Agatha Christie's Marple

Season 4 Episode 2

Murder Is Easy

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Sep 13, 2009 on ITV
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Episode Summary


Miss Marple meets an elderly woman who is convinced that a multiple murderer is at large in her village. Before she can report her concerns, however, Miss Pinkerton is killed in a fall, and Miss Marple determines to find out who the killer is. Visiting the village, she befriends Luke Fitzwilliam, a former policeman, and the pair work to establish the killer's identity against the backdrop of a local election.


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  • They murdered Christie's plot!

    I have to admit, I find it irksome when scriptwriters take a book and twist it all over the place in adapting it for a movie or television show. On the other hand, I'm aware of the difficulty of compressing a book's plotline into the confines of a one or two hour show. On the third hand, I'm aware that it can be done, especially with old mysteries that tend to be fairly short. The superb "Nero Wolfe" series on A & E proves that it can be done. That said, I have to say that I don't really mind certain changes, such as substituting Miss Marple for the character of ex-colonial police officer Luke Fitzwilliam in this episode. I also didn't mind Luke's character being substituted for an American computer programmer in the far superior version starring Bill Bixby. However, I've noticed, in these newer remakes, a distressing tendency to add what I call "The Sleaze Factor". Agatha Christie wrote fine, genteel mysteries in a unique style, and she must have done something right as she is still one of the most popular authors in the world. But the more recent scriptwriters seem to think that she needs "kicked up" by adding nice juicy slabs of scandal to otherwise quite inoffensive characters. In this show, for example, the well-known, well-liked Dr. Humbleby, who in the book does not appear to have an enemy in the world, here has a sleazy background, apparently added for the purpose of increasing the murder motivations. Another character, who is apparently desperate to hide the fact that he is having an affair with a local maid, chooses to not only embrace said maid at a gathering following Humbleby's funeral, (which could be explained away as giving comfort in a sad situation) but also gropes at her bottom, right where anyone, not just Miss Marple, could see it. That's just the way to hide an affair from a small, close-knit community!

    But this episode goes much further than unnecessary sleaze and alterations in characters. It completely changes the motivations for the murders, thereby destroying what I consider one of Christies' finest, most fiendish plots. If they were going to do that, they might have just as well written an original storyline and left Christie alone.

    I had some warning when I found that fragile, dainty Lavinia Fullerton is replaced by a blowsy, vulgar looking middle-aged woman. I suppose that they didn't think it would look right for dainty Miss Marple to meet another dainty old lady--personally, I think that it would have been very clever. The woman relates what she thinks is going on to Miss Marple, finishing up with the line, "As long as you get away with it, murder is Wow. How profound. We really ought to all write down that bit of wisdom. The woman promptly gets tossed down an escalator--after seeing the murderer behind in her, in an incredibly stupid move. Anyone on the escalators might have seen the killer's actions. More to the point, falling down an escalator is rarely fatal. What was the killer going to do if the victim survived? Go down and kick her in the head for all to see?

    The point that Miss Lavinia Fullerton made had far more significance: "As long as nobody suspects you, murder is That is the crux of Christie's elegant plot. The killer had no direct reason for wanting any of the murdered people dead, so even if their deaths had not been considered accidents, absolutely no one would have even considered the killer a suspect. Christie's killer was a person of ice-cold malevolence, and endless patience. The seeds of the plot were sown literally decades previously, when a young man jilted a young woman. Even though he gallantly allowed people to think the jilting was the other way around, the woman nursed her grievance through the long years, slowly and carefully arranging her plot. She kept on cordial terms with her victim, and patiently nurtured his ego, so that the rather self-centered young man turned into a middle-aged man who believed that he was so far above and beyond the common herd that he thought that Fate, or even God Himself, was taking a hand in removing the irritating little bumps in his otherwise smooth path through life. If Luke, aka Miss Marple, had not taken a hand, no doubt the killer would have eventually dropped some very subtle hints suggesting that the rash of accidental deaths in the community were not accidents at all, at which point a proper investigation would have led straight to her victim, who would have pleaded that it was Fate that had killed the people who had crossed him. The poor man would likely have ended up in an asylum--vicious revenge indeed for a decades-old jilting.

    So what do we end up with here? The killer indeed has a direct and personal reason for killing the people, namely, her frantic attempts to conceal a very sad, very sordid scandal from the past involving incestuous rape, fratricide and an unwanted baby, all of which could have been avoided if she had simply moved away and made a fresh start somewhere else.

    I had only seen a few of these Marple mysteries up to this point and have been disappointed in all of them, namely because of the sleaze. After seeing this episode, I gave up. No doubt some of them may be decent adaptations, but the thought that some might even be worse than this one is just too much.moreless
Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch

Luke Fitzwilliam

Guest Star

Shirley Henderson

Shirley Henderson

Honoria Waynflete

Guest Star

Anna Chancellor

Anna Chancellor

Lydia Horton

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions