Conflict has surrounds the “contemporized” versions of Agatha Christie’s series following Miss Marple’s escapades; the reason being drastic changes from the book and the BBC’s focus on being PC. Through it all, I stick with the series and relish them all – this 3-episode latest season is both entertaining and eccentric.
Taking in the air in the Caribbean is what the doctor orders and so this is what Miss Jane Marple (Julie McKenzie) does. Indulging in a long stay at a resort, Jane is acquainted with her fellow guests. This includes an elderly Major (Oliver Ford Davis) whose loneliness makes him eager to reminisce about his war days. The resort owner, Molly Kendal (Charity Wakefield), and her husband, Tim (Robert Webb), has not long been the proprietor of the business her parent’s ran. She’s keen to make a good impression on her wealthy clientele, even if that means letting male guests mistake her kindness for flirting.
Among the guests are a free-spirited American couple (Charles Mesure, MyAnna Burning); an unhappily married British couple (Alastair Mackenzie, Hermione Norris), who clearly share more just a supposed friendship; and a suspicious presence in the young artist turned priest. Then there’s the staff. When a young maid (Pippa Bennett-Warner) is found murdered by Molly, suspicion falls on the poor girl. Her guilt looks worse when it begins to look like she’s going crazy, a fate Molly fears considering her family past. But with Miss Marple on the case, there’s a mystery to solve and secrets to bring to light.
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Oddly enough the reactions to all three of these episodes could be very different. I know mine are. Not unusual to my track record of past Marple episodes, the first installment (‘A Caribbean Mystery’) starts off too slowly. By the time things ramp up, it’s too far into the mystery to really give good storytelling (though – hello! – there’s a snazzy reference to the inception of James Bond which I love), this is not so with the second episode. ‘Greenshaw’s Folly’ is one I adore, and though this could stem from my love of its cast, it seems more than that. Then comes the “finale” if you will, ‘Endless Night’; this is probably the oddest episode yet, though I will give it credit, its script is intoxicating! This one pulls you in and makes you doubt your initial assumption weaving back and forth between outcomes while hoping for the best; it’s all the more convincing by its cast who really command their roles very convincingly.
Speaking of those cast members (the guest stars), again there are many familiar faces including from favorite miniseries or current BBC series. Just to name a few, there’s Joanna Vanderham (The Paradise); Kimberly Nixon; Tom Hughes (The Lady Vanishes); Joanna David; Fiona Shaw; Julia Sawalha (love seeing this Pride and Prejudice alum in anything); and of course, Charity Wakefield from the BBC miniseries, Sense and Sensibility. Those who are fans of this “modernized” version of Agatha Christie’s lovable sleuth will find more sensational drama at hand. The atmosphere is fabulous with settings that are beautifully indicative of the era (the 40’s) and costuming that rises to match that.
Fans of BBC mystery or Agatha Christie will find a solid set of installments in this latest Marple series. They’re equal parts fun detective mysteries and terrifying which is what keeps things interesting!
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You can find Marple, series six digitally on Amazon Video or with an Acorn TV add on.
Content: Episode one reveals two extra-marital affairs [as does episode three] and shows an unmarried couple talking in bed together. There is scene of a couple in a state of undress. Multiple people die in the three episodes though the camera rarely shows much graphic; people drown, are stabbed or shot, someone is poisoned, another suffers a fatal fall and another has their neck slit. Someone makes two people think they are physiologically crazy. The show is TV-14.