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Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime
Score: 89%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Acorn Media
Region: A
Media: Blu-ray/2
Running Time: 335 Mins.
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/TV Series
Audio: English DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English SDH

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Costume Design
  • An Interview with Clarke Peters
  • Photo Gallery

Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime reinvents one of Dame Christie's lesser known crime-solving duos in this updated version of The Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries. Although the books themselves take place in the 1920's (as does the series we previously reviewed), this series has the British couple's stories set in the 1950's, where the Russian menace is not Bolshevik in nature, but is set firmly in the ever-growing Cold War.

The first mystery, The Secret Adversary, introduces us to Tommy (David Walliams, Britain's Got Talent) and Tuppence Beresford (Jessica Raine, Call the Midwife) as they are traveling back to their modest home in London from Paris. Honestly, my first introduction to Tommy had him coming off as an inconsiderate dolt as I watched him lovingly cradle a tiny cardboard box while his adorable and long-suffering wife Tuppence struggles along the train platform carrying about 6 bags of luggage. However, my image of the couple would soon change.

Tommy has acquired a prized queen bee (the box's contents) in the hopes of spurring his newly created honey-making business. Tommy and Tuppence are joined on the train by a very nervous young woman named Jane Finn (Camilla Beeput) who secretly slips a small wrapped parcel under the bee jar as Tommy is showing her his prize. She then disappears, leaving a book behind, and while mystery novel-obsessed Tuppence is sure she hears a gunshot and a scream, Tommy remains unconvinced. The couple later discovers that the young woman has gone missing and they hold the only clue to her disappearance - her forgotten book.

Tommy's uncle, Major Carter (James Fleet) works for British Intelligence, while his nephew couldn't be less suited for the job. However, as a team, he and Tuppence are actually pretty good, even though they blunder through the first mystery, barely escaping with their lives at times. Throughout this adventure, they'll meet Julius Hersheimmer (Clarke Peters, The Wire, Treme), an American millionaire and Jane's uncle; a glamorous opera singer named Rita Vandemeyer (Alice Krige, Silent Hill); plus some rather dangerous types who are quite rough. Of constant help is an old school chum of Tommy's named Albert (Matthew Steer), a mad scientist type who teaches science at a grade school and actually works in intelligence with Carter, as Tommy will soon learn. He makes a great addition to the team, popping in and out with great devices and ideas - sort of the group's "Q" from Bond, if you will, but much funnier and with much less polish.

Whether he wants it or not, Major Carter will need to enlist Tommy and Tuppence to help because a deadly Russian assassin named Mr. Brown is in town and the pair have stumbled upon a plot that could have worldwide repercussions. And he has to admit, they are pretty crafty. Can they find Jane Finn and save the world at the same time?

The second mystery, N or M? finds the pair's honey-making business floundering and they are starting a wig company (are you sensing a theme here about a lack of business sense with the Beresfords?), once again naturally seeking investment money from good old Uncle Carter. Instead, he sends Tommy to the opera to get a secret message from another intelligence agent (unbeknownst to Tuppence), but everything turns belly up due to a name mix-up at the theater. When the man is later viciously gunned down trying to once again meet with the pair, he utters a clue - N or M - and neither Tommy nor Tuppence is sure which he said.

In order to discover the nature of the clue, Carter then sends Tommy to a lovely seaside hotel called Sans Souci where a dangerous Russian spy is said to be lurking. This spy has kidnapped a nuclear scientist, and also stolen along with him the man's work - a newly-created bomb that will devastate parts of England should it be detonated... and of course, that is just what will happen if certain demands are not met, including the release of some 30 Soviet spies. Tommy isn't allowed to say a word to Tuppence, or anyone else, so Tommy fabricates a story about a wig convention, but clever Tuppence has overheard the whole thing and not one to be left at home, shows up herself under an alias at the hotel to work the case on her own.

The hotel contains lots of likely suspects. There's the mysterious Major Khan (Alyy Khan), a dark and handsome military man with a shadowy past; the blonde and beautiful Mrs. Sprot (Caroline Cole), a divorcee with her roving eye on Tommy who is masquerading as Meadows, a bird watcher; Mr. and Mrs. Minton, quirky psychologists who seem to analyze everyone they speak to; Commander Haydock (Roy Marsden), a crusty old military sort who puts Tommy's fake backstory of bird watching to the test; a young rogue named Carl Denim (Ed Speleers) who flirts mercilessly with Tuppence posing as Mrs. Blenkensop, a recent widow; and finally there's the hotel proprietor and the cleaning lady, Ms. Sheila Perenna (Aoife McMahon) and Veronika Urbanowicz (Pinar Ögün). The hotel is ripe with intrigue and mystery, but can Tommy and Tuppence put aside their marital quibbling to work together to find the Russian spy? Each has their own ideas about who it could be, and the revelation and explosive ending definitely left me wanting more stories for this pair.

While it took me a bit to get into the first mystery, the second had me on the edge of my seat not wanting to turn it off. I love the banter between David Walliams and Jessica Raine as husband and wife. They are truly adorable together and make you want to watch to see what happens next. The costumes are fantastic (and there is an entire featurette discussing them, although I couldn't believe no mention was made of Rita Vandemeyer's costumes, which were breathtaking) and Tuppence wears her outfits and natty hats with such style. I enjoyed the interview with veteran actor Clarke Peters and it was fairly long and detailed, as was the behind the scenes featurette on the making of the show. Of course, there's also a photo gallery.

While it doesn't have the hard edge that some British mysteries have, Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime is a lighthearted mystery with a thoroughly charming couple at it's center. Here's hoping the show is popular enough to warrant more of the mysteries being produced.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins
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