The ABC Murders is the latest Agatha Christie tale to be told on BBC1, and after Ordeal By Innocence was delayed from last Christmas, and bumped to April this year, when it was told in weekly installments, we’re now back with nightly episodes, as this is broadcast over three nights.
John Malkovich takes the lead as John Malkovich playing Hercule Poirot… yeah, you know how he normally is.
Someone’s typing letters about loneliness, and how they are watching their victim… erm… no they’re not, they’re staring at their typewriter.
It’s London, 1933, and as the episode begins, a mysterious man known as Cust (Eamon Farren) has just rented a room and… he’s got a typewriter! And he also has a strange look about him that could make him the lead singer of an early ’80s pop music band.
Time is late in life for this Poirot, he’s just received the latest letter from ABC, and it requires the urgent attention of young Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint). All the previous ones he’s had are from different postmarks, and it’s not because he’s overstayed in the supermarket car park. One of these letters even begins, “Good morning”… Remember when you used to actually receive letters from the Royal Mail in the MORNING? Ah, those were the days.
We’re introduced to the potential victims one by one, who initially have the initials either A, B or C (since that’s how the alphabet starts), but his calling card is not only just that, but also a railway guide. His method for killing tends to be that anyone who ABC bumps off is someone who’s annoyed him in some way. Once those ABC murders are carried out, the setting goes back to earlier events to show how certain things tie in.
Crome is being difficult with Poirot, and doesn’t want the detective meddling in the investigation, but then that’s what Poirot does best.
While I quite enjoyed the first episode, things seemed to slow down after that, and there was a twist along the way which I didn’t see coming, although it was all feeling rather ridiculous to have to tie that one in. I won’t give any spoilers, though, and you’ll have to check out the series for yourself.
What might be considered even more of a twist is that, instead of sounding French, Malkovich sounds more like a combination of South African and Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo(!)
The rest of the cast are… fine, although Tara Fitzgerald rarely gets much of a role in anything these days. Her character is not one of the victims in this, but as hot as she is, the only roles she seems to get are ones for a character who looks like they’re near death!
The ABC Murders begins tomorrow night (Boxing Day) on BBC1 at 9pm, and then continues over the following two nights.
The series isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but you can watch each episode on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.
Episode 1: 7/10
Episode 2: 5/10
Episode 3: 5/10
Director: Alex Gabassi
Producer: Farah Abushwesha
Adaptation Sarah Phelps
Novel: Agatha Christie
Music: Isobel Waller-Bridge
Hercule Poirot: John Malkovich
Insp. Crome: Rupert Grint
Franklin Clarke: Andrew Buchan
Cust: Eamon Farren
Thora Grey: Freya Mavor
Megan Barnard: Bronwyn James
Betty Barnard: Eve Austin
Lily Marbury: Anya Chalotra
Donald Fraser: Jack Farthing
Lady Hermione Clarke: Tara Fitzgerald
Rose Marbury: Shirley Henderson
Sgt. Yelland: Michael Shaeffer
Sir Carmichael Clarke: Christopher Villiers
Alice Asher: Tamzin Griffin
Jenny Barnard: Lizzy McInnerny
Detective Bunce: Shane Attwooll
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.