Good grief! Boy did I steer you all wrong… I posted two entries about the new PBS Agatha Christie season… along with the Ellen Byerrum shows, and YIKES!!! (The “YIKES!!!” should tell you enough if you don’t want to go on reading… But, I am so “hot-under-the-collar” right now, that I HAVE to go on writing…)
As for the Ellen Byerrum movies >>> I didn’t make it through the first half of the first movie, so I really can’t comment… other than to say that. I decided I would much rather be watching old reruns of Murder She Wrote… which is exactly what I did!
On to the longingly-awaited PBS shows:
I was concerned (going in) that I was going to miss Miss Lemon, Inspector Japp, and Capt. Hastings so much that I wasn’t going to enjoy the two Poirot movies. Not the case! Both of the Poirot movies (Mrs. McGinty’s Dead and Cat among the Pigeons) were very good movies… The production values were great, the attention to detail, the characters, the writing… and of course, David Suchet, reminded me of a time when we (SO) looked forward to watching a new Poirot show on A & E. Lots of little grey cells went into the production of these two movies!
On to the Miss Marple movies: That is exactly where my “YIKES” come into play! I have to be upfront on this: We have only watched the first two episodes in the four-part series. But, when did Miss Marple become an astute, in-the-middle-of-the-investigation player? When did she cease to be the doddering, fumbling, (always knitting) old woman who could be in a room without anyone worrying about her overhearing them? When did she start writing notes and telling the police what to do? I realize that she would hint at things and hope that the police would pick up on what she wanted them to do… but in these movies she came off as the central force of the investigations… with the detectives/constables actually relying on her to tell them what to do! She actually conducted the police investigations/questioning!
As Pat pointed out in a comment: Murder is Easy and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? weren’t even Miss Marple mysteries! But, I was not at all prepared for what they did with Murder is Easy… both in adding Miss Marple as the lead investigator and also at the filmmakers decision to include incest/rape into the plot. Why do production companies feel like they have to “jazz things up” by making shows that feature hot taboo plotlines?
After I struggled to make it through the entire Murder is Easy, the first thing I proclaimed to my family was: “I know Agatha Christie did not include the incest/rape into that plot!” Of course, after looking it up online, my daughter found that Agatha Christie didn’t include a lot of things into that mystery’s plot… things that the “hip” filmmakers passed off on the unsuspecting audience as written by Agatha Christie! Shame on them!!! And, since Masterpiece Mystery provides us all with introductions to each of their presentations >>> Why didn’t they tell us that the characters and plot had been WILDLY changed to appeal to a new “hip” audience?!? (Alfred, you are right: The Miss Marple shows have so many characters and scenes that it all becomes a confusing “What the heck?” OR “Who is that?” sequence!)
My daughter looked up the matter of incest in an Agatha Christie mystery and found that in 1995, Rosalind Hicks (Christie’s daughter) had to threaten a law suit against the film company that was making Towards Zero into a film >>> in which they added incest into the plot. The results of Hicks’ disapproval were that they had to change the name of the film, change the names of the characters, and take Agatha Christie’s name off of the entire project. Bravo!!! (As the president of the Agatha Christie Society, Hicks made sure that Agatha Christie’s work would not be… and these are my words… butchered or changed. And, I would like to add more words to that: to meet society’s growing “push-the-envelope” mentality!!!)
Having said all of this, I’m not even sure that the rest of my family will be watching the next two Miss Marple shows. I probably will… although I’m not sure why. I guess that it must be a morbid curiosity… or perhaps I am holding out hope that the filmmakers could not possibly make all four of these episodes into such lackluster events to watch. But, just in case, I will have my Miss Marple DVDs on hand with Joan Hickson… When I’m in the mood for a cozy movie… I know I can get a “quick fix” watching the “real” Miss Marple!
Tori Lennox says
It had been way too long since I’d read Murder is Easy so I didn’t remember the details. I just knew it wasn’t a Miss Marple mystery. But they drove me insane last season when they shoved Miss Marple into the middle of a Tommy & Tuppence mystery. And T&T were very nearly just walk-on characters!
On the other hand, I enjoyed both the Ellen Byerrum movies. I’d never read the books before. So maybe that helped. I have since read one of the books in the series. I liked it a lot, so the movies, though different from the books, did introduce me to a new favorite author.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
I might not have been in the right mood when I started the Byerrum movie… I should have saved it and tried it later on…
As for Murder is Easy… I know that I was in a good mood when I started watching that movie… but I wasN’T in a good mood by the end! I agree that the adding of Miss Marple to a Tommy and Tuppence mystery just doesn’t seem like the way to go. One would think that there are enough Miss Marple mysteries that could be “movie-ized,” rather than changing Christie’s novels to fit into what the filmmakers want to do!
