Agatha Christie's Marple

Season 1 Episode 1

The Body in the Library

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Dec 12, 2004 on ITV

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
32 votes
  • Average only - too many discrepancies for a true Christie fan and the ending is largely unforgiveable, even if it a surprise. Glad they've revived the series, but could have been better.

    I was so looking forward to the new Miss Marple series (now modernised to Marple – who would ever have simply called a spinster lady Marple? I guess they could have called it Ms Marple which would have been worse!)

    There are some SPOILER elements in what follows:

    I was disappointed with The Body In The Library. It’s one of my favourite stories, and the crime behind it is wonderfully evil in its original design. It didn’t need tampering with to such an extent of changing one of the original murderers. OK, it was a surprise, and I was wondering why certain elements of the story were missing. I mean I know that Christie knew enough about the way of the world, and had a lot of ‘strong’ female relationships/companions in her stories, which you can read into what you will, I’m not sure she would have had the two women cavorting in so obvious a way.

    One of the beauties of Agatha Christie is that you know them so well if you’re a fan, and they’re a ‘comfortable’ way of facing some very horrible situations and solving a crime that’s never meant to be a CSI or Law & Order (which are both terrific in their own ways). She writes very amusingly in lots of her works (though you have to try to forgive some of the less PC language, which reflected the time she was writing in). I like little additions to the plots and perhaps making them new to a new audience, but writing completely different endings?? I wouldn’t completely agree with jbeauchamp17 about avoiding at all costs, but if you’re expecting a true representation of the novel, you’re not going to get it.

    I can just about take Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple, though she doesn’t seem quite frail enough somehow and doesn’t bring that primness and dotty disguise that others have. The character/performance I was most disappointed in though was Joanna Lumley as Dolly Bantry. I like Joanna Lumley and she acted well, but she wasn’t Dolly Bantry, the weary, worried, not-a-clue wife of the Colonel. I guess this was the scriptwriter’s fault more than anything.

    Close but no pipe tobacco…
  • Great (original) story, well acted, well filmed, great locations, authentic feel, the script-writer should be shot for his efforts.

    Don\'t get me wrong, I love Agatha Christie. I\'m not just some ordinary person who does not see the point why shows should be made in a 1920-1950 setting, and I love the Christie twists. That\'s why she is the Queen of Crime.

    However, any Christie fan would agree with me that this episode is an abomination. I was worried about the new actress portraying Miss. Marple, Geraldine McEwan. I didn\'t think that she could step in the same shoes as Joan Hickson. And, no, she isn\'t as good, however I was thoroughly impressed with her performance, and for that matter the performances of all of the cast.

    In fact it was a well put together story. So why the 3, you\'re asking? Well, it\'s all because of Kevin Elyot, the writer behind this movie. Agatha Christie would be turning in her grave if she knew what he did to her terrific novel. He has attempted to bring the Miss. Marple series into the 21st Century, first by removing the \"Miss.\" in the title. She is known simply as \"Marple\". That\'s manageable, but I ask you this; Why do we need to bring Miss. Marple to the modern world? And anyway, in order to bring Miss. Marple, sorry \"Marple\", into the 21st century, Kevin Eloyt has altered a major twist in the plot. If you don\'t want to know anymore, stop reading here, beacuse I feel that I need to explain what happened. He changed the relationships between the characters. Instead of woman 1 being in love with man 1, woman 1 is actually in love with woman 2. Not only does this change, but this also changes the identity of the murderer. How could you possibly change the identity of the murderer? That should be a crime punishable by death.

    If you are a Christie fan, avoid this film at all costs.
  • A New Marple!

    What a great start! Geraldine McEwan is so charming and sweet as the shrewd old lady we all love so much. I'm talking of course of Miss Marple. The supporting cast is magnificent. Joanna Lumley is funny as always as the side-kick. Jack Davenport ("Coupling") is fantastic as the Superintendent and had great chemistry with his investigation partner the fabulous Simon Callow who is truly amusing as Colonel Melchett. Tara Fitzgerald also delivers a great performance and Mary Stockley shines with her beauty and talent as Josie Turner. Only the great James Fox is wasted with little time on screen. A shame.
    The story grabs our attention from the start. The investigation moves along nicely with some funny moments and an always present mystery.
    Some people criticize the ending. Its not the same as in the book. Some consider it disrespectful. I had no problem with it. It brought some "fresh air" to the story. It surprised me while keeping the same "feel" and atmosphere of Agatha Christie's work throughout the episode.
    This is a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon or a cozy night with a great cast and a wonderful Miss Marple played by a truly great actress.
    Don’t miss it!
  • What matters is not so much that it's a travesty of the original, but that it's so unutterably lousy in its own right.

    Agatha Christie was a plot-maker with only the most superficial interest in human psychology and a great many offensively reactionary and snobbish opinions. So it need not necessarily be vexing that this series changes her stories so extensively, even if the ingenuity of the plotting is their chief virtue. After all, the movie of Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" greatly simplifies the plot and posits a new villain, whilst still improving on the book; and if fidelity to source were always a crucial factor, we'd have to prefer Michael Winner's version of "The Big Sleep" to the Bogart-Hawks classic. No, the real reason why this version is so excruciating is simply that it's so badly done on all levels. Kevin Elyot, who also scripted many "Poirot" episodes, is a really dreadful writer, whose new plot-twist is rubbish. One also has to say that several very distinguished actors give the worst performances of their careers, and so do Simon Callow and Jamie Theakston.
  • This episode had the opportunity for greatness. Too bad that the ending ruined everything.

    Up to a point, "The Body in the Library" is great. The script was true to the book, the cast was uniformly good, the visuals were stunning, and it had a lot going for it. Unfortunately, the writers decided that the classic Christie ending had to be changed for modern audiences. I won't tell you what happens, but let's just say that Agatha Christie is currently rolling in her grave. The change was completely unnecessary, and ruined the plot that had been planned out so meticulously in the book. I think that if this change had not been made, this episode might be on par with the Joan Hickson episode of the same name. But as it is, it remains at the "bottom of the barrel."

    Too bad the cast and director were given such a poor script. Their performances (especially that of Gerladine McEwan) belong in a much better series.
  • Got its problems...

    Agatha Christie is the world's number one mystery writer. She is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. So why do you have to change her endings?!?!?!?!

    The episode wasn't bad, the sets and acting were good, most of the dialogue enjoyable, and costuming flawless. It's only bad point: the killer was changed. I think this is an unnecessary addition, because Agatha Christie knew what she was doing and didn't write "The Body in the Library" so Kevin Elyot could come in and walk all over it.

    The current excuse is "We're trying to bring Miss Marple into the 21st century." The whole idea of Miss Marple is to go back to a bygone era, with the British uppercrust, afternoon teas in the pavillion, and country houses with more rooms then Baskin Robins has flavors. We don't need to "update" her. Now, don't get me wrong. I like a twist here and there, it keeps the story new for those who have read the book, but there's a twist and then there's mutilation.

    It isn't a bad episode, but could have been done much better.