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British detective series--film and TV. Colonials welcome as well.

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Initial post: Mar 18, 2013 9:37:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 9:39:11 AM PDT
Since we have spent so many megabytes on this topic, we might as well have a dedicated thread. One request only--stick to the topic, please.

A starter--what do you think the best Christie adaptations are?

Tea is laid out on the sideboard. I'll pour. China or India? Milk or lemon? Sugar? The seed cake recipe comes from Bertram's. It's rather like Mrs. Beeton's. I got the china--Doulton with hand-painted periwinkles--from the same source as Hyacinth.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 10:09:55 AM PDT
I love Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple and Peter Ustinov as Poirot.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 10:11:46 AM PDT
Hikari says:
I am such a neophyte on this starter topic, I will keep quiet for now, but may I have some refreshments anyway? I'll have India with milk, please.

A small digression (in the spirit of the thread, though)--you asked earlier, but I didn't say, re. Midsomer, I have finished Jason Hughes' freshman season. Seems I have caught up with him just in time for him to leave. Story of my life.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 10:44:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 11:02:47 AM PDT
Oh, all detective series topics are game, Hikari. No problem.

Try the seed cake. And have a crumpet.

If memory serves, I'm just at the end of Season 10 of Midsommer--one to go. They Seek Him Here--the penultimate episode--is good fun, with several murders via guillotine. Did you see my earlier comments on Picture of Innocence?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 10:59:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 11:03:50 AM PDT
Rutherford bears absolutely no resemblance to the Marple of the books. But it almost doesn't matter, since the four films with her are all so much fun. Rutherford's most definitive roles on screen, I think, were Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit.

As I noted elsewhere, I was rather surprised to discover that Ustinov had made six Poirot films--making him the second more prolific interpreter of the character. There are in general somewhat glossed-up versions of the Christie originals, but none the less enjoyable for all that. He really doesn't look like Poirot (unlike David Suchet), but he is such fun.

All those interpretations miss the more serious side of Christie's work, which I think is well served in the Suchet Poirots and and the Hickson Marples. As I was thinking about this topic, it struck me that the film and TV revival of Christie's work can be dated to one film--Finney's take on Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Finney's Poirot is spot on--if almost a bit too fussy. The earliest Christie adaptation cited in IMDB is 1928. Between 1928 and 1974, there are about 50 citations; after 1974, 88, which understates the matter somewhat since series are often listed with a single credit and for some reason most of the Suchet Poirot series does not show up under Christie.

Rene Clair's adaptation of Ten Little Indians is quite good.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 11:42:29 AM PDT
Hikari says:
What are your thoughts on Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple, relative to MM's other purveyors? I have seen the McKenzie version of "Murder is Easy", featuring two future cast members of BBC Sherlock. It was a nice lightweight entertainment, and Benedict Cumberbatch certainly looked fetching on a motorcycle at one point . . .but I'd much rather have an episode of Foyle's War instead. I wonder if I will bond with Miss Marple more when I get to be her age?

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 12:00:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 12:09:53 PM PDT
Highly recommend

My all time favourite British character actress

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 12:16:23 PM PDT
Detective, check the photo

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 12:21:00 PM PDT
The wonderful Peter Ustinov also portrayed Charlie Chan.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 12:58:55 PM PDT
H: I have seen some of the McKenzie Marples. as well as the McEwans. The trouble is, the ITV series takes excessive liberties with the original stories. I will take a look at Murder is Easy--I'm on a bit of a Christie kick right now--but for my money the Joan Hickson is, to date, the definitive Marple.

Frankly, quite apart from personal age, I always quite liked Miss Marple. She bear more than a passing resemblance to the other divine Jane--Jane Austen. Life seen through the microcosm of a small village; gentility concealing the sharpest reasoning and an unsparing appreciation of human frailty. In a quiet way, quite a stern moralist.

One Marple that has been done several times is The Mirror Crack'd--one with Hickson, one with McKenzie, and one directed by Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Evil Under The Sun, among others). The last in particular is great fun--Angela Lansbury as Marple and Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak as the feuding actresses.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 12:59:48 PM PDT
The Ustinov Chan, unfortunately, was a very silly film indeed.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 1:13:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 3:16:05 PM PDT
Another issue with Christie on film--touched only lightly so far--is fidelity to the original text. I've been reading Christie almost as long as I can remember, and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that I have read virtually all of them. I am certain that there are a few titles I haven't read--I know that I've never delved into her romance novels under the name Mary Westmacott, in particular--but there are not many. On my (well-alphabetized) bookshelves I have at least 50 Christies. She was a master at plot construction and characterization--admittedly often in broad strokes (not in general the most subtle of writers) and in my view the best adaptations respect those skills.