I’ve read both Murder is Easy and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Neither Miss Marple nor Tommy and Tuppence was in either of these books. The amateur detective in Murder is Easy was Luke Fitzwilliam and in Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? it was Bobby Jones. Both novels are very good on their own with the existing characters. I think Agatha Christie can stand on her own without any “help” from TV writers.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis says
I’m so glad it wasn’t just me. I enjoyed the shows so far, but thought I was losing my mind because I couldn’t remember Miss Marple being such a “pushy broad.”
Thanks for the heads-up, Danna! Funnily enough, someone else mentioned on their blog (nothing to do with mystery reading) that the Miss Marple last night was “weird”. I won’t waste my time on it. Instead, I’ll watch the “Pie in the Sky” mystery series on DVD. Laura
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Thanks for telling us about Pie in the Sky. I just looked it up, and it looks really good.
I haven’t watched either of the last two Miss Marple episodes yet… “weird” isn’t an adjective that I would usually think of as describing Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries. I would, however, use “weird” to describe the vision that the filmmakers seem to have had when putting together the Murder Is Easy show.
By the way, on another note… How many people remember younger characters in the Miss Marple mysteries as calling her “Jane?” Apparently the filmmakers did! In Murder is Easy two of the young characters called her “Jane” >>> But, actually that number could be higher… I am NOT going to rewatch that episode just to find out for sure… I am sure, however, about them doing that at least two times.
I was pleasantly surprised with Poirot and also enjoyed Foyle’s War. Miss Marple was disappointing. I was very disappointed to learn this week’s mystery is a a repeat Inspector Lewis. I’m a big fan of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth books. Are you aware of a television series based of these books and is it as good as the books?
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Our PBS station is running a beg-a-thon right now, so we won’t be seeing the Inspector Lewis repeat yet.
As for the Hamish Macbeth television series: Yes, there is a television series based on the books. My husband and I were lucky enough to catch the series when it aired on (I think it was) BBCAmerica, before they changed their schedule to include every reality cooking, cleaning, auctioning show imaginable.
Edie Dykeman says
I did enjoy the recent series on PBS for the stories themselves, but they were definitely not the typical Miss Marple that we all know and love. I, too, wish the writers would stick more with the original stories and not change them until they become almost unrecognizable.
Throwing a favorite character (Miss Marple) into any story and calling it a Miss Marple mystery is nonsense. Also, now that Agatha Christie’s daughter is no longer around, they must think they can add anything to the storyline and no one will object. How sad for Agatha Christie fans.
I also miss all of the mysteries that used to be on A&E. What a great time I had catching up with all my favorites.
This is not Miss Marple or Agatha Christie!
If Rosalind Hicks could stop a movie, why could no one stop this awful series?
Just watched “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans” and I was revolted. I can (sometimes) stand it when they insert Miss Marple into a TV show when she didn’t appear in the book. But this TV version added several characters and changed the method by which one of the main characters was killed, as well as the reasons for the murderer to kill. I wonder if the fact that Agatha Christie Ltd. is now owned by Chorion (whatever that is) allows them and WGBH to take such awful liberties. Maybe Agatha Christie’s family doesn’t have any control over what’s produced with her name on it any more. Similar horrors happened with “The Sittaford Mystery” (where they changed the murderer!) and “There is a Tide.”
First I can’t seem to find any of the mysteries that were on A & E, and The Mystery Hour that used to be on Channel PBS……….
Oh dear I do wish the writers would let things be. I reckon I will go back to the books….. Who would have ever thought they would have some of these incest/rape added to Agatha Christies movies?
I like the idea of Miss Marple who would knit and listen, or give information to the police, and they would sort of try to get rid of her (she knows) and smiles and went on doing her things…….I love her……….I have read her books for many years………..
Also I have been reading MARY ROBERTS RINEHART books. I get the older ones and have been reading the Miss Pinker (the nurse who works for the police). I think she wrote three of them. Found one of her’s called “THE CLOCK THAT WOULDN’T STOP” If I get it, will probably be Amazon on their used books.
Another oldie mystery writer and found by accident a few years ago: name is Elizabeth Ferrars……which I found at the library, was a delight, now looking for these oldie mystery writers I either go to Amazon or Alibri. Elizabeth Ferrars’ are English and full of mystery, suspense and lots of mazes where you try to figure who did it. grin.
Danna; oops! I goofed as the book I read by the author
MARY ROBERTS RINEHART the nurses name was Miss Pinkerton, who worked for the police. sorry.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Thanks for reminding us about Mary Roberts Rinehart. I believe I read some of her mysteries years ago, when I visited my grandmother in Northwood, Iowa. Her local library catered to the library’s clientele, and they kept a lot of “classic mysteries” in the book shelves. I haven’t yet read any of E. X. Ferrars mysteries – Thanks for telling us about her.