Agatha Christie's Marple" The Sittaford Mystery (2006)

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49 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Did anyone in the production team read the book?

Author: benbrae76
28 August 2006

Just who was it who dreamt up this dire drivel, and then had to gall to say it was based on Agatha Christie's novel "The Sittaford Mystery"? Someone should sit down and have serious rethink.

Notwithstanding the silly and superfluous inclusion of Jane Marple, this "adaptation" had no resemblance at all to Dame Agatha's mystery. The characters were mostly different, the plot was different, the motive was different, the murder was different, and the culprit was different. In fact virtually the only non-differences in it, were the blizzard and the seance. It took about 50 minutes of tedious atmospheric build-up before the opening scene of the original story was unveiled, and even that was different. I had to look at the TV magazine to assure myself it was "The Sittaford Mystery" I was actually watching. Did anybody in the production team bother to read the book? Long may this series of "Marple" be eventually buried and forgotten, and this particular episode must be buried deepest of all. Leaving aside for a moment that it was supposed to be an Agatha Christie mystery, the production was boringly slow, had a terrible and garbled script, which was indifferently, and in parts even badly acted. In short it was just an awful jumbled mess. I really can't find the words to express how bad it was.

I just cannot understand the reasoning behind the appalling butchery of Dame Agatha's plots. It's unbelievable! "Sleeping Murder" was carnage, but this was complete annihilation. There are many novelists of the genre whose works are yet untouched by TV, film or radio, and if new mysteries are needed, there are also many new writers out there to satisfy requirements, rather than completely destroying the works of the best in the art.

I'd like to know the answer to one question...what was the necessity of including Robert Hardy's cameo of Churchill? I just saw no point to it. But then for that matter, I saw no point to the whole programme! I can imagine Dame Agatha waiting at the Pearly Gates with law-suits in hand, for this was an insult, not only to her name, but to her genius.

I can only conclude by saying, that as a murder mystery in it's own right, it was murder to watch, and a mystery why it was made. One wonders what other "gems" of horrendous nonsense are yet to appear in this series. If you've any sense you'll give this particular offering of "The Sittaford Mystery" a very wide berth.

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39 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

What on Earth was that all about?

Author: petehazell from United Kingdom
31 May 2006

The Sittaford Mystery is one of those classic mystery stories - isolated community, a hint of the paranormal, legacies, prodigal relatives, all given a strong sense of location by being tied in with the Dartmoor landscape.

Enough of the book though, what of the TV adaptation? Calling it utter crap is being needlessly unkind to the brown stuff. Changing the murderer is one thing which should never be done at all. The victim was completely rewritten, as was the motive. ITV also saw fit to fling in an extra murder (purely for effect - note how nobody bothered to comment on it later on). Presumably this was an attempt to wake up people being bored rigid by the nonsense. Two characters appeared to swap names during the course of the story, and the largest part of the mystery (how the seance ties in with the murder) was totally scuppered by the changes made to the murder itself. The cast tried their best, but they'd have been much better off just making it up as they went along.

The only positive thing that you can say about this woeful heap of nonsense is that, as it is so different, even down to the culprit, even if you have seen the film, it won't have spoilt the book for you. Go and read that instead - it's got a plot, and it even makes sense.

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35 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Terrible - A bad adaptation of a great story

Author: Lynn Watts from Brighton
6 May 2006

I agree with all the other comments from Christie fans. It was terrible and especially disappointing for me as "The Sittaford Mystery" is one of my favourites. I was looking forward to a TV adaptation, even if they added Miss Marple to it.

There is not much I can add to the other comments - They changed the murderer for goodness sake, how much worse can it get!!. I especially disliked the weird camera angles as it made it even harder to watch.

I don't think it is the inclusion of Miss Marple that makes this adaptation so bad. She could have fitted quite well in the Sittaford Mystery if they hadn't so radically changed the plot. In the book the murder happens within the first few pages so to let it build up for an hour without much happening was a real drag.

Considering how well ITV adapt the Poirot novels it is a shame they've done so badly with Marple.

