Monday, 27 July 2015

Partners In Crime [television]

Agatha Christie Partners in Crime Walliams Raine episode 1
 I had a mixture of hopes and fears for the new TV version of Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime stories. On reflection, it wasn't awful, but I didn't fall immediately in love with the programme.
This episode was the start of an adaptation of The Secret Adversary, written in 1922 but hinging on things that happened during the First World War. Updating it to the 1950s has worked fairly well, and I expect the First World War/ Bolshevik elements from the original novel will translate into Second World War/ Communists in the series. While the plot looks like it should remain fairly true to the source, the same cannot be said of Tommy and Tuppence themselves.

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are unusual for Christie characters because they aged as she wrote the books: bright young things in The Secret Adversary, and elderly by 1973's Postern of Fate, so for this programme's Tommy and Tuppence to be grown up in the early 1950s is fairly reasonable. Christie's Tommy and Tuppence likewise had children, though they had three, not one. However, the programme's Tommy is a bit of a buffoon, and I really didn't like that. I had wondered how Walliams would take to a role packed with Dick Barton-style derring do, and the truth is, they took out a lot of his daring and charm. Mr Robot's assessment was that he could see Walliams' Tommy as a George Smiley type but not a Dick Barton, and I thought that was a pretty good assessment. Man of action he is not.
Agatha Christie Partners in Crime Walliams Raine episode 1
Jessica Raine made a more expected Tuppence - you can really imagine her as having been a Bright Young Thing, though as Mr Robot repeatedly pointed out, the role belonged to Tamsin Greig. It's hard to imagine why Tuppence is married to Tommy, and I can't help hoping that after all the allusions to his wartime accident, they give Tommy some hidden depths. I didn't like Tuppence's hats as they never go with anything else she's wearing, and maybe that's a visual clue to her character as everything else she wore worked well, but it just jarred terribly to me as women in the 1950s were much better co-ordinated.

What did I like? I loved the look of the thing, with proper period settings, and nice touches like areas of London still bomb-damaged from the war. The Beresfords' home is just adorable, with its bold wallpaper and oddly-shaped windows - and I loved the fact that the production designers hadn't felt the need to go all atomic to prove LOOK THIS IS THE 1950S, SEE? There are people of colour in this, which shouldn't be remarkable but, frankly, in a Christie adaptation, isn't that common, and it's something I welcome in costume dramas. I like the fact that the story is being told over three episodes rather than crammed into one; too many programmes nowadays get shoehorned into an hour and it's nice to see something longer.

So, the Robot jury's still out on this one, but I know other vintage lovers enjoyed it thoroughly. Did you watch it? What do you think?

15 comments :

  1. I might check this out on the i-player later, as usual we've been away this weekend and I could do with watching something non-taxing. x

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    1. It's not bad. I'm still out on this one, so I'll watch a few more eps as they come on.

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  2. Didn't much care for it, pretty to look at but then I just don't like any modern costume/period productions, I'm afraid. I always go back to the ones from decades ago when they were done so much better. I feel they always put the present on the past nowadays which does not work and I really don't like it.
    Might look at 2nd episode but might not, certainly didn't grip me or make me care if they live or die!

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    1. Yes, there wasn't a lot to engage with with either character, was there? They needed more chemistry, and less buffoonery from Tommy.

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  3. I loved the authentic period details and I loved their house but otherwise I was bored rigid and can't even be bothered to watch next week's episode to see how it ends, I simply don't care enough. Walliams did not work at all as Tommy and I hated that they moved the story to the 1950's.

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    1. The house was definitely the star (along with Pippin the dog). I didn't mind the move into the 1950s - I love a bit of cold war shenanigans, and it was probably easier to get vehicles/costumes/locations for - but the whole thing seemed lacking a heart.

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  4. Haven't seen it, I'm afraid. I don't mind if producers change details/settings if there is a reason, but so often I'm left wondering why they tinkered with the original. xxx

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    1. My guess is: filming the stories as the original books were written would have meant either multiple sets of actors (no 'stars'!) to cover T&T in their twenties, forties and sixties, or unconvincing makeup to make a middeaged duo look younger/older for different stories. Also, it'd be mighty costly to have to get cars, costumes and locations for three different eras, much easier to move everything into one. Hence all the TV Poirots are set in the 30s even when the books aren't. I'd guess money and the need for a star for the whole thing are the main drivers in this case.

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  5. Didn't see this, or 'The Outcast' which is on I think set in the 50s also. I have no time for this kind of thing at the moment, I'm in a Phd-wedding vortex!!! Glad I didn't bother really from your review xx

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    1. It's not BAD bad. I'll be watching other eps to see how they go, I haven't given up on it.

      PhD and wedding - nothing like getting all the big stuff done at once ;-) Don't forget to get some sleep!

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  6. I quite enjoyed it, although I didn't get excited about it like I have done with other period dramas. I haven't had a chance to read the books yet so I'm coming to it without any prior knowledge of the characters. I quite like Tuppence, and actually loved her hats, although when she put the one with the yellow feather with a Pendleton jacket and capri pants I did think it was an odd combination. I'll continue to watch it as it's light-hearted fun for a Sunday evening but I won't rush and download it once it's released to buy, unlike others in the past.

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    1. Yeah, I hit the point of thinking, "The hats are so wrong it's got to be deliberate". Tuppence is hat-mad in the books, if I recall. I do love the rest of her outfits, she's got some gorgeous suits.

      I'm going to watch this week's ep too, I haven't completely given up on it.

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  7. I haven't seen this yet (we ditched our cable about 2.5 years ago, so I happily rely on Netflix.ca for most of my TV viewing), but that costumes alone would sucker me instantly. I've sat though some very "meh" period series and movies over the years just to daydream over the fabulous costumes/period clothing. (I think a lot of us vintage folks have done that!)

    Big hugs & many thanks for your terrific blog comments this week,
    ♥ Jessica

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  8. I enjoyed watching it for the costumes and sets but felt it was a bit Rohl Dahl, it felt it should be a Christmas drama for kids. I've only watched the first episode but I will watch the others.

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  9. Does anyone know where the bedroom wallpaper is from?

    Cheers

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