Agatha Christie: Marple 4.01 A Pocket Full of Rye (2009, Mystery TV) – 5/10 review

Julia McKenzie: Miss Marple
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Helen Baxendale: Mary Dove
Joseph Beattie: Vivian Dubois
Ken Campbell: Crump
Lucy Cohu: Pat Fortescue
Kenneth Cranham: Rex Fortescue
Rupert Graves: Lance Fortescue
Ralf Little: Sergeant Pickford
Matthew Macfadyen: Inspector Neele
Anna Madeley: Adele Fortescue
Ben Miles: Percival Fortescue
Hattie Morahan: Elaine Fortescue
Wendy Richard: Mrs Crump
Edward Tudor Pole: Professor Bernsdorrf
Liz White: Jennifer Fortescue
Prunella Scales: Mrs Mackenzie
Writer (Screenplay): Kevin Elyot
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Charles Palmer
In Memory Of 1941 to 2008: Ken Campbell
In Memory Of 1943 to 2009: Wendy Richard

Agatha Christie: Marple 4.01 Pocket Full of Rye, A (2009)

Unloved patriarch and odious businessman-losing-his-touch Rex Fortescue dies drinking his morning tea while alone in his office. He’s been poisoned but, even more unusually, his pocket is full of rye.

5/10

This whodunit has a brilliant intrigue (why does a dead man have a pocketful of the eponymous rye?) and a mystery where, as is ideal, all the clues can be clearly presented visually without giving the game away. Sadly, new Marple Julia Mckenzie doesn’t sound like an old lady and doesn’t have much of a reason to be where she is most of the time but she does look the part. The critical problem, though, is the same as all the ITV Christie stuff for years: no atmosphere, no fun and no humanity. In place of genuine atmosphere, it’s photographed in a permanent haze. The clumsy director also clearly isn’t interested in character and performance and spends his time impressing himself with flashbacks and different but boring composition. It’s quite well paced but when you’re expecting it to wrap things up, there’s still another ad-break to go.

This Agatha Christie: Marple episode contains unpleasant scenes, violence and mild sexuality.

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