Last night I watched two crime series on television, and it was the best of times and the worst of times. Well maybe not the worst but very annoying.....
Spiral 2 continues the story of the struggle to maintain law and order in Paris. I read some time ago in a book about the French army mutinies of 1917, which stated the gulf between officers and men was greatest not in the British, Russian and German Imperial armies but in the army of the French Republic. In Spiral 2 we see a legal system collapsing and a police force under massive stress trying to deal with on one hand the immigrant populations of the "banlieue" [lieu de ban:places of exile] and on the other a privileged class, who regard themselves above the law.
No wonder Police Capitaine Laure Berthaud [Caroline Proust] looks rattled, disheveled and a good deal less glamorous than in Spiral 1. Most of the cast who survived series 1 return, including the cadaverous Judge Francois Roban [Phillipe Duclos], smooth prosecutor Pierre Clement [Gregory Fitoussi] and the attractive but machiavellian lawyer Josephine Karlsson [Audrey Fleurot]. Berthaud is ably supported by her loyal veteran cops Gilou [Thiery Godard], who seems to have recovered from his addiction to cocaine, and Fromentin [Fred Bianconi].
With this almost perfect casting and with Pierre Clement again mixing with the rich, powerful and corrupt this promises to be another great piece of television. Highlight of the first episode was a harrowing scene that should have been a dreadful warning to any young person contemplating taking drugs.
Listen or look [it is subtitled] for a great line by Gilou later in the episode.
I had watched Agatha Christie's Marple earlier in the evening and was still asking myself the question, why?
The episode was very evocative of England in the 1950s and we even were shown at one point the date on the newspaper is 1955. But Murder is Easy was written in 1939 and the book does not even feature the character Miss Jane Marple. She has been inserted into the plot which has also been altered considerably for the purposes of television. This was not achieved very successfully and despite a gallant attempt Julia McKenzie she will always be compared unfavourably in my mind with Joan Hickson, the definitive Jane Marple.
I admit to being extremely old fashioned and for instance not liking Mozart or Puccini operas in modern dress or book plots to be hacked about. I remember an episode in the Marple series, with Geraldine McEwan that ended up a little bit more like a Sarah Waters adaptation than an Agatha Christie.
Next week's episode is Why Didn't They Ask Evans, written by Agatha Christie in 1934, and once again with no Miss Marple.
Ironically ITV3 is showing next weekend the 1981 adaptation, which was fairly faithful to the book plot, and starred debonair James Warwick, as Bobby Jones, and the fragrant Francesca Annis as Lady Frances Derwent. This was so well received at the time that Warwick and Annis went on to star in Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime series based on her characters Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.
Why not write completely new stories ? Why not remake the old stories with the new cast if you want to ? Didn't Miss Jane Marple appear in 12 novels and 20 short stories why was it necessary to insert her in books she never appeared in? Why?
What can we expect next, adaptations of Conan Doyle's historical novels with Brigadier Gerard accompanied by Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson?
"No it has just happened that I have found myself in the vicinity of murder rather more often than would seem normal." Jane Marple