Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (2014)

Sky One's festive treat was this adaptation of MC Beaton's 1992 novel which introduced the world to her retired amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin.

I've never read the novels but I know that in casting Ashley Jensen, the folks at Sky have gone for a younger heroine than the novel's starting point of a 50 something woman. Whether that will be considered sacrilege to Beaton's readers I do not know but I will say they went all out in terms of casting, gathering together a host of familiar and likeable TV faces who could do this sort of thing in their sleep...and some of them seemed to be doing just that!

Essentially, you only need to look at the plot synopsis of this to know that it's Bridget Jones in Midsomer Murders and that will either mean fabulous or excruciating depending on the type of person you are. For me, it fell between the stools; it started off incredibly naffly showing Agatha on her last day at work in her high powered PR job diverting some One Direction alike band from disaster before retiring to her dream home in the Cotswolds. I think I cringed throughout the opening five minutes and nothing from those moments endeared me to the central character. However, once she arrived in the village it was amusing enough to spot all the fight out of water cliches - how having a dream doesn't mean you can fit the reality of it - and the familiar faces of the supporting cast, especially Robert Bathurst and Hermione Norris playing husband and wife once more so many years on from Cold Feet, and Katy Wix the true star of the BBC sitcom Not Going Out. Sadly once the necessary issue of the murder reared its head things started to unravel rather quickly and the whole thing became rather underpowered, running out of steam far too early. 

I also didn't really get how a successful professional like Raisin could turn into such a ditz overnight in her move from the city to the country, even though that character trait was most welcome. Jensen struggled gamely enough with the role but there was little in the script to make her totally likeable or three dimensional and the direction by TV film and mini series veteran Geoffrey Sax was flat and formulaic. Whether this will be a series of films for Sky I do not know. If that is the case then maybe they can iron out those character wrinkles to create something more satisfying, but overall I fear this is yet another misfire in her attempt at finding life after Extras.

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