Advantages Great romping whodunits
Disadvantages May not be everyone's cup of tea
|Did you enjoy it?|
|Characters / Performances|
|Value for Money|
|How does it compare to similar films?||Outstanding|
Yes, all 12 Miss Marple episodes from the original BBC series in a boxed set. This is the series made in the mid-1980s starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, not the recent ITV remakes with Geraldine McKewan (which I thought were pretty rubbish and overacted).~~ who is Miss Marple? ~~
For anyone that doesn't know (!), Miss Marple is a fictional character created by Agatha Christie. An elderly spinster who lives in a small English village, she seems to find herself around a lot of murders. She is generally overlooked by the police as an old 'biddy' but uses her experiences of village life and people to draw comparisons in the crimes and solve the murder.~~ the series ~~
The series was made by the BBC between 1984 and 1992 and was a big hit. Joan Hickson received 2 Bafta nominations and it was sold it to more than 30 countries.The series is set in the 1950s. Not all of the original stories are set in this time so it's not entirely accurate, but I don't think it detracts from them and they work perfectly well set in this era. The setting and costumes are very realistic and it really captures the feel of the '50s. It means the series doesn't feel dated and is still very watchable twenty years on.
The 12 episodes made are included here. Each episode is a complete story in itself from the Agatha Christie novel or short story. The UK box set has 12 DVDs with one episode on each DVD or there's a European version of 6 DVDs with 2 episodes on each one.~~ the episodes ~~
The episodes included in the box set are:'The Body In The Library',
Each story involves a murder in which Miss Marple gets caught up, usually by knowing someone connected to it. The stories are typically set in English villages or nice hotels and involve 'genteel', middle class people called Dolly and Leonard who drink sherry and tea. Every one is an excellent whodunit as you'd expect from Agatha Christie. The programmes are faithful to the original stories so if you like the books, you'll probably like these.As the main character is an elderly lady, the stories aren't driven by action sequences or special effects. Instead there is character development and false trails are cleverly laid down before Miss Marple eventually reveals who really did it. Although they involve murder, they rarely show any violence or blood, and if they do it's not gory, so they're good for all the family to watch (they're rated PG). Less Tarentino, more Antiques Roadshow.
Each episode is roughly between 90 and 120 mins long so about the same as a movie. They're filmed with a good pace that keeps the story moving along.~~ some of the storylines ~~
For example, in the story 'At Bertram's Hotel', Miss Marple is enjoying a visit to London and staying at a posh London hotel, rubbing shoulders with Lords and Ladies. The doorman is shot in an attempt on a guest's life and another guest, an elderly vicar, goes missing. Miss Marple believes they may be connected…In the '4.50 from Paddington', Miss Marple's friend thinks she saw a woman strangled on a passing train but without a body, the police don't believe her. Miss Marple doesn't give up though and her investigations lead her to a weathly family's estate which is hiding a few secrets.
'A Caribbean Mystery' is a bit different as the crew got a nice holiday to Barbados or somewhere like that and it's removed from the usual village life setting. Luckily Miss Marple's still got her knitting though. She doesn't get much of a holiday however as she gets drawn in to solving the murder of a fellow tourist at her resort to prevent the murderer striking again. (Can't take some people anywhere.)'A Murder is Announced' is a very clever story about a murder staged at a village gathering that neatly portrays the workings village life. Cracks soon appear in the villagers 'perfect' lives and the plot turns make it impossible to work out whodunit!
I won't list all of them, these are typical storylines. They're a lot less contrived than I've made them sound here!~~ the titles ~~
Each programme starts with the same titles - very well drawn images of a village with gossiping women standing on street corners and suspicious neighbours peering out of windows. The music is the original from the BBC t.v. series, that genteel kind of flute & harp music. It fits the titles and the programme tone well. They make a good quality start to each episode and set the scene of the Miss Marple stories nicely.~~ Joan Hickson ~~
To me Joan Hickson is the definitive Miss Marple. Margaret Rutherford was funny, Helen Hayes was twee, Geraldine McKewan was…bizarre, but Joan Hickson really captures the spirit of Miss Marple from Agatha Christie's books. She gets the right blend of harmless old lady and intelligent foil. Her performances are effortless and she is utterly convincing.~~ the boxset ~~
The DVD has scene selection but that's all, no extras. A synopsis of each story is given on the relevant leaf of the box.The European version has subtitles but these should be optional depending on your player.
~~ price ~~The RRP for the UK boxset is £99.99 (gulp) but it's available online for around £75-80. Still pretty pricey. I bought the European version on EBay new for £44 (inc P&P) so it's worth shopping around. £2 a DVD is a bargain I reckon.
~~ why are you still reading this? Go watch it! ~~I am an Agatha Christie fan. I've read all the books and I think this series is a great dramatisation of them. The settings are right, the cast is good. Joan Hickson perfectly embodies my idea of Miss Marple and nevers looks like she's acting. The programmes are well made, the scripts are in keeping with the books and they have high production values so they look good. What more could you ask for? On the downside, the film quality has dated slightly so they look a bit grainy compared to today's programmes but for me this wasn't a problem.
These programmes aren't just for fans though, they're great for Sunday afternoon, putting your feet up with a bag of mini jaffa cakes (that's another story) and settling down for a cosy, classic murder-mystery. There's something very comfortable about them and watching them makes me feel like I've stepped back in time.The lack of action probably means they won't keep kids and teenagers amused but invite your Mum or your Aunty over, put the kettle on and enjoy these quintessentially British programmes that will keep you guessing.
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The Miss Marple Collection - Starring Joan Hickson - DVD
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Release Date: 2005-06-20, Rating: Parental Guidance
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