Codes and Alibis
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 07/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having had her life saved by Lord Peter Wimsey has been a mixed blessing for Harriet Vane. Not eager to cope with his obvious affection for her, she opts for a walking tour of England. On her way to Wilvercombe, a vacation spot for the slightly doddering, Harriet stops on the beach for a picnic lunch and a quick nap. She wakens to discover the tide coming in and a recently dead body with its throat cut on the nearby rocks. Fortunately, Miss Vane, like all good tourists, has brought her camera, and so is able to take pictures of the scene before the tide washes everything away.Once Harriet has reported to the police, she succumbs to a writer's need for publicity, and leaks an exclusive to the London press. The resulting todo brings Lord Peter to the scene, prepared, with his usual combination of good manners and light-hearted banter to save the day if it needs saving. The police believe the death (of a local dancer) is suicide, but Lord Peter suspects murder. Various plot twists ensue and before long Vane and Wimsey have teamed up to solve what is a particularly devious and repellent crime.As books, I prefer 'Have His Carcase' to 'Strong Poison,' and the same thing is true to of the BBC productions. This, the second novel in the developing romance between Harriet and Peter, is a much livelier story, from both a plot and a character standpoint. Sayers goes to a great deal of trouble to invent an archetypical British coastal town and people it with an entire cast of remarkable characters. The video manages to bring much of this to life without large quantities of ornate scenery or excess production. This is in contrast to 'Strong Poison' where we are constantly distracted by a historically correct 1930's London. This is a much cleaner performance.In addition, both Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter have settled into their parts and deliver smoothly over a range of contexts. I still do not feel that Richard Morant's Bunter is quite right, but at least I have grown used to it. Good work comes from all, especially the actors who play the Weldon's, Jeremy Sindon and Rowena Cooper. Once again, however, director Christopher Hodson has given in to the need to muck with the ending to provide a romantic segue into the next in the series, 'Gaudy Night.' Sayers developed the Wimsey/Vane relationship in a very controlled fashion and I greatly dislike Hodson's unnecessary tinkering for little purpose. So this video also receives four stars where it should have risen to five."
As My Whimsy Takes Me
hoegerbooks | Santa Clara, CA USA | 05/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never thought I'd see this series again, but miracle of miracles, The Powers That Be have released it and on DVD, no less! I first saw these episodes on PBS in the late eighties when I was entering junior high school. I've been watching those Friday night mystery programs on PBS for as long as I can remember, and no one can top these three adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayer's three most popular Wimsey novels: Strong Poison, Have His Carcass, and Gaudy Night. Absolutely brilliant performances by Edward Petherbridge as my quintessential Lord Peter and Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. I hope that now this much-loved series will receive the long-awaited praise and recognition it richly deserves."
One of THE BEST TV Series Ever Made!!
Jeeves | 06/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Edward Petherbridge is brilliant!!I recently acquired these DVD's (Strong Poison/Have His Carcass/Gaudy Night) and they are now my most treasured set. The performances by Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter are flawless! This series is a MUST HAVE for all mystery buffs (especially Dorothy Sayer's fans!) For those who were disappointed in the Ian Carmichael series produced 10 years earlier, take heart--you have now found the answer to your prayers!My only criticism is that there were no more titles produced in this series. I can't understand why they did not continue to make more of these wonderful productions. And furthermore, I can't understand why the BBC took so long to release this series onto Video/DVD. If I had known of the existance of this series sooner, I would have launched a campaign to demand that they make more episodes. Oh well...I guess we will just have to make do with the three gems that were made. (In fact you should probably buy two sets of these, as you may wear out your original DVD's from watching them over and over and over and ...ahem...oh yes back to the review...)The first two films, Strong Poison and Have His Carcass, are faithful to the books and each is truly a pleasure to watch. The third, Gaudy Night (or "Gaudy Lite" as I have seen it referred to) skimps a bit in comparison to the novel. However, the extraordinary acting on the part of Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter more than makes up for this, ensuring that this version of Gaudy Night is a highly entertaining one. This series should have segued into "Busman's Honeymoon." However BBC dropped the ball on obtaining the rites and left us all hanging.Perhaps it isn't too late for a continuation of this series after all. It has ONLY been 16 years since the last episode. Surely if Ian Carmichael could have the audacity to play Lord Peter Wimsey at his age, Edward Petherbridge could pull it off for at least another 20 years or so (and do it brilliantly I might add!)Needless to say, I have become an instant fan of Mr. Petherbridge and can only hope I may find more of his work on film. (This is a daunting task since this distinguished stage performer seems to shy away from the camera. Something about acting for the love of the thing and not the money. Oh these serious actors!! By the way, isn't he WAY OVERDUE for some sort of Knighthood or something ...hmm??!!)WARNING: Ordinary television will seem even more unsatisfactory after viewing these DVD's. As I said before, you'd better get at least two copies of each of these DVD's (or to be on the safe side, you'd better make it three!!)(NOTE: It seems that the UK version of the DVD's contain an interview with Edward Petherbridge as a bonus feature. Unfortunately for me, the American version does not. You lucky Brits!!)Enjoy!"