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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on June 13, 2011
A wise man once said that 'nobody can write an Agatha Christie story but the authoress herself'; in her day, Agatha Christie was considered the ultimate mistress of suspense.
Where most authors of whodunits use peripheral characters to move the plot forward, Agatha did not. All her characters have vibrant life breathed into them. When you are reading one of her stories, more often than not, the characters leap off the page. The reader is lured into what seems like an idyllic world, filled with county fairs, stately homes and thatched-roof cottages, but as the story progresses the reader discovers that Agatha's world is filled with hidden grudges, timeless mysteries, secret affairs and the occasional bumbling police detective.
Miss Marple is one of Christie's legendary detectives; she combines a gentle nature with an unrelenting shrewdness and a no-nonsense attitude. And above all, her empathy for the victim is profound, as it is with all Agatha's detectives. With a combination of all these elements, Christie's chilling tales translate well to the big or small screen and this box set is no exception.
Julia Mackenzie reprises her role as Miss Marple. Unlike her predecessor Geraldine McEwan, who had a bit of a mischievous streak and a twinkle in her eye, Mackenzie plays it straight, which will please Christie purists.
In Blue Geranium, Miss Marple makes a mistake, heaven forbid, and she races against time to correct her error as the person she originally accused of murder is about to be sent to the gallows. This teleplay was adapted from a short story by Agatha, first published in the 1930s. It may represent the future for Agatha Christie adaptations, as many of her short stories have not been picked up by Hollywood or British TV. This story has a freshness to it and as it was not originally a full-length novel the teleplay writer has been given a chance to really step up the pace and flow; it is wonderfully told in a style that perhaps would not make Agatha turn in her grave.
The Secret of Chimneys is the most messed around with of all the stories. Secret passageways have been added, subplots about diamonds have been altered and, goodness gracious, even the identity of the murderer has been changed. Putting all that aside, however, it features the ultra-posh James Fox and I could listen to his dulcet tones all day. So, I still enjoyed it!
The last tale is the most famous of all the stories. It is another adaptation of The Mirror Crack'd. Unfortunately, when tackling a story that has previously received the Hollywood treatment and starred such legends as Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and Kim Novak, it's hard not to compare the British version to that original outing. In a straight comparison, most fall short. Only Victoria Smurfitt stands out because instead of playing the love-sick Ella Blunt straight, as Geraldine Chaplin did, she completely hams it up. Only the best actors can get away with this, and she does so with gusto. This retelling actually owes a lot to the big-budget Hollywood adaptation. So, the legends have been paid their due, and you shouldn't get annoyed with the writers because Agatha, the Queen of Crime, herself pinched the plot from a true life story involving actress Gene Tierney.
All in all, if you are an Agatha Christie nut and get really upset if the slightest detail is changed, it may be best not to watch as that vein on the side of your forehead may pop out several times. However, if you are slightly more chilled and, like me, love the idea of grand old English houses filled with occupants who appear on the surface to be a happy, if slightly uptight bunch, but turn out to have dark secrets and a propensity to knock each other off, then this is the box set for you. So, do yourself a favour and wait for a stormy night, settle down beside the fire, pour yourself a cup of cocoa and enjoy...
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on December 17, 2010
I love the Marple series but I am a little disappointed with this set as there are only 3 episodes- the past few have had 4. There is an extra DVD included- a documentary title "Agatha Christie's Garden", which is fine as a bonus feature but I would have preferred a 4th episode. I wonder why The Pale Horse wasn't included?
Oh well! Still a wonderful series!
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on June 1, 2014
This series 5 continues an excellent presentation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in all its forms. A superb presentation, by an excellent actress. Well worth the price.- and closed captioned for those of us who need that bonus.
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on August 12, 2013
I find it very disappointing when I receive a new DVD Set and there are old stories in with the new. i find it very hard to get all new episodes and I feel some times I waste my money.
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on June 30, 2015
Excellent addition to my growing collection
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 18, 2013
This is a series also "supposedly based" on the Agatha Christie novels and it seems to me now, that it is all for 'how much money can we make from this series without being actually TRUE to the story' attitude!!!!! I was really very disappointed as I have just read the book of "The Secret of Chimneys" and was thinking as I watched this movie, '' When are they going to copy from the book some of the situations or conversations that I remember reading??????" I know that if you read a book, you can remember most of what was ACTUALLY said in the novel itself. Some of the points I am going to make about the book to the movie are:
1) It was NOT DONE by Miss Marple -- It was done by Supt. Battle
2) Even though Lord Caterham's daughter "Bundle" was IN the story, SHE was NOT the main character.
3) The novel was more about royalty/control of oil/murder/political motives NOT about love affairs/illegitimate children(!!!)
4) Bundle's father did NOT kill anyone, he was just a character in the novel.

I found that when I read Mysterious Affair at Styles, the "movie" to that book was A LOT MORE ACCURATE than what "The Secret of Chimneys" movie was. It makes me wonder about the NEXT series that comes out with Julia McKenzie in it-- "is this going to be another UNTRUE adaptation of the Agatha Christie Novels???" If so, I would rather read the NOVEL instead of watch another 'dud' of a movie that is "based on Agatha Christie"

I am really shocked to see how they are willing to even say "based on the Agatha Christie novel" when in actual FACT it is not! With the new ones coming out of Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple it really makes me wonder how they can get away with even trying to do movies of her novels. As for the REST of Agatha Christie's novels, I wonder how FAR OFF they made them or are going to make them???? Are those movies ALSO NOT GOING TO BE TRUE to the novel???? For shame to the writers of these movies that they destroy the ACTUAL novel's storyline! If I knew how BAD these movies were compared to the novels that were ACTUALLY written, I would never have bought them in the first place!
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