A quintet of short stories by the unparalleled mistress of crime fiction are turned into one-hour mysteries in The Agatha Christie Hour, Set 1
. What's most interesting about these episodes is that none of them are murders (well, one of them might be…); instead, they range from intriguing character portraits to whimsical comedy in a P. G. Wodehouse vein. Two feature one of Christie's lesser-known recurring characters, Parker Pyne, a retired statistician who's turned his gift for finding patterns in data to solving the problem of unhappiness. Both cases involve folk whose lives have gone flat--one, a middle-aged wife who fears her husband has eyes for his young secretary, the other a retired military officer who finds civilian life bland and tedious. With the aid of his secretary Miss Lemon and the author Ariadne Oliver, both of whom went on to appear in some Hercule Poirot tales, Pyne orchestrates adventures for his clients.
The other three stories are one-off tales, all unusual in the Christie canon: In a Glass Darkly has an outright supernatural element, as a young man has a vision in a mirror of a strangling--but only after surviving World War I and marrying the woman in his vision is the truth revealed. The Girl in the Train is a sprightly comic pastiche, a spin on spy stories like The 39 Steps, in which a hapless young gentleman gets a small parcel from a mysterious young woman and ends up foiling smugglers. But the most intriguing episode of all is The Fourth Man; a troubled reporter (John Nettles of Midsomer Murders) tells a psychiatrist, a priest, and a lawyer the story of two girls whose personalities are intertwined in a strange, metaphysically sadomasochistic relationship. Christie fans in particular will find these fascinating side trips, but you don't have to be a mystery reader to enjoy these stories. --Bret Fetzer
How can "happiness expert" Parker Pyne return a wayward husband's affections to his wife? Will a chance encounter on a train transform the life of a jobless investment broker forever? And why does a vision in a mirror mean misery for a beautiful bride-to-be?
In these stories, the lesser-known Christie heroes and heroines solve crimes of the heart as well as puzzling cases of larceny and murder. With just the right mix of danger and deception, romance and revenge, innocence and intrigue, these classic adaptations are Christie at her best, now on DVD for the first time.
The top-notch ensemble cast includes John Nettles (Midsomer Murders), James Grout (Inspector Morse), and William Gaunt (No Place Like Home) and features Maurice Denham (Behaving Badly) as the incomparable Parker Pyne.