First of all most of the characters are boring the viewer to death. Further: after 30 minutes i knew who the murderer was, not because of any logical deduction, but because the character obviously wasn't entirely sane and nobody adressed this. Then falling almost asleep i fast-forwarded to the end, to discover i was right and the motives for 3 murders we're unrealistic and random. People where murdered because the madman just didn't like them very much due to minor unsocial behavior. What a non-sense episode.
Playing a sudoko brings more joy.
But who really loved the book? To be honest i think the book is a mediocre Christie at its best. Way to many characters that aren't connected to the murder, way to many loose ends and though the idea of a hunt for the truth is a great idea, it's not very excitedly portrayed in the book. And the motive is not really believable, not unless you consider the love for Verity by the murderer a lesbian love. Not saying it's a bad motive either, but it's wobbly. Also consider the lack of clues: there are very few which lead to the discovery of the murderer.
This adaptation makes all a lot of those wrongs right: all characters are connected to the main story line and the road trip is really exciting and the murders get a lot more clues (like the scarecrow, brilliant). So for viewers who do not know the book: it's a fun and exciting ride with a lot of puzzling and great story lines, and thanks to the added clues the audience can actively participate in solving the mystery.
On the downside: some of those new story lines are a bit far fetched, i agree with some of the reviewers. And the motive for the murders itself is still not stronger then the book.
But the episode is a lot more exciting and congruent then the book. For that this adaptation deserves kudos!
But finally: it is done. And how! Even better then in the book it is their guilt that haunts the characters on Soldiers Island. The island and it's house is filmed beautifully: staring as a mysterious island, becoming more dark and haunted as the plot evolves and from time to time the atmosphere is also like a cleansing breeze at a resort. Add to this great cinematic experience a formidable and definitely well casted cast and you have the new classic adaptation of 'Then there were none'.
I can't think of any actor that didn't deliver an intriguing and believable character. Who'd taught that Emily Brent could be vicious and pitiful at the same time? Miranda Richardson ensures the viewer of that. Charles Dance is perfect as judge Wargrave: sympathetic and righteous at the same time. Philip Lombard and Maeve Dermody make a 'romance' in these bitter circumstances more then believable and Dermody does what is one of the most hardest aspects of 'And then there we're none': she makes suicide totally believable. And what a pity that Anna Maxwell Martin has to die so soon. She is epic as Ethel Rogers. Sam Neill delivers, Noah Taylor does. Douglas Booth makes the first murder even a well deserved one. And last but not least: Stephens and Gorman make the paranoia complete until the very last second. They all make their character's dubious past more than believable.
And of course a lot of credits should go to Sarah Phelps. Wow, what a script! Cudoos! She took every element of the story and there where Christie might lack in giving her characters a credible motivation, Sarah brushed it up with just the right amount of alteration, to make the story believable from a psychological point of view. Especially through the background stories of the characters Sarah makes Christie's masterpiece not only a murderous who-dunnit, but a psychological thriller.
I think a classic movie is made.
And this episode is definitely the best of the season and well worth a 10. With many thanks to Zoe Wannamaker who is doing a great job as Mrs. Blacklock. The story is translated very well to the screen. Wonderfully filmed. The episode is brought to live with lovely and rich characters, well played by a great cast: Cherie Lunghi, Robert Puch and a notable performance by comedienne Catherine Tate.
SPOILERS I do think the mystery has to many classic Christie elements in it: if you've had your share of her murder mysteries you can see through certain red herrings. For instance: when a character is victimized, but not killed he or she is almost always the killer. But since that element is in the book itself, i still think this version is worth a 10 out of 10.
The motives, the relations, the background stories and even the murder method are all altered in unrecognizable ways. It's a shame that the producers dare to enter this episode as an adaptation.
And not for the better: it's a hot mess. It's now filled with unnecessary red herrings and unbelievable motives. Great actors like Tim Curry, Mark Gatiss, John Hannah and Elizabeth McGovern are doing a splendid job, but are still tripping over ill-written dialogs. And then i don't even mention Cheryl Campbell's unwatchable struggle to play Lady Boyton. Dear heaven.
Conclusion: the script-writer and producers we're too cocky thinking they could improve the story. Complete fail. This is not 'An Appointment With Death' anymore.
Please let's do a remake of this episode!
To me, that is just bad storytelling. I haven't read the book, so it might be flawed in the story there too. But it sure is a big disappointment at the end.
But: Taken at the flood isn't such a great story. Especially the suicide of the major misses a believable motivation, but the whole is a bit chaotic. And in the original to much leans on the idea that a brother would not kill his sister, unless she's not his sister. A bit thin, if you ask me.
Changing the plot and especially Hunter's past and character, makes the whole episode worth your wile. But also the upgrade of the other suspect's makes it fun. This episode reminds me of the early episodes of Midsomer Murders, where the suspects are all quirky, extravagant and a bit ludicrous. A great cast delivers intriguing and amusing performances.
