Jan. 30th, 2011

almaviva90: (Captain Hastings)
As a rule, I love most adaptations of Agatha Christie's Poirot. Yes, even if some of them take a lot of license with the plot...I mean there were dozens of episodes where despite the fact that Hastings, Japp or Miss Lemon were never in the original stories, the screenwriters put them in anyway. And really, they did add to the atmosphere and the feel of the episodes which were decidedly Christie-ish.

With Cards on the Table which I must say is one of Christie's most mystifying and interesting novels, the screenwriter basically decided to turn everything on its head, throwing stuff out and then replacing it with stuff which is decidedly not Christie-ish. The premise of the plot is basically pitting four sleuths (which includes Poirot) against four criminals, the latter group all having murky pasts and a motive in killing their host who hints at his knowing a little too much about their past misdemeanours. They all sit down to play bridge; the four sleuths in one room, the criminals in the other where their host too has decided to sit next to the fireplace. By the time the evening is over, the host is murdered and it's up to the four sleuths to solve the case. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it? Yes, and even the screenwriter isn't content with leaving the basic premise alone...he has to go off and involve one of the sleuths who apparently also has a reason to kill the host (he also decided to change the name from Superintendent Battle to Superintendent Wheeler as if it wasn't enough for him).

But that isn't to say that the episode didn't have a lot of promise. The first half was actually quite faithful to the original material and seeing Poirot getting all uncomfortable with the horses in the stables (being the hygiene-freak that he is) was hilariously amusing. Alas, instead of following the path of sticking to the novel, we are instead led off another path into non-Christie territory where the culprit is later found out to be homosexual. Now, I have nothing against gay people...I believe that many of them are actually more talented than straight people (you need only to look at a list of them to see why I'm saying this, I mean look at the names here: Leonardo da Vinci, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Oscar Wilde, Stephen Fry...the list could go on). But changing a character who wasn't gay in the novel to one who is in the television adaptation is ridiculous. And I would understand the change if if added to the plot or made the mystery more mystifying but it didn't do any of those things. I mean, there was already a perfectly good motive in the novel for the person to have committed the murder but to change it to one which involved homosexuality (which was illegal in Britain, btw, until 1967)...come on, give me a break.

There are some who might argue that it's a understandable motive to put into an adaptation...true. The problem is that the motive that the screenwriter decided to use was, if you'll pardon the pun, never on the table ever with Agatha Christie. Her mentioning or involving homosexuality in her novels is as likely as getting a Michelin star dish at McDonalds...highly unlikely. Yes, she mentions 'queer' parties in the novel but that wasn't an excuse for the screenwriter to go overboard with the idea. And as if that wasn't enough, the writer decided to put a lesbian angle to the Anne/Rhoda relationship which was obviously just a friendship in the book. Also making Rhoda push Anne into the lake near the end instead of the other way round was quite bizarre. What was more bizarre was Anne being saved instead of Rhoda by Major Despard in the film and it was at this moment that I was literally mouthing the words 'WTF?' at my computer screen. Especially when you consider that Despard is supposed to marry Rhoda in the book, this switch is just inexplicable. Another thing which was inexplicable was making Mrs Lorrimer Anne's mother, causing me yet again to exclaim 'Now, I'm sure this wasn't in the book...'. What, did the screenwriter think the idea of Mrs Lorrimer trying to take the blame for Anne's sake merely because she pitied her too unbelievable in the book? And furthermore, Mrs Lorrimer doesn't get killed in the film, she ends up living...probably for the rather cliched reason of making the audience believe in forgiveness and the relationship between mother and daughter.

The episode is great if you haven't read the book (to be honest, the episode wasn't that bad albeit with all these glaring inaccuracies...thank goodness for David Suchet and good old British acting in general) but God, I advise watching this one with an open mind otherwise you might spend ages just ranting at the screen due to the 'genius' of the screenwriter.

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almaviva90

January 2012

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