Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is the final installment of series 4 of Miss Marple, and I quite enjoyed it. Haven't read the book (yet), so I'm not sure how it compares to this film - especially since the book isn't a Marple novel - but I'll rectify that situation shortly. :) Here's the story summary from the PBS website:
Bobby Attfield finds a man near death sprawled out on a cliff. His final, enigmatic words — "Why didn't they ask Evans?" On a whim, Bobby and his friend, socialite Frankie Derwent, decide to investigate. The amateur sleuths, along with Miss Marple, uncover several enticing clues — a hotel room key, a pipe and a map with the Savage Castle circled. Getting into the castle under false pretenses, the trio meets a cadre of shadowy characters — the widow of loathed businessman Jack Savage, his two teenage children, a handsome piano teacher, a psychiatrist and his delicate wife. Before long, Bobby and Frankie's playful inquiry turns even more deadly. Amid a backdrop of poisonous snakes and exotic but lethal orchids, will the three decipher the dead man's final words before they are exposed?
This movie is a bit of a Harry Potter fangirl's dream, as Sean Biggerstaff, a.k.a. Oliver Wood (!!), stars as Bobby Attfield, thrust into a dangerous web of intrigue and murder when he discovers a dying man sprawled out on a cliff. I thought he was a cutie in the first and second Potter films (Hey he's only 3 years younger than me! LOL!), but I've got to say he's aged well. Just sayin'. :) Georgia Moffett plays opposite Biggerstaff as his friend and possible romantic interest, socialite Frankie Derwent. I almost didn't recognize her with dark brown hair, but it turns out she played in one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes as Jenny, the Doctor's daughter. She also dated David Tennant - don't know if that's still going on - so by any estimation I should hate her guts (*wink*), but I really liked the spunk she exhibited playing opposite Biggerstaff. It's a lot of fun to watch the way Frankie and Bobby needle each other throughout this film, always dancing around their attraction to each other. (BTW, I just have to point out how adorable it was when Bobby gets dressed up in a tux and rides his bicycle over to Frankie's party, only to leave without announcing his presence - that was such an "awww" moment. :)
This film also has a 2nd Potter connection - Mark Williams, who plays Arthur Weasley, plays Claud Evans, orchid aficianado, who meets a rather grisly end. And then there's a 3rd, more distant Potter connection - Rafe Spall, son of Timothy Spall - a.k.a. Peter Pettigrew - plays the mysterious piano playing Roger who vies with Bobby for Frankie's affections. This brings up an interesting point - why on earth would Rafe Spall be a serious contender against - well, ANYONE else?! I don't get it. *rolls eyes* Oh, and I can't forget to mention Richard Briers as Wilson (a sort of butler I guess??). Briers is a veteran of several Kenneth Branagh films, including Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, and Love's Labours Lost.
Now, I enjoyed this episode, but I have to admit it gets a little looney towards the resolution. Not only does the reveal go on forever, but as far as Agatha Christie goes the whole China subplot seems more than a little far-fetched. I could be going out on a real limb here but I think I'm going to discover the film rewrites a great deal of the original novel. In fact - this may be a case where it turns out that inserting Miss Marple's character into a non-Marple novel actually takes away from the punch of the story. While I enjoyed Julia McKenzie's portrayal of Jane Marple in this episode, and by the end of the ep I thought she interacted quite nicely with Bobby and Frankie, her presence wasn't absolutely necessary. Bobby and Frankie had a kind of Tommy and Tuppence chemistry, a whole lot of fun to watch on their own.
Book review coming soon. Overall, series 4 of Miss Marple has been enjoyable - not quite up to the standard set by the Geraldine McEwan years, a bit hit-or-miss, but there are enough enjoyable moments that I hope a series 5 is commissioned. I'd hate to see Miss Marple disappear from the Masterpiece Mystery roster. :)