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49 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Ms Christie must be spinning in her grave

Author: ChrisQ from London UK
30 April 2006

This is another of the incredibly awful ITV's "Agatha Christie's Marple" series. The only similarity between The Sittaford Mystery and the book of the same name is that several character names have been retained - not alas Miss Jane Marple. She, like Winston Churchill, don't actually appear in the book.

The screenwriters have obviously produced a story they feel that Ms Christie should or would have written - if only she had access to their fertile imaginations.

It stars a host of well-known British faces. Each actor must have picked up their script, read the nauseating dialogue in disgust and then preceded to overact in a manner that would do credit to a Pantomime dame. (In fact Geraldine McEwen has even been kitted out in a Widow Twankey costume).

After 45 minutes, I discovered tedium had caused me to gnaw my left leg off. So off went the TV and I returned to my book "Lobotomy for Beginners". I suggest others tempted to watch this bilge should consider doing likewise.

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28 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Appalling rubbish

Author: dd1964 from United Kingdom
1 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having watched ITV presentation of the Sittaford Mystery, I am at a loss to know how they had nerve to associate Agatha Christies name with this utter tripe.

Apart from the fact Miss Marple never appeared in the Sittaford Mystery, the original story had been compeletey destroyed beyond recognition, even to the extent of changing the murderer, creating a fictitious eygptian connection, in all the biggest load of rubbish I have ever seen.

Not one of Itv productions of Miss Marple books (why must they insist on calling her Marple!!!) has remained true to the book, compared to Joan Hickson and the BBC version these are poor and appalling immititations.

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25 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Christie fans should skip it

Author: jojo-acapulco from Mexico
25 August 2006

Agatha Christie published Murder at Hazelmoor in 1931. In the novel, Captain Trevelyan, owner of Sittaford House, is murdered (elsewhere) and his nephew, James Pearson is arrested on suspicion. Pearson's fiancée, Emily Trefussis and Inspector Narracott believe Pearson to be innocent and eventually unravel the mystery of who killed him. One of Christie's better, but not her best, plot.

In this television adaptation, Miss Marple, a Christie character from several other stories, is grafted into the story and Inspector Narracott is deleted, along with a significant sub-plot involving the reason for the Willett's presence at Sittaford House. In addition, the adapters tossed in a homosexual note and, to make this even remotely believable, decided to shift the guilt onto a character that is, in the novel, entirely innocent. The result is a muddled, confusing mess, which would be better overlooked.

Furthermore, Geraldine McEwan entirely lacks the good humor and charm of Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple in another, far superior series of Christie adaptations.

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26 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Couldn't get past the first hour

Author: merlin-105
29 July 2006

It is one thing to take a classic and rather clever Agatha Christie mystery and completely gut it, leaving really just the name of the characters intact. That could be an interesting experience in deconstruction for, let's say, a film student thesis.

But, even assuming there is some merit to doing this and forgetting for a moment that this is supposed to be an adaptation (?) but instead just judging it on its own, this production is simply god-awful. Is it supposed to be a farce? It's not funny. The plot makes no sense whatsoever, the camera work is based on the conceit that each scene should be shot at a diagonal angle, which gets old after about 3 minutes. And what a terrible waste of several fine veteran English actors, all of which seem to be visibly cringing to be in this mess of a flick.

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27 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

An inconsistent mystery that failed to engage me at all

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
1 May 2006

Heavy snow is falling in the Dartmoor area of England and the guests of a small hotel find themselves being snowed in. News of an escaped prisoner loose on the moors dampens their spirits but to fill the time they decide to have a séance – even though one of their number, Clive Trevelyan, already has a connection with the other side. Meanwhile, at Sittaford House, Miss Marple discovers a death threat against Trevelyan and his loyal friend Enderby sets out to warn him despite the weather. When the séance predicts his death, things look bleak for Tevelyan, who finds himself surrounded by shadowy guests on all sides.

