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DVD Review: Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries

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This week sees Acorn Media’s release of Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries. Originally aired on television in 1983 the series was based on Agatha Christie’s “other detectives” – 1920s-era Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. The DVD set includes all 11 mysteries from the series on three discs, with a approximate total running time of over 620 minutes.

The first mystery on the DVD is The Secret Adversary, a feature-length film which introduces sleuths and adventurers Tommy (James Warwick, Lillie, Bergerac) and Prudence ‘Tuppence’ Cowley (Francesca Annis, Lillie, Cranford). The always stylish and clever Tuppence and the ready-for-anything Tommy team up to solve a series of mysteries, all of which keep leading them inevitably to a formidable adversary – the mysterious Mr. Brown. As Tommy and Tuppence grow closer, Tuppence also considers a marriage proposal from their friend Julius (Gavan O’Herlihy). Also appearing are Honor Blackman, George Baker, and Reece Dinsdale as Albert.

The Secret Adversary introduced Tommy and Tuppence to 1980s television audiences and was quickly followed by the Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime series. In Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime, Tommy and Tuppence are now married, and together run the Blunt Detective Agency. The fun-loving duo solve a variety of cases, sometimes adopting the mannerisms of other well-known detectives, such as Sherlock Holmes. The episodes, which all run around 50 minutes in length, include:

“The Affair of the Pink Pearl” – A bored Tommy and Tuppence take on the first case for the Blunt Detective Agency when they try to find a stolen pearl. Graham Crowden and Charles Shaughnessy costar.

“The House of Lurking Death” – A poisoned box of chocolates is the pair’s first clue in what may be a series of murders.

“The Sunningdale Mystery” – Tommy and Tuppence must solve the murder of a man on a golf course.

“The Clergyman’s Daughter” – A Christie staple, an English country house mystery, serves as the backdrop for this episode, but with a twist – the house may be haunted.

“Finessing the King” – Tommy and Tuppence attend a ball in costume as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, and find a murdered woman among the guests.

“The Ambassador’s Boots” – A seemingly innocent bag swap leads to a much deeper mystery.

“The Man in the Mist” – The murder at a posh hotel of a well-known actress keeps the pair busy.

“The Unbreakable Alibi” – Can Tommy and Tuppence help a young man marry the girl of his dreams (by breaking her alibi)?

“The Case of the Missing Lady” – Tommy and Tuppence search for a polar explorer’s missing fiancee – has the girl been kidnapped?

“The Crackler” – The pair aid Scotland Yard in cracking a band of counterfeiters.

The DVD presents all of the episodes in the original order in which they were aired. SDH subtitles are available and the image is 4:3 fullscreen. The series does have a more “filmed in studio” look to it than the film The Secret Adversary. Acorn includes a disclaimer: “Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image or audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.” The image is certainly not as crystal-clear as we may have become accustomed to in this age of high-definition television, but the series does still look good on a large-scale HD television screen. The period details, sparkling and humorous dialogue, fabulous costumes, and stellar acting make Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries a very enjoyable viewing experience.

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