It is a well-documented fact that I love a good mystery. And in the last 10 years or more I have become an avid fan of Dame Agatha Christie. I also enjoy a good period drama and most anything produced by the BBC. So for the last several years I’ve been watching the Marple series which has starred both Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple.
They have been very enjoyable films even though the novels and series can vary greatly. This past week I started watching some of the Marple series episodes which I missed when they first aired. One of these was By the Pricking of my Thumbs and that along with Miss Marple two other of Ms. Christies sleuths would appear in the film—that of Tommy and Tuppance. Now I have read the Tommy and Tuppance novels and I loved them. I even watched the tv series staring Francesca Annis and James Warwick which was wonderfully cast. Unfortunately, the new version of By the Pricking of my Thumbs from 2006 was a bit wanting. I watched the film and enjoyed it but I knew something wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t just that the film included Miss Marple and this novel wasn’t a Miss Marple story. No, the problem was somewhat due to the casting of the Tommy & Tuppance characters and even more to the writing of these characters. This T & T were not the two I remembered from the early novels.
So, I got a copy of the book and read it in a couple days. It was very good (no surprise) and I saw that Ms. Christie had preserved her sleuthing couple. They were older, more mature but in essentials still the Tommy and Tuppance of their youth. The screenwriters had also dismantled the plot of the original but of course they seem to be doing that to all her stories in this recent series. I have to wonder why. Why change something that is already so good. Are they doing it to appeal to a modern audience? Are they doing it to be more cinematically exciting? No. They just seem to be making changes for no other reason than to just make changes. I remarked to my oldest son, “perhaps they are changing the stories so that we don’t know how they are going to turn out in the end.” Hmm, I guess we just have to try to enjoy them as they are and not worry about their faithfulness to the original. But in the case of By the Pricking of my Thumbs I have to say badly done. I can forgive a change in plot and even ‘who done it’ but changing who Tommy and Tuppance are—that I cannot forgive.