This dramatization of Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders on Amazon Prime is killing me. I recently re-read this book, and it's a breezy, fun, cozy puzzle, just a couple of shades more "adult" than the Bobbsey Twins: in other words, it's great, a total success, and thoroughly enjoyable if easily forgotten (which only means you can enjoy reading it again one day if you like.) It doesn't waste a lot of time on atmosphere or deep backstory or complex characterization, but that's no great flaw: what little there is of that sort of thing does the job of populating and dressing up the plot, which is clever, and which indeed is all its readers have cared about for the past eighty years or so. And it's a truly impressive feat of economical writing that so much can be, and has been, done with so little actual ink on the page. It's a deftly-structured story, well and simply told. This is the recipe that produced the most successful and best-loved oeuvre in twentieth century publishing and it's not hard to see why. By contrast, this thing (like many such adaptations, but further round the bend than most) is suffused in sententious darkness and perversity, resulting in a preposterous, unintentionally comical attempt at a grim, existential psychodrama. It's like Poirot meets the Saw, with a dose of Taxi Driver, Reservoir Dogs, and For Whom the Bell Tolls thrown in just in case you might start to notice the plot too much. (Which is in there, somewhere, though buried deep in all the nonsense.) Plus: BDSM. In short, I have never seen anything less Christie-like, and I've seen 'em all. I don't know why they always try to do this. Hercule Poirot as written is, it's true, a bit cartoonish and silly, but the "heavy" Poirot, it turns out, is approximately 100 times sillier. And more cartoonish too. The best AC adaptations, in my opinion, by the way, are the Sidney Lumet film starring Albert Finney, and the 1980s Miss Marple BBC series starring Joan Hickson. They work, largely, by not trying to "get above themselves," eschewing any attempt at "gritty realism" and grand, important, up-to-date, "relevant" themes. It is genuinely difficult to imagine anyone enjoying this one. I will say, though, that the flashback denouement (present in no wise to any degree in the universe of the book needless to say) is truly a surprise. It seems there's always a deeper end to go off, if you really are determined to go off one. A remarkable turn. So be sure to watch it to the end: it'll blow your mind. #TV #agathachristie #literature #kvetching #minds

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