Monday, January 15, 2007

t'other Marple

There's nothing like a good murder when you're ill, and the last few days have passed most agreeably with the new Marples starring Geraldine McEwan and Lots of Famous People.

Now, don't get me wrong. These aren't *good* television. They are shoddy. Oh, everything looks lovely, but the overall tone is Grown-Up Pantomime. Gone is any sense of menace, or creeping evil. Instead:

DASHING YOUNG MAN: Lord, but I'm a rotter! (drinks whisky)

BRIGHT YOUNG GIRL: Goodness me, I'm fashionable but heartless (smokes cigarette)

FRANCES DE LA TOUR: I'm too famous for this cameo, you know.

MOUSY GIRL: I'm so dowdy.

KEITH ALLEN: Fuck me, I'm playing the copper. I'll whisper menacingly.

STEVEN BERKOFF: And I'm the creepy lawyer. Yum. Yum.

MARPLE: Dodder, dodder, twinkle, twinkle. Smug.

DASHING YOUNG MAN: Miss Marple, why don't I put on a cardigan and do some investigating?

BRIGHT YOUNG GIRL: And I'll change into something very tight-waisted and smoke erotically.

MARPLE: I'll just sit in the corner knitting. I know everything. I won't stop anyone being killed, though.

FAMOUS CORPSE: Look at me! I'm very famous! And I'm just playing a dead body! How brilliant is that! See me not breathing.

JOANNA LUMLEY: I'm playing Marple's best friend. I promise not to steal a single scene. Whoops, apart from that one. Oopsie, and that one. Silly me. Look at all the simply lovely hats I'm wearing.

ROBERT HARDY: I'm still alive. And still doing Winston Churchill cameos.

[ Strangely old-fashioned scene change ]

MARPLE: Well, the murder was committed by someone very famous.

MOUSY GIRL: Goodness! I'll let down my hair and become beautiful.

BRIGHT YOUNG GIRL: How lovely. Let's be lesbians!

DASHING YOUNG MAN: Brilliant! And I'm no longer a rotter.

MARPLE: I'd like to smugly hint at a secret sadness by staring at my picture of Marc Warren in a moustache.



Brian Sibley said...

That's exactly what's wrong with them! Bring back wispy, waspy Joan Hickson, I say, who knew precisely the right proportions of knitting to tea-drinking or dear old gutsy Margaret Rutherford who laced the cyanide with laughter and still managed to make us jump every now and again...

Chris C said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that that particular Miss Marple is actually only 49 and uses expertly applied make-up so that she can get free travel and discounts at the theatre.

Skip said...

Exactly! Margaret Rutherford doing the twist with Robert Morley... or Joan Hickson despatching a villain with fly spray.

Instead of poor Geraldine, who just ends up sat in a corner, blinking benevolently.

And yet, they're strangely compelling...

klee said...

Geraldine McEwan plays Miss Marple as a murderer-manque. She's sat there, eyes twinkling, thinking "If I wasn't solving murders I'd be out there committing them!"

But yes, Joan Hickson was better. And had a far superior theme tune.

Gorilla Bananas said...

And what was wrong with that, may I ask? Mr Skip, you have a gift for writing screen plays. Could you now write one about an ex-circus gorilla (me), a troupe of female acrobats (The Spice Girls) and the Loch Ness monster (Robbie Coltrane)?

James said...

There've been a couple of decent ITV Marples, (The 4.50 from Paddington, and A Murder is Announced were both fairly decent) but the rest have been pretty piss poor. Sleeping Murder was a definite low point:

(You'll have to imagine the word "Miss" struck through, as blogspot won't le me use that tag)

Scene 1: Int, day. Miss Marple, Hugh Hombeam and Gwenda Halliday are sipping tea in a post drawing room

Gwenda: Oh, thank you so much for solving my case, Miss Marple! I can rest easy now that I know my mother was a jewel thief, and my uncle was a liar and a murderer motivated by incestuous lust!

Hombeam Absolutely! And now I’ve stolen dear Gwen away from her fiancĂ©, we can be happy together! I’m so glad I called you here to help us. But, erm, you might find this a strange question, but how do we know each other? We must be pretty close friends that you’ll travel half-way across the country to investigate a two-decade-old murder for me, but I don’t seem to recall either of us ever mentioning it…

Miss Marple: Oh, don’t worry about it, dear. Our viewers are far too simple to worry about such complex issues as that, and if any do start fretting over it, I can always distract them with my charming spintsterly ways. Look, I’m doing some knitting!

The door bursts open, and in runs a very discombobulated Inspector Slack

Slack: Oh Miss Marple, I’m so glad I’ve found you! I desperately need your help!

Miss Marple: Whatever’s the matter, Inspector?

Slack: It’s these adaptations, Miss Marple – they’re doing terrible things to Christie’s stories! In the first series, you couldn’t move without tripping over a lesbian, but now ITV have realised that a Sapphic tryst or seven isn’t going to shock a modern audience, so they’re upping the ante. In just the first episode alone, they’ve hit us with some entirely unnecessary incest. What diabolical scheme will they try next to make our quaint little mysteries “relevant”?

Miss Marple: Oh, is that all, Inspector? I worked that out weeks ago! Our third series will see a sudden spate of… [dramatic pause, before she proceeds with relish:] sadomasochistic necrophilic bestiality!

Slack: Gasp! But how can you be so sure?

Miss Marple: Oh, it’s childishly simple, Inspector – if there’s one thing ITV are renowned for, it’s flogging a dead horse!

Scene 2: Int, day, a Doctor Who convention

Paul McGann: …and when I turned round, they were all wearing eye-patches!