AMC Networks is going to be getting bigger, and better. Here's four great things coming to AMC Networks, and they all involve murder.
AMC Networks, owner of the eponymous channel that’s home to “The Walking Dead”, “Better Call Saul”, and “Preacher”, is working on acquiring RLJ Entertainment. RLJ owns Acorn TV and Urban Movie Channel, which means AMC is going to be getting bigger.
And offering more for their streaming customers!
RLJ has a huge library they’ll bring to the table. This means even more shows and movies that AMC customers will get to see through the networks bevy of channels.
The best part?
RLJ Entertainment owns 64% of the Agatha Christie Limited, the media rights and literary management company set up by the great author herself.
If this doesn’t excite you, here are four reasons why it should.
Long hailed as the murder mystery writer, Agatha Christie wrote sixty-six detective novels and fourteen short story collections.
Born in 1890, Agatha took up writing poems and short stories. It wasn’t until a cousin recommended a murder mystery that Agatha attempted to enter the genre. If there hadn’t been that one suggestion, the murder-mystery genre may not be what it is today.
Her writing style, use of tropes, red herrings, and characters have helped define what makes good murder mystery writing. She’s also credited with starting the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
Her works, though dated, have been adapted and many authors are updating them to reflect more modern writing styles. At least one lucky author, Sophie Hannah, has been given authority to continue writing Hercule Poirot mysteries.
Of her sixty-six works, three detectives stand out.
Tommy and Tuppence
The lesser known of her famous detectives, Agatha enjoyed writing Tommy and Tuppence novels the most. These Partners in Crime were her first detectives, and the duo aged with her.
Partners in Crime follow Tommy and Tuppence Beresford as they find themselves constantly getting involved with dastardly plots. The pair didn’t set out to solve crimes at first. Because there were no other jobs, they started up Young Adventurers Ltd. “Willing to do anything. Go anywhere…No reasonable offer refused.”
Those reasonable offers came with a mystery to solve.
While I haven’t read or watched any of the works, if its Agatha Christie, then I at least know it’s good source material. As for the adaptations of the works themselves, again, I’m in the dark here.
Given there have been multiple interpretations of the characters, it’s safe to say the crime-solving pair are entertaining to watch.
One novel was adapted into a silent movie in 1928 then a series of radio dramas on the BBC in 1953. The late Richard Attenborough provided the voice for Tommy too!
In 1984, Partners in Crime was finally adapted for the small screen. James Warwick and Francesca Annis took on the titular roles and reprised the roles again in 1985.
No new adaptations were made until 2005, this time in France. The names of the characters were changed, though the source material remained faithful to Christie’s original vision. In 2008, another French adaptation was made.
David Walliams and Jessica Raine took on the roles in the 2015 mini-series, Partners In Crime.
No news as to whether another adaptation is in the works.
Miss Marple seems to sit quietly in the background, knitting away.
This turns out to only be deception, as the elderly spinster is quietly observing, assessing, and analyzing everyone and everything around her. This is what makes her a remarkably effective sleuth.
The list of actresses who’ve played Miss Marple is practically a “whos-who” of classic acting; Gracie Fields, Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, Helen Hayes, Joan Hickson, and June Whitfield.
Most recently, Geraldine McEwan starred in the role in 2004 with Julia McKenzie assuming the role in 2009.
I haven’t had the chance to catch these adaptations, though I did see a stage production of A Murder is Announced when I was in college. Being a Division III school, they didn’t do too bad.
The most well-known of Agatha’s sleuths was Hercule Poirot (pronounced “pwa-ro,” it’s Belgian French).
If it wasn’t because of his skills as a detective, then it was most definitely the mustache.
The idea for Hercule Poirot is said to not been based on any one person. There is speculation, however, that a specific Belgian refugee who fled to England and settled in the countryside is the true catalyst for Agatha’s most notable detective. There’s another claim that he was based on two other fictional detectives of the time, Hercule Popeau, and Monsieur Poiret. And still, another that he was based on Sherlock Holmes.
The mystery of who really inspired Agatha Christie to create the character will remain. When it comes to who did the best job of portraying the character, there is less speculation needed.
Who's the Best Poirot?
From Charles Laughton to Hugh Laurie, there have been too many Poirot’s to list here.
In 2017 Kenneth Branagh stepped into the role for Murder on the Orient Express. Given the film’s high production budget and Branagh’s Shakespearean experience, the movie was amazing. Fun to watch, keeps you guessing (if you haven’t already read the book), and great performances by an all-star cast.
Yet, for me, the standard of Hercule Poirot will always be set by David Suchet.
True, Suchet’s mustache is more downplayed than Branagh’s. Branagh had the advantage of a big budget and having to only wear the titular facial hair for a relatively short time. Suchet, on the other hand, played the role for thirteen years. And yet, the mustache's even more endearing than Branagh’s.
The ear-to-ear handlebars that Branagh sports are impressive, but only from a production standpoint. From a character standpoint, it’s just a defining feature. Suchet’s is where it’s at. Though subtler, his mustache adds the dramatic flair that is Poirot. To keep that kind of facial hair going for that long takes a rare level of commitment.
To get into the mindset of such a literary behemoth, Suchet took character notes. By the end of his run, he had over 90 traits written down that made Poirot Poirot. Branagh only had to stay in character for a few months.
And that closes that case.
Find Agatha Christie
It’s unclear if AMC Networks will just air reruns of the great Christie works or if they’re going to create original content from them.
Given the recent resurgence in her work, I would hope they’d opt to remake some of her work. They could even go the Holmes route and update her characters.
If that were to happen, then Vincent Cassel would be my first pick to step into the role of a new Poirot. Of course, Dame Judi Dench would be great as Miss Marple. For Tommy and Tuppence, I’d name James Marsters and Lucy Davis. Hollywood may go a different direction, and they often do. It's not the first time I've been ignored by Hollywood.
And it won’t be the last.
The good news is that getting access to current Agatha Christie works is simple. First, look for the best internet and cable packages. This way you’ll save money and headache when it comes to watching all the shows and movies based on Agatha Christie’s books.
Second, get to a library or a bookstore and go find Agatha’s actual work. Every library is bound to have at least one.
Third, if reading a book isn’t your thing, then get the Overdrive app or any number of audiobook apps. There’s a few that offer free titles as well.
This way you’ll get to read Murder on the Orient Express, and others, before watching the movie. This will enhance your viewing experience.
Once you’ve read an Agatha Christie, then watch a movie or a show, then it’ll be no mystery why her work has lasted so long.