'Les Petits Meutres D'Agatha Christie' is a French series that adapts loosely Agatha Christie's (often nicknamed The Queen of Crime for good reason, she has always been one of my favourite authors) work and is essentially Agatha Christie with a French light comedy twist and a "spoonful of French flair". On its own terms it is fascinating and charming light-hearted entertainment with intriguing stories, while not straight up faithful adaptations or definitive ones like the best of the Joan Hickson Miss Marple and David Suchet Poirot adaptations it hardly disgraces Christie either.
"Un Cadavre Sur L'Oreiller" is not quite one of the best of the series, but it is a pretty good one with more than enough of what makes 'Les Petits Meurtres D'Agatha Christie' an entertaining and well done watch. It uses one of the best (my favourites being 'A Murder is Announced' and 'Sleeping Murder) Miss Marple stories 'The Body in the Library' as a loose basic frame-work, and does it quite well. Briefly saying, this Christie was previously adapted twice, one with Joan Hickson, which was very good if a little slow at times, and the other with Geraldine McEwen, which disappointed and was most memorable for an ending so insulting it would make one want to throw something at the television. If we were to judge "Un Cadavre Sur L'Oreiller" as a version of the story, regardless of whether it's faithful or loose, it would be placed second best by me.
The pacing in "Un Cadavre Sur L'Oreiller" could have been more consistent, parts drag a little. With more tension in some of the storytelling, with a little more freshness put into a few of the red herrings and tighter direction, this would already have been improved.
After the previous few episodes had improved significantly on the handling of the comedic elements, they occasionally felt overdone again here.
With all that out of the way, there is a huge amount to enjoy. It looks lovely as ever, the period detail and scenery are lavish but a great job is also done evoking a sinister enough atmosphere when necessary. The vibrant but never over-saturated or garish colours, that could be quite atmospheric, and stylish photography complement beautifully. The music matches the light-hearted and at times very atmospheric tone very well. On the most part, the writing is thoughtful and intriguing with the right amount of entertainment value. As said, some of it needed to calm down but didn't feel much staleness here. The mystery is still clever and very sophisticated with no dumbing down or over-convolution, the denouement is still ingenious even with some playing around but in a way that was fresh and still respectful. Furthermore, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep one on their toes and guessing, even if some of it is on the conventional side. Any brutality is not overused, abused and gratuitous.
Characterisation has come on a long way, much more depth and distinction since the series first started. The pairing and contrast of Larosiere and Lampion are fascinating, with Larosiere having always been more interesting and developed and Lampion more likeable. Found this to be one of the episodes where Larosiere was easiest to root for, with him being in a situation that, regardless of the outcome not being surprising, makes one hope that nothing bad happens to him. The acting is solid, still get a lot of pleasure from watching Antoine Dulery and Marius Colucci, individually and especially together. Mata Gabin is indeed a knockout.
In conclusion, pretty good. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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