During a village's Hallowe'en party, a young girl boasts of having witnessed a murder from years before. No one believes her tale until her body is found later on in the evening, drowned in the apple-bobbing bucket.
With his rumpled raincoat, ever-present cigar, bumbling demeanour and Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction, disarmingly polite homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo took on some of the most cunning murderers in Los Angeles, most of whom made one fatal, irrevocable mistake: underestimating his investigative genius.
An infamous 'psychic' abandons his public persona, outing himself as a fake, to focus on his work as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation in order to find "Red John," the madman who killed his wife and daughter.
The show follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.
S. Epatha Merkerson,
Jesse L. Martin
When Ariadne Oliver and her friend, Judith Butler, attend a children's Halloween party in the village of Woodleigh Common, a young girl named Joyce Reynolds boasts of having witnessed a murder from years before. Joyce's story is heard by all the party, including her strange brother Leopold, the impeccable hostess Rowena Drake, her bookish son Edmund, and the local Reverend Cottrell. Mrs Whittaker, the church organist, and Frances Drake, Rowena's feisty daughter, are dismissive of her story, but later that evening Joyce's lifeless body is discovered face-down in the apple-bobbing bucket. At Mrs Oliver's behest, Poirot travels down to Woodleigh Common to investigate the murder. Although the local police and Joyce's stepmother dismiss the dead girl's claim, Poirot takes Joyce's story seriously. Mrs Goodbody, a gossiping charwoman, tells Poirot there have been a number of suspicious deaths in the village in recent years which Joyce could indeed have witnessed, and that old curses still ... Written by
Despite the rather pathetic screenplay in this TV version, Agatha Christie's original story is so riveting that even Mark Gatiss was unable to ruin it. Nevertheless, when one thinks of the potential that is latent in such a brilliant cast and such a powerful and perfectly structured drama, it is a crying shame that the scriptwriter failed to honour the memory of the book's author. I was particularly disappointed by the jarring inclusion of a cameo homosexual relationship into the plot ; it was so obviously NOT a part of the dramatic build-up of the story that one almost had the impression of the screenwriter taking us aside and whispering, "Just look how noble and virtuous and persecuted these people are," rather like a TV commercial, and with just about as much relevance to the mystery.
I would recommend the film despite the criticism : it remains in essence a typically wonderful Christie whodunnit ; the acting is superb and the direction also excellent. But I'll be the first customer for the next version of this great book ; a film classic this one certainly ain't.
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