Agatha Christie’s best known detectives are Poirot and Miss Marple but far from their only ones. The 1983-84 series, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime followed the adventures of a lesser known detective pair Tommy and Tuppence (played by James Warwick and Francesca Annis).
Before the series began, an adaptation of the first Tommy and Tuppence novel The Secret Adversary aired as a telefilm and told of the first adventure of Tommy and Tuppence when they met after World War I in need of work and began their careers with an ad in the newspapers and found themselves involved case of international intrigue. The plot was superb with a lot of tricks and an amazing number of red herrings. The cinematography was great for the 1980s with a far better quality than the typical British TV show of the era.
The cinematography of the main series was more typical of the era which was a definite downgrade. The series finds a married Tommy and Tuppence taking over a detective agency and assuming the pseudonym of the jailed original owner of the Agency, Mr. Blunt while Tuppence pretends to be his confidential secretary, Miss Robinson. The stories are set in the 1920s and the producers do a great job creating a period feel, even on a limited budget. Annis carries the show in that regard, looking very much the fashionable 1920s woman in looks as well as her general manner.
The book upon which the series was based, was a bit of a tongue in cheek look at popular detective fiction and that feel comes through with several tips of the cap to the great detectives while maintaining a light feel to most stories. The pacing could be a bit slow with too much melodrama and lead to a resolution that was more than a little bit rushed. There were some great episodes in the series, but some stinkers as well. The best episodes in the series are arguably the last two, “The Case of the Missing Lady” (from a comedy standpoint) and “The Cracker” from a dramatic standpoint with “The House of Lurking Death” probably the weakest.
In the end, the series is worth watching because of the delightful performance of Annis and her chemistry with Warwick. While not a great show, like many other programs of bygone days, it will beat most of what’s on television these days.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5.0
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