Based on Crooked House, a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie first published in the US by Dodd and Mead Company in March 1949, and published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 23 May of the same year.
Away from the public eye, forensic dentists, pathologists, scientists, computer experts, polygraph examiners and handwriting examiners work meticulously to provide the missing pieces to mind-boggling crime cases.
Set in the leafy suburbs of 1950s London, the Beresfords find themselves in need of some adventure in their lives. With Tommy undertaking a variety of business opportunities, and Tuppence trying to dissuade him, the couple find themselves in the wrong place at the right time to solve a mystery - or two - and perhaps save someone's life. They are about to enter a world of espionage and skulduggery guided by Tommy's mysterious Uncle, Major Carter. It is a world which will prove easier to enter than to leave.
The tag line to this series – rather than "Sometimes a marriage needs an adventure" – should more rightly be "Sometimes a VIEWER needs an adventure" . . .
As this turgid new series is, simply, uninspired & uninspiring.
There is NO chemistry between the 2 leads. I think it was a case of miscasting, not just of the 2 actors individually, but as a pair. David Walliams seems lethargic almost to the point of depression. And as for Jessica Raine: I had never seen the actress before, but she plays the role like she is in a safe, pleasant, 'feel-good' little evening drama like 'The Royal' or 'Heartbeat'; concentrating upon her character being all cutesy twee 1950s prettiness rather than a real person. I gather Raine was in the 'Call The Midwife' before this; well, that explains her flat interpretation of what should be a winning Agatha Christie character.
Oh where, oh where!, are Francesca Annis & James Warwick – the leads from the last TV adaptation, in the 1980s – when we need them?! That series had it all: charisma, believable baddies, zipping plots, credible flirtation, effervescent fun, lovely 1920s period moments, and STYLE. It was only a few months ago that I was voicing to a friend that the tales were ripe for a new interpretation; especially as the canon of Christie's Poirot & Marple stories have just been completed, leaving a void on our TVs. So when I heard of this new series only a few weeks ago via a TV trailer, I waited, hopeful for entertainment . . . but it never emerged.
There is no wit, no sparkle. The stories are disjointed, with gaping holes in the plot. Parts of the episodes quite literally make no sense at all.
The camera persistently floats over the faces of the 2 chief characters as if we ADORE just watching them in their lovely little lives. No, we don't; Agatha Christie stories are fine mysteries, with great plots, and that's what we need to see. But we never do.
The series comes across as just an excuse to languish in retro enjoyment of the 1950s. Instead of being what it should: the telling of a great tale, with a clever plot & the full-bodied characters with which Christie stories are loaded. I made myself watch all 3 parts of the first episode, before I passed judgement (wink!) in writing, in order to be able to fairly critique a complete story. But, sadly, the 2nd & 3rd parts were no improvement upon the 1st. I even made myself start watching episode 2 . . . after which I knew for sure I'd have had more entertainment spending that hour rewatching a well-loved (however well-known) episode of 'Poirot'.
The story is slow-moving to the point of dullsville. There is NO passion between Walliams & Raine; the one scene where they appear in bed, even just cosying up in a demure manner, looks completely unbelievable. And when at one point in a taxi "Tommy" tries to get a bit saucy & suggestive with his "Tuppence", it's about as believable as a librarian suddenly doing a strip dance in the middle of the non-fiction section. And I really was willing this series to be good, as I know TV can adapt Christie so effectively. So the word let-down does not suffice.
The script has great lengths that are unnecessary. Things aren't explained that should be; other things best left out are laboured upon. Overall the story is so badly put together that it often fails to tell a cohesive tale at all.
As for the characterisation: Bah! I have seen more believable 'baddies' written into an Enid Blyton 'Famous Five' novel.
And WHY did they reset this series in the 1950s?! Yes, the "Beresfords" are the only Christie characters she let age throughout her stories, so although the first "T&T" story was written & set in the 1920s they did go grey with the times, right up to the last story of the 1970s. But as the '50s have been well documented on TV in both sets of Christie's 'Marple' adaptations, why not use the opportunity to portray the young "T&T" in their 1920s' heyday? The previous TV version of "Partners In Crime" saw fit to set it in that decade, and did a sterling job in their adaptation. So why the 1950s on TV, yet again?! Surely a case by the production department of being too safe . . . but unwisely so!
Excitement? None. Gripping stories? Nil. Likable leads? No way. Great characters? Nope. And just good drama? WHAT drama?!
Admittedly, I haven't read any of Christie's "T&T" stories, so can't speak of this series as an adaptation of the original format. But in comparison to any TV depictions of Christie – including the 1980s' 'The Agatha Christie Hour' – this series is completely unwatchable.
In all honesty I blame the production team, rather than the actors. Good actors, such as Roy Marsden and Alice Krige, have guest roles in this series. But, without exception, NONE of the actor's depictions seem to work. Even reliable James Fleet can't spin out his regular character in any believable way. Over-lingering camera-work on these secondary actors doesn't help with this, just as it didn't with the lead actors Walliams & Raine. In my (humble!) opinion what this means is that the result we see on-screen is not the fault of the actors as much as the people behind the scenes, who put the production together.
Sadly a case of too much humdrum saccharine pleasantness, more suited to a safe 8pm timeslot than a prime time programme. We need sparkling – not flat – entertainment.
Advice: get out a DVD of any other Agatha Christie series, or the 3 'big' film adaptations of the 1970s & 1980s, and your time will have been more enjoyably spent.
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