Category: Crime Series

And Then There Was None (2015 BBC One)

none5 Kernels

Streaming on Amazon is Agatha Christie’s creepy mystery – And Then There Was None.  The book, originally published in November of 1939, possessed what would be considered today an offensive title.  When released in 1939 in the United States, the title was changed to “And Then There Was None.”  Apparently, this is Christie’s best-selling novel and considered her masterpiece. Her talent in mystery storytelling is unsurpassed.

Of course, it is one of those tales that has been adapted multiple times on stage, film, and television.  As usual, I am way behind the times having never read the book or seen any of the adaptations.  Perhaps this is what makes this particular version astound me because of the great production and a fantastic lineup of actors – Charles Dance, Toby Stephens, Burn Goldman, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Maeve Dermody, Sam Neill, and others. From the opening scenes of the story, the mystery and foreboding of what lies ahead is expertly unfolded. Instantly, if you are unfamiliar with the story, you are drawn into the tale like those drawn to an island to meet their fate — you are hooked and can’t escape.

The story is about a variety of individuals who are invited to Soldier Island under various pretenses. Each invitation is sufficiently enticing to bring the group together consisting of eight men and two females. They arrive at a remote island off the coast of Devon, where they eventually discover they are stranded and unable to leave. Perched on a hill is a mansion owned by the mysterious Mr. Owen who invited each of the guests.  However, upon their arrival, Mr. Owen is absent and apparently will not arrive until the following morning. To add to the oddity of the situation, in each room of the house, there is a nursery rhyme of Ten Little Indians is framed and hanging on the wall.

The guests settle into their rooms and meet for dinner.  After dessert, a gramophone plays and loud speakers blare throughout the house the crimes that these ten individuals have committed by overtly killing or accidentally causing the death of another. They have arrived at their location to pay their due since their actions were unpunishable in the court of law. Of course, everyone denies their culpability except for one character, Philip Lombard.

The story is played out in two episodes filled with excellent performances.  By the end of the first, three individuaAidanls have met their fate, which naturally panics the remaining guests. They begin to suspect each other or the mysterious Mr. Owen who they believe is hiding in the mansion. Sitting as a centerpiece upon the dining room table are ten figures in a circle. Each time a guest dies, one disappears, leaving the number remaining in the house.

And Then There is None is now available on Amazon Video And Then There Were None [Blu-ray] or can be stream at this LINK.

I highly recommend this fantastic adaptation of a most intriguing story.  Agatha Christie is indeed the queen of mystery and crime. There are advantages in not having read the original work before seeing this version. I’ve seen some complaints it wasn’t true to the book in the end.

Nevertheless, it left a lasting impression upon my unsuspecting mind – especially Aidan Turner wrapped in a towel.  How do they expect the female audience to concentrate? We were all thinking, “and then there was no towel.”




Hinterland (2013 TV – Wales)

5 Kernels

Across the pond comes more amazing television drama—this time from Wales. Now streaming on Netflix is a four-part series entitled, Hinterland. Huh, you say? Well, Hinterland means —  “the often uncharted areas beyond a coastal district or a river’s banks.”

As you tune in, you will see the breathtaking landscape of Wales back country and be treated to intriguing murder mysteries and emotionally gripping characters.

As usual, we have the damaged head detective, Tom Mathias (played by Richard Harrington), who is akin to such other troubled characters like Wallander and Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect. However, this DCI is an emotional and compassionate man with a heart toward the suspects and criminals, tempered by the will to solve the crime.

Like so many other detective shows, his senior officer is a behind-the-desk dud, who constantly questions Tom’s tactics but ends up eating his words at the end of the episode. Tom’s team is made up of three assistants who have excellent skills in digging out the facts. Our main character fights his own demons of a failed marriage and two daughters who he never sees—the reasons for which are not clearly revealed. Living a life of isolation on a windy, barren landscape that overlooks the ocean, his time away from work is filled with depression and booze in his small mobile home in need of repair. His exercise regimen consists of running along the cliffs of the rocky coastline while he broods about his life and cases.

Hinterland is filmed in Aberystwyth, Wales, and all of the crimes take place in remote areas of the region. The scenery of the coast, rolling bare hills, and forests are breathtaking. It’s a harsh life of isolation and bad weather that keeps its characters cold and in coats for four episodes.  There is no green–only bare trees and brown landscape.

This series is topnotch because of the developed characters and deep emotional stories intertwined in the search for the murderer. Richard Harrington, in his role as the brooding DCI, is a man who takes his job seriously, but with a hint of compassion even for the killers—that is if the reason for their temporary insanity comes from their own painful past. Harrington has been nominated for best actor for the Bafta Cymru awards for Welsh film and television.  The show itself has gained nine nominations, which are well deserved.

Unfortunately, only four episodes are streaming.  It’s far too short. Hopefully, this series will continue for many more seasons. The Welsh are giving the British competition.  I don’t care what anyone else says, because some of my closest friends and I agree that no one does murderous crime better than the United Kingdom when it comes to television.

If you’re looking for a deep characters, intriguing mysteries, and emotional endings, check it out.  It’s a good series.

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