The ABC Murders (2018, Amazon Prime): John Malkovitch is a fine actor. Sadly, he is 30cm too tall, very not Belgian, his accent fades in and out even in the same scene, and wouldn’t shave down to a moustache, instead keeping a slightly scruffy Van Dyke which he ridiculously dyes in the first ep. Perhaps they should have done an animated Hercule Poirot show, and got him a Belgian voice coach.
Inspector Japp dies after a brief cameo (spoilers for plot-irrelevant elements, oh no), the new guy is awful and hostile, and there’s no Arthur Hastings at all, so too many scenes are literally Malko-Poirot sitting alone silently waiting for the mail, instead of explaining his reasoning. No mention of his little grey cells, and even his background as gendarme is questioned with a ludicrously melodramatic new backstory which adds nothing to the plot. ABC is quite well played by Eamon Farren, the rest of the cast is forgettable.
I like the original story, and wish I’d just reread it instead of seeing this farcical reimagining.
Ordeal By Innocence (2018, Amazon): A non-detective murder mystery. First it has to get over a big hurdle with me: It’s about a rich English family, and I loathe everything about that. The father’s the epitome of what most disgusts me about Humans, but there’s also the thug son, the asshole son-in-law, the simpering daughter, the utterly forgettable daughter, the meek black daughter (for they are all adopted, it turns out), the gold-digging secretary, and the maid (who is apparently also an orphan, but not adopted? Well, English need someone to do the dirty work; and what you expect in an English manor is what goes on in an English manor), and the mother who was a harpy, until someone killed her.
Jack, the son accused of murder, seems like the only half decent one, but he’s not around. And then an alibi shows up to distress everyone. Casting’s pretty generic, tho they had to reshoot every scene of the original thug son with a new actor after the first was accused of sexual assault; but that doesn’t matter much since almost every scene is two assholes leaning in doors or sitting straight in uncomfortable chairs sniping at each other.
The dead mother is increasingly shown to be worse than a harpy. You know Harry Harlow’s monkey experiments with the wire mother and terrycloth mother? This woman’s a wire mother. Functional but unloveable. I know the feeling.
There’s a theme of fear of nuclear war, but until quite late it’s never discussed, only mentioned in passing. This would’ve greatly enhanced the show if it was. And John Wyndham’s book The Chrysalids, which is of course about nuclear war, family secrets and betrayal, rejection of the outsider and mutant.
This presentation has the awful habit of showing spoilers for the next episode over the credits, so skip forward as soon as one ends.
I don’t recall this book at all, so it’s somewhat of a mystery to me, but I also don’t feel sympathy for any living character so don’t care if they all did it.
The final scene’s a little ridiculous, out of character, and unnecessary after the actual finale a minute before. Some producer had to piss in the soup to say he contributed, I expect.
★★★½☆ — I complain a lot, but I watched it in one sitting. Still hate everyone except dead Jack.