She survives well even when made a little glossier--Evil Under The Sun is a good example (I'm planning to watch the Suchet version tonight, which is closer to the original than the Hamilton--but any adapter should stick closely to the original. Even the well-written Suchet series gets into trouble when it shifts settings, as it does in Hickory Dickory Dock (from the 1950s to the 1930s.) One must never forget that she was a good playwright as well. The Mousetrap has been running in London continuously since 1952, and recently marked it 25,000th performance. It has become as integral a part of London as the Tower.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 1:16:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 1:19:54 PM PDT
Hikari says:
May I insert a word of praise for Kyra Sedgwick & the cast of "The Closer"? I just finished watching the seventh and final season over the weekend and still feel a bit emotional about it. I have collected all seven seasons of this show on DVD. Very few, if any, other long-running shows have not only stayed so consistently excellent over seven seasons, but have actually gone out on top in the ratings, scoring higher for its last few seasons than its first few. "The Closer" was a 'word-of-mouth' show that just kept getting better and stronger over time. Anchored by a stellar performance by Sedgwick in the lead, this is the most loveable capable-yet-dysfunctional 'work family' you could ever meet. The Christmas episodes (traditional every year for a reunion with Brenda Leigh's Atlanta-based parents, Clay & Willie Ray Johnson) tended to get a little twee, but otherwise I have nothing but praise for this show, which has outshone all of its competitors in the genre for the length of its run.

As good as Kyra is, and she's excellent, the show is a true ensemble, with each character equally memorable and adept at his/her roles. Some of the very funniest, most memorable moments don't even feature Chief Johnson in the frame as various members of her squad do their inimitable thing. When the 'close' of the Closer was on the horizon, the producers did a very smart thing--they introduced another strong female character in the person of Internal Affairs officer Capt. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell), to alternately be a thorn in Brenda's side and also her staunchest ally in departmental politics. Captain Raydor was first presented as the 'anti-Brenda', but in actuality, the two women have primary strengths in common, chiefly their absolute fearlessness in navigating in a male-dominated world of law enforcement, and an equally strong tendency to believe that they are always right. This made for a natural segue into the spin-off series, "Major Crimes", with Captain Raydor at the helm (though presumably she has been promoted to Commander or even Deputy Chief.) I have high hopes for the new show, which seems poised to do very well, given the ensemble strengths of the remaining cast, and the addition of McDonnell, who is every bit Brenda's equal, only with darker hair and a more sedate wardrobe.

The Closer was TNT's first venture into original programming, and it can be argued, set the bar extremely high for similarly themed shows that would follow on other networks, such as "Dexter".

The finale was well-done . .a bit anti-climactic, in the manner of most series finales, but the final frames were one perfect goodbye to Chief Johnson by her squad. To Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons, Robert Gossett, Corey Reynolds, G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Paul Michael Chan, Raymond Cruz, Phillip Keene, Mary McDonnell, Jon Tenney & all the great guest stars over the years, I say "Thank yew, Thank yew so much!"

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 1:21:09 PM PDT
H: I need to catch up on the last season of The Closer--but I would agree that it was a fine series indeed, and a wonderful exercise in ensemble casting. The backstory didn't in general get in the way of the cases, and it was generally fun to watch. And I quite like the chief's relationship with her parents.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 1:37:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 1:38:49 PM PDT
Hikari says:
Watching the final season made me want to start it all over again. In the final episode, Chief Johnson arrives at the crime scene, and they have recreated her arrival at the first crime scene with her new squad, down to the white raincoat. If you've seen Season 6, you have seen the reappearance of the 'red dress' that was prominently featured in one of the very first episodes as well. Chief Johnson wore it to her interview for Chief of Police.

Watching Kyra out of character is a very unsettling experience. She doesn't sound like Brenda at all. Her real voice is rather deep. If the blooper reels are anything to go by, it was a very fun set to work on.

P.S. Zero of One is evidently not a Closer fan. I really wish I could shake this miasma, but it insists on following me everywhere I go.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 1:45:48 PM PDT
To me the greatest Detective/Ensemble show is Homicide:Life On The Street. What a cast over the years-Andre Braugher, Yaphet Koto, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Reed Diamond etc. Great stories and performances.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 1:51:49 PM PDT
Kelly says:
Can I nominate Elementary this week as having the cheesiest looking subway EVER? First impression was "the train is coming from the wrong direction"

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:15:27 PM PDT
Stephen: Taste differ. That one never did a thing for me. Neither did Hill Street Blues.

The US series that managed perhaps the best balance between well-crafted stories and a kind of "you are there" verisimilitude was Law and Order--and Law and Order:SVU. (I never could get into Criminal Intent.)

I'm a huge fan of the forensic procedurals. CSI is still the gold standard.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:28:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 3:41:48 PM PDT
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Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:40:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 3:41:46 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2013 3:41:13 PM PDT
Hikari says:
Timothy A. Clyne,

Please stop it. Not this thread, too. The choice is yours. Be smart--quit now.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:42:54 PM PDT
H: Unfortunately, it has been clear for some time that this person is not right.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:43:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 3:50:28 PM PDT
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Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:47:56 PM PDT
And yet more evidence. This is not a rational reaction.

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 3:49:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2013 4:34:42 PM PDT
It's a movie quote, oh lord of cinema.

May God help us all if your standards for what is evidence and your relevant deduction from such ever become the norm.
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  88
Total posts:  8795
Initial post:  Mar 18, 2013
Latest post:  2 hours ago

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