Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime
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Agatha Christie’s charming crime-solvers Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are an ordinary married couple living in 1950s Britain at the start of the Cold War. Sometimes bickering but always sweet on each other, they find themselves knee-deep in danger when they stumble into spy craft and end up being rather good at it. In these sparkling new BBC adaptations of two Christie novels, David Walliams (Little Britain) and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) portray the endearing pair whose quiet lives are upended by a chance encounter on a Paris train. In The Secret Adversary, they search for a missing woman and a recording that could unmask a Soviet hit man. In N or M? they must discover which person at a seaside guesthouse has stolen a nuclear bomb. Each thrilling adventure abounds with humor, international espionage, visual flair, and chic period fashion. Along with James Fleet (Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Tommy’s enigmatic uncle, guest stars include Clarke Peters (The Wire), Alice Krige (Tyrant), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), and Roy Marsden (P.D. James mysteries).
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Everything else is a huge disappointment. The plots of both movies in this set are disasters; they are so implausible it makes one want to grab the TV and shake it real hard. Now granted, the original Tommy and Tuppence novels and stories are not examples of Christie's most ingenious plotting, but the writers for this series have actually managed to make it worse. At almost every turn the characters, whether major or minor, act in ways that are so obviously un- or ill-motivated that even the best-intentioned viewer will find it difficult to engage with the story.
What Christie's T&T novels and stories lacked in plots they made up for in characters. Her Tommy and Tuppence are a lovable if unlikely couple, and readers get to see them at various stages of their lives, from their early twenties or so through middle age to old age. Tuppence is feisty and clever; Tommy is courageous and physical, if need be (he is a WWI veteran). As mentioned above, Tuppence is captured reasonably well in the DVD series, but Tommy is depicted as a timid, clumsy moron who never saw action in the Great War because he managed to get run over by a catering truck. And don't even get me started on Carter, who has been turned into a fussy, senile nincompoop.
A final complaint: David Walliams, who plays Tommy, is so wooden in his acting one wonders whether he's Pinocchio's brother. He basically has one facial expression available that he uses to display a wide range of emotions: incomprehension, indecision and disapproval (not that his character calls for much more than that, see above).
If you enjoyed reading Christie's T&T novels and stories, my recommendation is to stay away from this DVD.
As I mentioned in a comment, it was as if the director was completely stoned and loved to watch water boil, and decided to drag the audience along for the ride. Situations arose filled w/dead air where nothing happened and for a moment one could confuse the characters in the scene w/manikins. And decisions sometimes were agonizingly not appropriate to the situation, leaving this audience confused and shouting at the screen.
The male lead playing Tommy had one, and only one expression to cover the gamut of his character. He was in scenes w/other characters who were playing unsavory chaps who in real life would have seen Tommy for the rube he was, yet somehow they actually thought he was clever! More confusion, more shouting at the screen.
It was truly painful and agonizing to slog through the first story. And I don't recommend you attempt it. If it is available at your library, my advice is to check it out there.
Jessica Raine, who plays Tuppence, was the only bright spot in the effort, and near the end of the first story, even her character was becoming annoyed at Tommy's behavior (which was so nonsensical and cast Tommy as a moronic bumbling statue).