Though 'Taken at the flood' may not longer be a reference to Shakespeare's 'Julias Caesar', the adaptation surely makes a great modern Richard the Third. So while the original story would get a 5 out of 10, this adaptation, minus the flaws of the original, was worth my while. Hope it will be for others too. 10 out of 10 for me.
That having said 'Mrs McGinty's Dead' is a very good story of Agatha Christie. So the episode will be very enjoyable, and the unraveling of the plot by Poirot in the same room with all the suspects is definitely a highlight.
But then: the adaptation itself. The script is not bad, the direction isn't either, but somehow it doesn't quite work together to tell this complex story. Instead of taking time to tell the story well, things are rushed and it shows. Especially in the narrative.
More then once a scene starts halfway through and we learn in retrospect what must have given rise to it. For example Poirot visits a few ladies in the village and we learn in those scenes why: they we're all employers of Mrs McGinty. Or he visits the post office and we suddenly find a character crying.
Or vital information is not showed but told by characters. We learn that the sugar hammer is the murder weapon because the inspector tell us suddenly, so we have to assume it was brought to a lab and investigated, but there was never even a hint of that particular story detail.
I know we are used to a fast narrative style, we don't need to see every detail to understand how a storyline goes, but even CSI takes a few more steps then this episode of Poirot.
It all feels rushed. If they had taken five more minutes, the adaptation would have been superb.
So that must mean that someone somewhere in the production team wanted to speed up things: either the writer, the director of the editor. Well, it doesn't pay off: it makes the whole a bit chaotic and more difficult then necessary to follow.
And of course the 'dream glow' effect makes the whole movie cheap and blurry. Or did I mention that already?
Nevertheless: worth watching.
But then I saw this adaptation: and the whole story came to life thanks to brilliant acting of almost the complete cast (a pity the American Lucy Crale doesn't quite land it for me, but then again: it seems in all episodes American actors fall short next to the English ones). Then there is a wonderful and compelling atmosphere. Beautifully filmed. And bold and daring choices we're made in writing the screenplay. Five Little Pigs is absolutely more suited for a film then for a book, I'd say.
I saw some other (re)viewers nag a little about minor plot changes: the biggest one - Phillip Blake's confession of his love for Amyas, is actually very close to the book. When I read his testimonial in the book i already thought: my, he must be in love with Amyas. I think in Christie's time it was not done to speak of homosexuality out loud, but I'm quite convinced in her mind she was writing Blake's character with those exact feelings.
I think, so far, Five Little Pigs is one of this series best. And definitely: 'Better Then The Book!'
Though loosely based on a short Christie story this episode is all in Christie's spirit. Adding the feminism storyline might make it less of an Christie, because she was an old fashioned kind of girl regarding gender roles, but Poirot rooting for equality makes him one of the heroes of this story.
The ending might come as a big surprise. But i think that is because this episode was a very clever one and the viewer needs to be very focused to get hold of all the clues. Finding the murderer means a lot of puzzling by understanding all the relationships between the characters. Little clues like breadcrumbs are lying on the path to salvation. I'd like to say this episode requires the fast paced puzzling one has to do in the new BBC Sherlock (Cumberland) episode.
To me it was very satisfying i had to really work hard and put all the little fragments together. Very strong is the fact that all the red herrings are actually part of the mystery (kudoos!) and are àlso part of the theme: feminism. To me that is very good writing!
But the choices what and how to film this story reveal way to early (after 20 minutes!) who must be the murderer or part of the murderous team.
SPOILER: The mystery relies for a great deal on disguises and impersonations. So if one character impersonates another you have to be careful how and what you film. And therein this adaptation falls short due to three more or less unfortunate choices:
1. The length of filming the characters: In this episode both versions of the same character (the real character and the one impersonating) are shown for a quite extensive amount of time. That means our skills to recognize differences between faces is alarmed way to soon.
2. The acting of the impersonating actor is rather over the top: you immediately notice less authentic behavior in comparison of the actor playing real character
3. Everyone who knows Agatha Christie by heart knows that the Queen of Crime loves impersonations as part of many murder plots. So if you want to hide an impersonation from the viewer, you need to hide it very good. In this film all the other characters are quite plain. So the impersonation is the only outspoken character with very distinctive traits compared tot the other characters. That rings an immediate alarm bell. And SECOND SPOILER: when another character with distinctive physical traits appears -who only seems to serve a very small part in the story- one immediately wonders: is that the same impersonator? Which of course, proves to be the case. Better is would have been, to make the other characters more over the top as well. If you want to hide a black sheep, don't hide it in a white flock, but a black one.
Impersonations are tricky to film. I'll give you that, but then you need to choose what to film and how to film it very carefully. Otherwise the plot is quite given away from the beginning. Nevertheless a good episode. Made with care. Still a lot to puzzle after you discover the impersonation. And also an episodes that shows how difficult it is to film a plot with impersonations.
