28 July 2016 | grantss
Watchable, despite the blandness of the lead character
A series of adaptations of Agatha Christie novels, with Miss Jane Marple as the central character. A seemingly innocuous elderly woman with no background in criminal investigation, she has a knack for solving crimes, particularly murder.
Not in the same league as Agatha Christie's Poirot (the series starring David Suchet), but generally quite watchable. Miss Marple herself is quite bland, and certainly does not have enough colour or presence to carry an entire episode, let alone a series of 23 episodes. This is regardless of whether we are talking about the first 12 episodes, when Geraldine McEwan played Marple, or the final 11 episodes, when she was played by Julia McKenzie. McKenzie was the better of the two, having more gravitas and presence than McEwan, but neither inject much colour or engagement into proceedings.
To compensate for Marple's dullness, the main secondary characters are given depth, and are often made the focus of the episode. This includes some potentially interesting sub-plots and backstories. Marple is a fringe character for much of the episode and then swoops in towards the end to solve the crime. This strategy is not always employed, unfortunately, and, when it is, is not always done well, depending largely on the writing for the episode and the quality of the performances.
The mysteries themselves are generally quite intriguing. In some ways, this is where the Marple series is better than Poirot. Poirot mysteries were often highly complex, to the point of implausibility, with far-fetched back stories. Marple mysteries are more relatable and plausible.