"Sleeping Murder" stars Sophia Myles as Gwenda Halliday, a young woman haunted by flashbacks of the memory of a killing she observed as a little girl in a stately British house. Problem is, Gwenda has only recently moved to Britain for the first time in her life, after growing up in India. Dawn French, Martin Kemp, and Geraldine Chaplin also star in the tale, which involves an old troupe of actors, a jewelry theft, and a very surprising conclusion. "By the Pricking of My Thumbs" concerns the disappearance of a doddering old woman who leaves behind a strange, spooky painting of a cottage in the woods, an unnerving figure lurking in the structure's window. Miss Marple is on the trail, but she allows the lonely, alcoholic wife (Scacchi) of a government investigator (Andrews) to take the leada boost to the younger woman's self-esteem.
The ambitious "The Moving Finger" is the most singular episode in series 2, a cheeky--almost subversive--vision of a rosy, picture-postcard village whose tranquility is undone by a series of hateful letters mailed to individuals in the community. Miss Marple, observing the tragic effects of these missives on relationships and reputations, is practically in the background in this story, watching closely as a nihilistic young man (James D'Arcy) comes out of his cynical, alcohol-laced haze to investigate the source of so much misery. (Bonus: director Ken Russell appears as the local, red-cheeked vicar.) Finally, "The Sittaford Mystery" finds Timothy Dalton playing a likely prospect to become prime minister, until he's stabbed to death following a séance. Set in a rundown hotel during a severe winter storm, the episode co-stars James Murray, Rita Tushingham, and comic-actor-director Mel Smith, the latter as the late, great man's touchingly loyal, right-hand man. --Tom Keogh