Everyone loves a good mystery. Many people like to bury their noses in a classic or contemporary novel about conspiracies, murder, and missing people. Others tend to wildly speculate that the Sudoku puzzles in the newspaper that they can’t seem to solve are they themselves the act of a conspiracy, feel like murdering its creator, et voila: that darn puzzle goes missing! Now, for those of you who can’t be bothered to read an entire book (whether you don’t have the time in your busy schedules, suffer from the same form of Literary ADD like myself, or you’re just plain lazy) and are unable to finish a Sudoku puzzle for one reason or another, we have a plethora of mysteries that are produced on a regular basis for British television.
Why the British? Well, for one thing, they have a lot of people that can actually act. They also gave us one of the greatest mystery writers ever: Agatha Christie. And, since England produces a number of Christie-based television dramas almost every year, this chapter of Catching Up At The Video Store features two of those more-recent adaptations. Additionally, since the wonderful people at Acorn Media are so engaged in educating those spoiled Americans who grew up watching PBS rather than CBS, every item featured in “Mysteries From The Other Side Of The Pond” hails from that particular home video distributor.
· Marple: The Pale Horse
The Short Version: Whoops. Miss Marple finds herself in the wrong story!
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Since we’re already on the subject of Agatha Christie adaptations, we’ll start there. Apparently, the writers and producers of the Marple series ran out of original source material — leading them to rewrite a non-Miss Marple story entitled The Pale Horse for that lovable little old lady named Jane. Julia McKenzie takes the lead as the meddling mademoiselle in a story that was written with a young male character as the protagonist, and originally had Poirot regular Ariadne Oliver as a supporting character (but who is absent in this version). Immediately following the puzzling confession from a dying woman, a priest is murdered in the streets. And, since the deceased was a good friend of Miss Marple, it’s only natural that she sticks her nose in to find out “whodunit” — a case that leads her to a humble village and a grand scheme (including witches!). J.J. Field, Elizabeth Rider, Lynda Baron Nicholas Parsons and Nigel Planer (The Young Ones) co-star. Though it’s not a very authentic account of the Christie novel, it’s still fun. In a thoroughly delightful move, Acorn Media has included a second disc with this standalone release; that of a 1997 TV adaptation which is closer to the original novel (read: no Miss Marple) and, thus, entirely different (though Ariadne Oliver still isn’t in it) that features Andy Serkis in a supporting role. Acorn Media has released The Pale Horse with all of the other 2010-made Marple TV movies (The Blue Geranium, The Secret Of Chimneys and The Mirror Crack‘d From Side To Side — all three of which were released on DVD last year in Agatha Christie’s Marple: Series 5) in a Blu-ray set.