Over the Cliff with Agatha Christie
Vote for Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? for Best New Drama, Will Poulter for Best Actor, and Lucy Boynton for Best Actress today and August 9th, so they can win the TV Choice Awards 2022!
I found myself standing outside of the cozy flat on Baker Street, glancing at the developed city around me. It was no longer “always eighteen ninety-five.” The pages have turned to a new era, a new setting, but not quite a far off genre.
My life in crime detection has been a short one, primarily occupied by my shadowing of Mr Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, often finding myself in the seat alongside the doctor’s. Continuous awe of the sleuth’s brain power, however, could not suffice if one wanted to follow in his footsteps. During my stay at 221B, I made this attempt to gather a spot or two of tips and tricks to benefit my own endeavors, often etched into my memory as quotations.
So, leaving Victorian London, I carried my intentions to try sleuthing independently. The location of practice was the coastal side of Wales, a place with an atmosphere not that strange to me.
The Agatha Christie cellar of adaptations opened to create a peak in its role in entertainment this year. We had an addition to the Kenneth Branagh collection, and a decorated case delivered by BritBox, inside of it some curiosities to try.
If I had to point out a common theme in the Sherlockian stories, it would probably be that of the young lady engaged or newly married, or the selfish father who’s interest focused on his daughters’ fortunes (SPEC and IDEN to name but two). Now if I had to find a similar theme within the bounds of the Agatha Christie works, I would compare it to the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse. They are set in about the same era of the 1930s, giving it the same sting of country homes, relatives, guests, and house servants.
A relatively friendly, lighthearted theme surrounds P.G. Wodehouse’s stories. But we are talking about Agatha Christie; so, take those characters who interact and associate with each other on a regular and not so regular basis, and add criminal motives. Now everyone is a suspect. Jeeves the valet has plans to take revenge on his employer Wooster, Wooster is planning for Aunt Agatha’s demise, and any member of the Drone’s club is destined to mess a fine criminal plot up completely.
“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light.” ~HOUN
Anywho, common themes become commonplace. Genius authors who have preceded us inevitably impacted today’s plotting of detective fiction and whodunit mysteries, helping us define and structure what these traditional genres are. And, there can be reasonable assumption that the continuous practice of creating these stories throughout the centuries have led to either cliché dullness or exemplary productions.
To demonstrate what a produced adaptation of exceptional quality is in today’s world of entertainment, I would like to return to that town in Wales — Marchbolt. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? may not have been a commonly praised or discussed work of Agatha Christie with Poirot and Marple around, but Hugh Laurie made it happen, recently directing a miniseries for BritBox this Easter. (Surprised that I mention Jeeves and Wooster now?)
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” ~BOSC
Firstly, let me say that the original story by Agatha Christie is not the usual detective fiction about a mysterious murder. Without any prior experience, two youths have turned to self-sleuthing, and only during their unofficial case they learn the skills of solving mysteries, influencing the risks and suspense throughout the adventure. A man’s final words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?” is the answer to the puzzles presented, yet we can only discover the truth at the end of it all. And like any explicated case, we can finally exclaim how absurdly simple the entirety seemed to be.
When one reads the book, imagination and deep thought does the work of intriguing and engaging our senses towards the story, of course providing that our perception of the text does not fail to please. As for the new show, starring Lucy Boynton as Lady Frankie Derwent and Will Poulter as Bobby Jones, waste no effort in attempting to construct vivid scenes in the mind — the aspects captured from performances to cinematography does the job for you.
“There is a mystery about this which stimulates the imagination; where there is no imagination there is no horror.” ~STUD
On the subject of book versus adaptation, Hugh Laurie followed the trail Agatha Christie left behind quite closely, except with sharpness and wit, he repaved the way with slight adjustments that significantly impacted the rising action, energy unmatched.
Scenes and ideas from the novel that may have caused conflict or sheer boredom were twisted into something unique and more appealing. The setting, the clothing, the cars, the houses and so forth held original stylishness of its time. The camera shots and soundtrack perfected the moods from beginning to end. Each characters’ appearance, dialogue, and personality were crafted intelligently for the series. Pieces as simple as having Dame Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent momentarily on screen livened things up a bit.
“It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles.” ~TWIS
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? has been adapted many times before, and its latest version could have easily turned into one of those repeats without vision; but, I suppose to share such a case to the public is to hold their interest with great regard and passion, resulting in a perfectly balanced novelty now sitting in the Agatha Christie cellar, there to become a classic on behalf of the estate, BritBox, and of course, Hugh Laurie and the entire team.