As we wait for the increasingly likely news that Poirot will get one final season, there’s been no word on a possible renewal of Marple for a sixth season, and its third starring Julia McKenzie. I thought I’d just spare a couple of paragraphs to look at potential directions for the series.
Ratings have held steady since series three ranging from 4 to 6 million viewers per film (down from the first couple of series, but nevertheless on par with Poirot.) ITV – like all British networks – was uncertain in the last few years about period drama, as the genre’s popularity tends to vacillate quite frequently, and there was a downturn in the latter half of the decade. (The sad reason why we didn’t get a third in that series of wonderful serialised Dickens adaptations which gave us Bleak House and Little Dorrit.) That’s not to say that such things lose all attraction, of course, but networks do get in a tizzy about these things. Thankfully, with the rise of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, David Suchet has stated that he’s preparing for 5 final films as Hercule Poirot. However, Suchet still has 5 novels to go (more, as you’ll see by clicking on the post linked above) – McKenzie only has one novel left, so let’s have a think.
[THIS JUST IN: Looks like Julia McKenzie will complete the Marple novel canon, as the news has broken that we will get three further episodes to air in 2012 and 2013. Along with A Caribbean Mystery, there’ll be Endless Night and The Seven Dials Mystery. ]
- First up, obviously, there’s A Caribbean Mystery. I found it to be one of the greatest bores of the Hickson series and I’d love to see this one redone, although they’ll probably change Jason Rafiel’s name since they already did the novel’s sequel – Nemesis – a few years ago.
- Then there are the 19 short stories not filmed, originally collected in the UK in The Thirteen Problems, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Miss Marple’s Final Cases (and originally published in the US as… oh, you figure it out.) As series five‘s The Blue Geranium made clear, the writers are perfectly capable of expanding short stories to film length, so why not give it a go? Alternatively, as a Christie geek, there are two full series, of 10 x 1 hour episodes, right there for the taking!
- N or M? In series two, Anthony Andrews and Greta Scacchi guest starred as Christie’s lovable detective couple Tommy and Tuppence Beresford (previously played with much brio by James Warwick and Francesca Annis) in By the Pricking of My Thumbs. Why not bring them back to film one of the remaining two Tommy/Tuppence novels yet to be given the adaptation? (Perhaps they shouldn’t bother with the drab Postern of Fate, though, although I’d be up for it to see these characters’ canon completed.)
- The Seven Dials Mystery – another logical follow-up for the previously-filmed The Secret of Chimneys.
- Sparkling Cyanide and The Man in the Brown Suit – these are two novels that are not likely to get filmed on their own any time soon, and I think Marple could easily be inserted into them, in the manner of Towards Zero.
- Finally, The Lemesurier Inheritance – a very Holmes-and-Watson Poirot short story which was omitted from the earlier seasons of Poirot and will likely not be filmed. David Suchet, as a purist, may object, but I think it’d be nice to see the story done, since it will likely be many decades before anyone mounts another plan to film all Poirot’s short stories.