Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Clergyman’s Daughter
The original stories in the book, The Clergyman’s Daughter and The Red House, are pretty thin. In order to make this one stretch out to full episode length, the show has to add a lot of extra intrigue at the end, with the villains listening in on Tommy and Tuppence, beating them to the solution of the riddle, stalking about with shotgun and bopping people on the head and such. I suppose the effort is appreciated, but really, I could have done with a good deal less of this nonsense. All this added intrigue climaxes in a scene of Tommy and Tuppence sneaking out to dig up the treasure. You’re working for the woman who owns the frigging property. Just go dig it up, morons! This is the first episode to really expand greatly on Christie’s original story and it’s unfortunate that it does so. Even more unfortunately, the episode even muffs the touching moment of the two Beresfords wishing each other a Happy Christmas. It’s a great moment in the story, but it’s tossed off like an afterthought here. Too bad. Too bad all around, on this one.
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Ambassador’s Boots
One of the simplest stories in the original book needs a little extra stuff to be long enough for this episode. There’s a somewhat lengthy subplot involving a group of Tuppence’s friends who, like Tuppence, hunger for the adventures they had during the war years. This adds a lot to the story, but the story itself isn’t that pleasant. It’s much shorter, of course, in the original short story collection and it’s even kind of a trial there. Watching this story play out takes far too long in this adaptation.
Paul Annett, Agatha Christie, Francesca Annis
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Unbreakable Alibi
A lot of this episode is very pleasant. The stuff that comes out of the original story is entertaining. It’s fun to watch Tommy and Tuppence butt their heads against the unbreakable alibis of the title. Michael Jayes is particularly brilliant as the foppish import/export dealer Peter Le Merchant; it’s a tic-ridden, pompous performance and it’s great fun. But the original story is too thin, apparently, as this episode adds a smuggling ring (!) and a murder (!!) to the story. It’s too bad, really; the story, while the solution is incredibly obvious, is pleasant enough as a light diversion and is refreshing because it’s not a serious case. When this episode wraps up with a weepy confession scene (!!!), I was on the couch rolling my eyes instead of wiping tears from them. It’s fun until the end and I guess you have to give them some credit for trying something a little different themselves.
Christopher Hodson, Agatha Christie, David Butler
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Man in the Mist
One of my favorite stories in the book gets a fine, solid treatment. This adaptation expands on a few details. It makes the role of Bulger Estcourt much larger; this isn’t a problem because he’s perfectly played by the equally absurdly named Constantine Gregory. Chris Johnston is equally brilliant as the stolid, not particularly bright police constable, if you can be brilliant playing such a dull character, and I think you can. This is a great adaptation. Along with The Affair of the Pink Pearl and The Sunningdale Mystery, this is one of the best episodes of the series run.
Christopher Hodson, Gerald Savory, Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Case of the Missing Lady
Easily the most comic episode of the entire series, which is fitting; it’s the most obviously comic story, of course, though this episode does go a bit too far. Jonathan Newth has a thankless part as Gabriel Stavansson, but he’s brilliantly funny and the scene of him laying out the case for Tommy and Tuppence is easily the funniest and best in the entire episode, Annis and Warwick getting into the comic tone perfectly. The comedy keeps on coming, as in an added, and extremely extended, sequence of Tuppence sneaking into The Grange by pretending to be a Russian ballerina. Your mileage may vary, but it goes a little long for me and the ensuing chase scene goes way, way too long and is far too slapstick, even for a comic episode. But the strength of the story overcomes; the punchline of the story as Christie wrote it is beautifully delivered and it’s a pretty good episode, only a bit too labored.
Paul Annett, Agatha Christie, Jonathan Hales
Well, it’s a weak episode to end the series, which is too bad. The story is, for my money, one of the weakest in the original book. Expanding the story helps a little; I talked in my review of the story about how it moves too fast and doesn’t really delve into any of the side characters. This one fixes both of those things, but it all still feels like much ado about nothing. And can you believe it? There isn’t even a shot of the cats at the end, those central cats that save the hero’s life. We have to make do with some mewing sound effects. Boy, is that stupid. It’s a shame they ended the series so weakly. The Man in the Mist would have been a much better ending episode. In fact, I think this is my least favorite episode of the series.
Paul Annett, Agatha Christie, Jonathan Hales