Agatha Christie Hour: Set One

July 1, 2013 - Comment

As seen on PBS’s Mystery! Tales of romance and danger in the glittering 1920s and ’30s How can “happiness expert” Parker Pyne return a wayward husband’s affections to his wife? Will a chance encounter on a train transform the life of a jobless investment broker forever? And why does a vision in a mirror mean

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As seen on PBS’s Mystery!

Tales of romance and danger in the glittering 1920s and ’30s

How can “happiness expert” Parker Pyne return a wayward husband’s affections to his wife? Will a chance encounter on a train transform the life of a jobless investment broker forever? And why does a vision in a mirror mean misery for a beautiful bride-to-be?

In these stories, lesser-known Christie heroes and heroines solve crimes of the heart as well as puzzling cases of larceny and murder. With just the right mix of danger and deception, romance and revenge, innocence and intrigue, these classic adaptations are Christie at her best, now on DVD for the first time.

The top-notch ensemble cast includes John Nettles (Midsomer Murders), James Grout (Inspector Morse), and William Gaunt (No Place Like Home) and features Maurice Denham (All Passion SpentA quintet of short stories by the unparalleled mistress of crime fiction are turned into one-hour mysteries in The Agatha Christie Hour, Set 1. What’s most interesting about these episodes is that none of them are murders (well, one of them might be…); instead, they range from intriguing character portraits to whimsical comedy in a P. G. Wodehouse vein. Two feature one of Christie’s lesser-known recurring characters, Parker Pyne, a retired statistician who’s turned his gift for finding patterns in data to solving the problem of unhappiness. Both cases involve folk whose lives have gone flat–one, a middle-aged wife who fears her husband has eyes for his young secretary, the other a retired military officer who finds civilian life bland and tedious. With the aid of his secretary Miss Lemon and the author Ariadne Oliver, both of whom went on to appear in some Hercule Poirot tales, Pyne orchestrates adventures for his clients.

The other three stories are one-off tales, all unusual in the Christie canon: In a Glass Darkly has an outright supernatural element, as a young man has a vision in a mirror of a strangling–but only after surviving World War I and marrying the woman in his vision is the truth revealed. The Girl in the Train is a sprightly comic pastiche, a spin on spy stories like The 39 Steps, in which a hapless young gentleman gets a small parcel from a mysterious young woman and ends up foiling smugglers. But the most intriguing episode of all is The Fourth Man; a troubled reporter (John Nettles of Midsomer Murders) tells a psychiatrist, a priest, and a lawyer the story of two girls whose personalities are intertwined in a strange, metaphysically sadomasochistic relationship. Christie fans in particular will find these fascinating side trips, but you don’t have to be a mystery reader to enjoy these stories. –Bret Fetzer

Comments

Lady Peter "Harriet" says:

Another rip-off for Americans I have been waiting for years for these programs to come to dvd! My family and I watched them on A&E many years ago when it was still a good network. The scripts are excellent, the acting superb. Rather atypical fare for Christie dramatizations, but still quite worthy. I am giving the programs 5 stars for content.The complaint that I have is with the marketing here in America. There were actually 10 dramatizations done for The Agatha Christie Hour. This set contains only five for,…

Harold Wolf "Doc" says:

Period British drama from the writer of Poirot Agatha Christie has done more for British Mystery than any other writer, and this set provides some of her lesser known tales. It’s not Poirot, but some of the Poirot characters first appeared in these stories. Five different mysteries, but all taking place in the 1920-30s period, and provide a look at a bit more of Christie than perhaps Poirot displays. There is more to Agatha Christie than just mystery.The true question for this series is not Will Christie’s stories be good?; but…

Stephanie DePue says:

A Look at Agatha Christie’s Early Non- Poirot Work “The Agatha Christie Hour, Set 1” another classic British mystery television series, and a long-awaited one, finally arrives here. Ten episodes of it were made by Thames Television for Britain’s ITV (independent television stations), in 1982; it was broadcast on Public Broadcasting’s “Mystery!” in the early 1980s. We now get the first five stories, showing another, softer side of, possibly, the world’s most famous and beloved practitioner of British mystery writing. They arrive in a boxed…

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