Several reviewers have already commented on the lack of respect shown to the source material but I would just say that those who have seen even one of ITV's "Marple" (not Miss Marple) series have no right to be surprised by this because it is a common factor across the whole lot of them. Accepting this, I wasn't looking for respect, just an entertaining mystery film – albeit the desecration of Christie's grave is rather a high price to pay for a Sunday night in. An hour goes by before we get a murder, which wouldn't be a problem if it used this time to do anything useful but instead it fails to build up back-story or characters. The slightly comic tone is forced and false while the actual mystery aspect is surprising dull – isn't the point of ITV revisionist approach to make it more energetic and accessible than the stiffer BBC version? As ever McEwan is all at sea with her character and does nothing interesting with Miss Marple. She is a dithery old thing but isn't able to bring out the sharp mind behind the physical appearance. The support cast ahs the usual famous names but, as usual, they aren't given much of value to do. Dalton is a strange find but he, Kaye and Smith are better than this. The performances are mostly a bit clunky even if everyone seems to be trying hard. The direction is colourful but the total delivery is badly inconsistent; comic music is played during unfunny moments and the visual trickery undermines the development of the story. To be honest I was bored and didn't ever really get into the story; I was hoping that the total rewrite of the original story would somehow produce something good but by the end of it I was left wondering what Churchett was thinking when he scrapped most of Christie's original novel.

Overall a bright and pointless mystery film that never decides what it wants to do and fails to do anything as a result. The presentation is bright but the mystery failed to engage me and I had lost interest long before it got anywhere near the solution. The cast can do nothing with the material and generally it just flops its way to the end without any great class or distinction. Others will say it is poor because of how it compares to the original material, personally I think it is poor even if you meet it on its own terms.

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25 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Comedy of Judgemental Error in Full Regale

Author: J. Wellington Peevis from Malltown
2 August 2007

Bastardization of the classic Agatha Christie tale, done for reasons known only to warped TV execs somewhere in London.

DO NOT WASTE EVEN 5 MINUTES on these recent travesties that pass as Mystery! installments here in America. Better to join Netflix and rent the older saner versions, which are still quite good. All of the Geraldine McEwan Marple tales; Sittaford, Bertrams, etc., aren't simply modern adaptations done for modern viewer trolling purposes, as we get so often with Shakespeare. Nor is it the writing of fresh tales using the familiar characters as was done quite successfully with Sherlock Holmes during the second world war. I guess that requires real talent and imagination by writers that apparently the schlock Grenada television people cannot find. No, what is done here is quite different and quite frankly legally dubious in my opinion. You keep the title, keep the characters, their names at any rate, but CHANGE the story. Yes, you heard me, quite literally Change the story! So Agatha Christie who I believe is the most widely read author ever, if we can leave Harry Potter out of the conversation, Agatha Christie stories according to the producers just ain't good enough anymore to portray as they were originally written. Of course the Agatha Christie franchise is still strong enough to use and abuse and falsely lure unsuspecting viewer, but the stories apparently need rewriting lol. If only to deprive some diseased minds from knowing somebody else watched this drivel, I implore you, the would be viewer, not to. And as respect for literature and plain old honesty in broadcasting are not enough to guide television executive decision making, perhaps shunning this garbage might just bring about some much needed change.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Easily the worst so far

Author: Iain-215 from United Kingdom
5 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On the whole I've been a fan of the new ITV Marple series and have tried to take them on their own merits. The adaptations frequently change quite a lot from the source material and this is the second one to inject Miss Marple into a story where she doesn't belong. I don't really mind that if it works but in 'Sittaford' it doesn't. There are far too many changes here - other reviewers have listed them and I'm not going to repeat them. The problem for me is that changes made to all the other episodes in the series have nevertheless left the impression that the production team have an underlying affection for Christie and her work. Here however there is no affection; the impression left is that the production team actually thought that Sittaford was quite a poor story and needed re-writing. It's hard to see why this episode was made at all. If they thought the story needed so much work done to it then they should have left it alone and adapted one of the other non-series books instead.

As others have said, this piece bears very little resemblance to the book and even taken on its own terms it's quite poor. The writers have not succeeded on improving upon Christie - the original was much simpler and more satisfying. The only performance to really stand out, in my opinion, was Zoe Telford as Emily - as spunky and self confident as she is in the book. There were many other good names in the cast but all rather wasted. On the whole, very disappointing and rather annoying.

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