Especially strong in the compact yet fun story lines of the quirky characters with a nice balance between laughter and morality. And keeping us viewers on our toes: every season has a mystery plot with surprising twists and unexpected drama.
Should have at least an 8.0 in the ratings. If it we're only for hilarious performances of Rebecca Wisocky as the devious Evelyn Powell.
You might hope for an ingenious plot, but it just isn't there. At the end the killer is just the killer, without ANY motive, storyline or explanation. The murders have got no logical patterns: from a carefully planned murder, which provides the killer with a perfect alibi to a psychopatical double murder where two guests are drained of all there blood and then are placed as smiling dead statues. The butler, who obviously works together with the murderer, appears to have a contract with the murderer, but again there's no explanation WHY.
Never treat your viewers as a dumb audience. Online you'll find forums, video's and more of viewers who really puzzled to unravel the mystery. There where some clever theories out there. But it was all in vain.
Didn't anyone at the production team watch CSI or read an Agatha Christi? Obviously NOT.
I will be shocked if this show isn't canceled. But: if there are really enough viewers for a second season: please hire me as an consultant for the next season. This show can be so much more thrilling, smart and exciting than it is now.
And thats actually what seems to be the problem in season two. Everybody still remembers their fairytale identity, which makes the whole dramatic engine startle. Now there is no actual driver for the second season anymore. It looks like the writers are out of inspiration. All the Storybrooke characters suddenly act on their fairytale identity which comes to an utterly ludicrous storyline where the dwarfs find fairy dust in our real world. Come on! We don't buy that! Snow and Swan are trapped in the fairytale world with their normal world clothes, it all looks messy and badly motivated or explained to the viewers.
Of course there are some good things. New characters arrive like captain Hook as Rumpelstilkins adversary and Regina's mother gets a much bigger role, which makes Regina's less evil and more layered as an human being. But also new characters are introduced who fall completely flat in their acting skills and don't have any interesting storyline except helping Swan and Snow: Mulan and Sleeping Beauty. Boring.
And, the old characters get poorly written new story lines: Red suddenly gains a mother and looses one in one episode, and it all happens so fast, that you can't really care for Red. Or doctor Whale, whom we still haven't figured out, suddenly appears to be DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN (do we consider Dr Frankenstein as a fairytale now?), without doing anything with the suspension 'Who is Dr Whale, it must be a BIG SECRET since his identity wasn't revealed in season 1', they reveal him in 1 episode (well okay, they do build up to the revealing of his identity during the episode, but halfway through you already can make an easy educated guess why he needs a hart). And he is NOT from Storybrooke but from another world.
My god, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WRITERS? I'm guessing the guys from marketing research told the producers that the biggest audience group of Once Upon a Time are between the ages of 4 and 10?
So, where i would give absolutely 9 stars for season 1 i'm now on a low 3, so an average of 6. Please let season 2 blossom and glow again!
My biggest problem of the show seems unattended in reviews: it's the likability or believability of some of the actors/characters.
For instance: Olivia Dunham always seems to struggle with scenes where acting skills really come into place: her alter ego in the other world is not really authentic and in more emotional scenes she definitely struggles how to deliver that believable. Good for her is that Olivia is likable. Something that can not be said of the new Lincoln character and before him Charlie Francis. There just flat characters and both aren't really believable. Not in their acting and not in their storyline.
Also some of the characters are likable but just don't have any storyline other then doing their job. Astrid for example is very likable but there is just no storyline for her to play, that gives more depth to her character. That's a pity.
And for our Dawsons Creek Joshua Jackson (Peter Bishop in the series), he definitely is likable, but he also struggles with the more emotional scenes. It kinda makes you wonder if it is a problem with the actors, or maybe it's a problem in the series direction and writing. Are they being directed to underplay the emotions to get the effect of a detached, cold world? It sometimes looks that way.
But then again Walter Bisshop (John Noble) is acting brilliantly. He is definitely not underplaying. He makes the series so much fun and gives it its heart. So, that keeps me wondering where the problem lies exactly.
I think the producers of Fringe are good in making action and sf. And a big plus: special effects really rock in this series. But the team doesn't seem to have an eye for the value of good acting. And a think adding an acting-expert -weather in the form of a director or writer or both- would make Fringe top of the bill.
Just needed to be said. Other then that: fringe is still a 7 out of ten. But i bet it could be a 9.
And that's why it is so great! Not only a lot of vulgar bitchfights exceed the classy catfightscenes between Alexis Colby and Kristel Carrington in Dynasty in many ways, but there is so much more: betrayal, jealousy, addiction, cunning plastic surgery (!), adultery, abuse and suicide. And it's all real!
Well, at least to some extend. Not only do you hate the grotesque characters, you are also going to love theme and care. Fascinating how people perform in front of a camera.
If there was an adjective of the noun dramaqueen, it would be the first adjective to describe this series. Of all the spin-offs, to me 'Beverly Hills' is top of the bill. Hear, hear! :)