Miss Marple – They Do It With Mirrors: A Poor Reflection

January 1, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

2.5

Marple300AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MISS MARPLE – THEY DO IT WITH MIRRORS: Friday 1st January, ITV1, 9pm ALERT ME

We can’t seem to get enough of detectives this December…

First Sherlock Holmes crashes through the Houses of Parliament, then Poirot dispenses a bit of Belgian moustachioed justice at Christmas and now we have everybody’s favourite elderly busybody Miss Marple returning to our screens with They Do It With Mirrors.

Ruth Van Rydock (modern day vampire Joan Collins) is alarmed by a mysterious fire at her sister Carrie Louise’s estate and suspecting foul play, implores her old pal Miss Marple to investigate.

Arriving on the scene, Miss Marple (the world’s most likable peeled grape Julia McKenzie) discovers that Carrie Louise (Penelope Wilton) is her usual carefree self but the grounds of Stonygate are now doubling as a reform prison for young men, the latest of her philanthropic endeavours.

The household are in the midst of rehearsing a play to entertain the inmates, organised by Carrie’s third husband Lewis Serrocold (Brian Cox looking a bit like Ricky Tomlinson).

Helping with the proceedings are Carrie’s stepson Stephen (Liam Garrigan – a less smug Matt Willis), Carrie’s daughters Mildred (Janine from Ghost Busters) and Gina, now married to an American GI Wally (Woody Harrelson lookalike Elliot Cowan).

Also swanning about is Edgar Lawson, a rather unhinged young man who believes Winston Churchill is his father and housekeeper Jolly Bellever. Keep an eye out for Alexei Sayle too as the terribly accented and preposterously named Dr. Maverick.

As if there weren’t enough characters crammed on the screen, another stepson, this time from her first marriage, Christian Gulbrandsen (Nigel Terry) turns up wanting to discuss urgent financial business. During a power cut in one of the play’s rehearsals Christian is stabbed in the back and found dead at his typewriter while Carrie Louise’s second husband Johnny Restarick makes a surprise entrance.

Quick! To the Marplemobile!

The local police arrive on the scene but seem quite content for Miss Marple to tell them how to do their jobs, following at their heels like a crime solving duckling.

It’s the usual Agatha Christie schtick – Marple’s powerful perception and attention to detail enable her to piece together a convoluted and elaborate plot which even has the audacity to include a secret passageway as well as the usual arsenic and background politics. It’s like a real life version of Cluedo.

Julia McKenzie is engaging as Marple, gently prodding the dim-witted flatfoots in the right direction while making the minimum of fuss. It’s just a shame that the plot is so convoluted and involves so many characters that it’s often hard to keep track of their names and relationships to each other, much less the plot.

This combined with character’s habits of leaving hilarious theatrical pauses at the end of sentences to make everything sound like a sinister pronouncement (“Enjoy your…shut eye?) makes them sound like knock-off Bond villains and detracts from any sense of immersion.

This and the fact that it’s 90 minutes long (20 of which are simply introducing the 8000 characters) and it’s more of a mystery why I’m still awake.