Plot: What’s it about?
Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan) isn’t the typical detective, as she is an older woman with a kind heart and kind manners. Her age is never a hindrance to her either, as her mind as sharp and her attention to detail is impressive. Those around her often underestimate her based on her age and warm disposition, which can lead to mistakes by those on the wrong side of the law. After all, what criminal thinks a simple old woman can unravel their crimes, especially one as wispy as Miss Marple? Her experience in life has paid dividends, as she can read people and pick up on things others would overlook. Even as the police work around her, she is able to gather clues they miss and make connections they haven’t even thought about. But can she solve the most complex of mysteries, or has age finally caught up with Miss Marple?
I’m a fan of detective shows of all kinds, but I’ve never been that taken with Miss Marple. Based on Agatha Christie’s acclaimed novels, Miss Marple is well known and quite popular with fans of mysteries. But to me, the series with Joan Hickson was too slow and even dull at times. The concept of an elderly female detective just isn’t one that speaks to me and as I expected, the series had an almost glacial pace at times. Even so, I wanted to check out Marple, a new take on Christie’s mysteries, with a new woman in the lead, Geraldine McEwan. I still wasn’t head over the heels for this new series, but it was an improvement and I was never bored with these four episodes. McEwan is great as Marple, with more presence than Hickson, thanks in part to the focus on the character, as we learn more about Marple this time around. This collection includes the first four episodes, which ran from 2004-05. The episodes are The Body in the Library, A Murder is Announced, The Murder at the Vicarage, and 4:50 From Paddington. These four episodes are all well crafted, worthwhile mysteries and I am looking forward to future installments of Marple.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was impressed here, as the episodes look clean and sharp. The period visuals look terrific here, with the only concern some light grain at times. This never proves to be a huge issue however, so no reason to dwell on that. I found the image to be natural, with bright colors and smooth, accurate contrast throughout. The detail level is solid through all the episodes, if a touch soft in some places. I think these episodes look as good, if not better than when broadcast, so fans should be satisfied.
Audio: How does it sound?
I have no complaints about the audio, but this show is about as low impact as it gets, so the soundtracks are reserved. The music does add a little depth and life to the experience, but by far, dialogue dominates. This makes sense, since I doubt anyone expects Miss Marple to break out submachine guns or rocket launchers. The vocals are the main focus and dialogue sounds fine, no volume issues or harshness to mention.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The one hour behind the scenes piece sounds great in concept, but is more clips from the show than true behind the scenes material, so don’t get your hopes up. You will find some interviews and what not, but for the most part, this is a promotional piece. This release also includes a profile of Agatha Christie and a text based guide to adaptations of her work, as well as filmographies on prominent cast members.