‘The ABC Murders’ – BBC1

Spoiler warning: details about the murderer lie below!

Mustache-twirling Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is a beloved character in literature, in cinema and on TV. Recently he’s been re-imagined as a Hollywood action hero by Kenneth Branagh in a slightly strange but ultimately well-received version of Murder on the Orient Express. So now to the BBC’s Christmas drama schedules, a big part of which has been Agatha Christie adaptations by Sarah Phelps. Over the past few years she’s brought us Ordeal by Innocence, And Then There Were None and Witness for the Prosecution. Ginger and restrained adaptations are not Phelp’s style. How do you rip up the rule book but stay true to the source material?

It turns out all you need to do is wait. The passage of time makes characters different people, more fragile and sympathetic, more human. John Malkovich portrays the great detective as a weary yesterday’s man – the ying to David Suchet’s dapper and self-important yang. He’s dismissed as just another nosy parker by the young and very serious Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint). The world has moved on since Poirot’s celebrity heyday. This is all done in an extremely heavy-handed fashion as Poirot’s retired police pal Japp literally drops dead in front of him. Alright, alright, we get it – everyone is mortal. Poor old Poirot is lonely; in desperate need of a Scooby gang – despite first appearances he’s no good at coping with life alone and forgotten.

Enter the murderer who remembers Poirot at the height of his powers and wants to play a game. By letter he tells him he’s off to kill a series of people throughout the UK whose names start with each letter of the alphabet in turn and it’s up to Poirot to figure out the connection between the seemingly random victims stop him. What an effort from the murderous mastermind to troll Poirot pre-Twitter. Think of the expense in stamps alone!

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“Walking with Dinosaurs” – Nostalgia Trip

Guest blogger Jontosaurus takes us for a walk through his favourite prehistoric wildlife show…

The one problem I had with Jurassic Park and the army of sequels it spawned was simply the factual inaccuracy of it all. Sure, it is decent cinematic value for money to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex lay the smack-down on a car, especially when that car contains two screaming children- who, you know, would really have improved their chances of survival if they weren’t making all of that damn noise and drawing attention to themselves– but my main issue is that you didn’t learn anything. As a child, I was fascinated by dinosaurs, so much so that my idea of a fun day out was not to visit a theme park, but to go to a dinosaur museum or to visit the beach along our infamous ‘Jurassic Coast’ for fossil walks and fossil hunts. Yeah…I was THAT kind of kid. For me, the age of the dinosaurs was a fascinating part of natural history that I felt needed more attention and a whole lot more respect paid to it than an overblown (although undeniably enjoyable) Hollywood blockbuster could muster. In my opinion, we don’t need to plant a dinosaur in the centre of Manhattan in order to make people’s jaws drop- dinosaurs were awesome enough in their own right.

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