Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The New Miss Marple

Although I think Margaret Rutherford was spunky and Angela Lansbury vigorous as two incarnations of Miss Marple, the overwhelming consensus is that Joan Hickson played the role true to the character as written by Agatha Christie.

I love Joan Hickson and when I think of Miss Marple, I immediately think of her. To me she is the quintessential portrait of how Miss Marple should look, behave, and speak. Watching Joan Hickson on television, just looking into those large pale blue eyes, harmless but oh so shrewd at the same time, was pure restrained joy. I grew up watching Joan portray one of my favorite British detectives of all time, and I adored every minute of it. The production values I thought were marvelous, the villages, the climate, the buildings, and the actors. Peter Davison in "A Pocketful of Rye", could you believe it? And could you believe that she was 86 years old or thereabouts when she retired from the role? She was spectacular.

Joan Hickson, as Miss Marple (photo from wikipedia)

Then along came Geraldine McEwan in a snazzy or jazzy new version of Miss Marple, complete with bold technicolor costumes, makeup, and haircolor as well as alittle bit of raciness absent from Hickson's era. They also changed things up alittle bit as to the storylines, and I wasn't sure how to assimilate all of that. It was just so different. But I had to respect that they wanted to do something different because, let's face it, they couldn't compete with perfection. They were creating a Miss Marple for the next generation, and I grew to like it. I heard that McEwan's productions were very well received and I can see why. They also invited another Doctor to participate in an episode - Tom Baker no less. I was sad to see that he didn't get as much air time as Peter Davison did in his episode, but alittle bit of Baker is better than none at all.

Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple (photo from daily mail)

Now McEwan has retired and a new actress is stepping into those sensible shoes. Julia McKenzie is the 7th screen Miss Marple, and she is rearing to go with the first episode announced to be "A Pocketful of Rye". I think it is set to film this year, and perhaps it has already been filmed. On IMDB, the cast list looks mighty nice with Fawlty Towers' Prunella Scales, Are You Being Served's Wendy Richard, and Helen Baxendale of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and Friends fame. I can't wait to see this new incarnation of both the character and the setting, the actress and the production values. If anyone knows when this is coming out on PBS or otherwise, please comment!

first look at Julia McKenzie as the new Miss Marple (photo from wikipedia)


Propr_Usage said...

I also felt that Joan Hickson was the quintessential Miss Marple. Her behavior was always exactly what you would expect of a well-brought-up young lady. She was reserved and polite. When she did speak, it was well thought out and concise. I will miss her.

Geraldine McEwan was a little too sparkly and flirty for Miss Marple. I did enjoy her in "Mulberry," though.

This new one, Julia something, is rather more sprightly and talkative. She's much more active in the detecting department than the books lead one to believe Miss Marple ever was. Also, she introduced herself as "Marple, Jane Marple." I couldn't help thinking "Bond, James Bond."

Geri said...

McEwan was indeed flirty (good description), which is a no-no for Miss Marple for sure.

Julia McKenzie (of the Blackbird Mines McKenzies perhaps? hehe) seems to be...what's the right word...more subtle than her predecessor, at least with regard to her facial expressions. The production as a whole seems to be more subtle as well, perhaps harkening back to the days of Joan Hickson where the quaint village was just that. Everything and everyone seemed a bit more demure, and it was a more relaxing ride I felt than the wild joy rides of the last few seasons. And they stuck pretty much to the story! Or at least to the Hickson era's interpretation of "A Pocketful of Rye".

Thanks for your post - totally didn't catch that "Marple, Jane Marple" bit. Need to see it again, and again! I did like this episode. Can't wait for next week! "Murder is Easy"...