by Kathleen Costa
“Better With an English Accent”
Anglophiles living in the U.S. have for decades been at a disadvantage when trying to find UK movies and television programs. Oh, sure, you might see some recent episodes or movies on PBS or a few cable channels, but they are inconsistently available. Hurrah for AcornTV! This streaming subscription continues to be a reasonable monthly or annual fee with quality visual and audio presentations. It has provided me with an excellent and convenient way to see old favorites and new-to-me current and vintage programming. From dramas like Kingdom (Stephen Fry), Delicious (Dawn French, Emilia Fox), and The Good Karma Hospital (Amanda Redmond, Amrita Acharia) to mysteries like Murphy’s Law (James Nesbitt), Above Suspicion (Kelly Reilly, Ciara Hinds), and Murder in Suburbia (Caroline Katz), and comedies like After Henry (Prunella Scales), All in Good Faith (Richard Briers), and You, Me, & Them (Eve Myles), I can always find something very entertaining!
Agatha Raisin and the Best English Murder Mystery…Ever!
M.C. Beaton introduced her vivacious Agatha Raisin in 1992 with The Quiche of Death, and released this year is book thirty-two, Beating Around the Bush. The middle-aged PR exec retires to the Cotswolds, and due to some murderous circumstances, she turns amateur sleuth, then professional private detective. In 2014 (UK), Agatha was introduced to television with an eight-episode season one brilliantly cast with Ashley Jensen! It is now an AcornTV Original with four 90-minute telemovies (2018-19) and three more set for 2020…and it is a big-time favorite!
Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House earns 5+/5 Ghostly Apparitions…Delightful!
Agatha (Ashley Jensen) Raisin’s amateur status has been upgraded. She is now an official private investigator, and along with reconciling and partnering with her live-in lover James Lacey (Jamie Glover), she opens up her own agency in an old chapel decorated in over the-top London chic including plastic flamingos, bean bag “chill out” chairs, and a “distraction activity” slide…all Agatha! Unfortunately their business launch fizzles and thoughts turn to ways to garner publicity. Solve a mystery! Ivy Hall is rumored to be haunted by Sir Geoffrey Lamont murdered in 1651, and recently a number of unexplained paranormal occurrences have the current owner, Olivia Witherspoon, terrified for her life. The legend also includes rumors of a treasure hidden somewhere in the Hall. Idea! If they offer their services to solve the mystery, their success can be turned into a massive ad campaign and clients will start flooding in. Great. “Let’s go bust us some ghosts!”
Along with the search for ghosts and a fortune in treasure, the local village of Hebberdon is hosting the reenactment of the battle of Titley’s Knob. The town is filled with costumed Roundheads and Royalist, armed with pikes, swords, and overzealous enthusiasm. Sarah Bloxby (Lucy Liemann), the vicar’s wife, and Roy Silver (Mathew Horne), Agatha’s head of PR, are assigned the mission to check out villagers discovering that not many like Mrs. Witherspoon saying she may be more attention-seeking than victim of a haunting, but there’s an eager buyer for the not-for-sale Ivy Hall, disinherited daughter, estranged son, task-master reenactment director, and a pompous historian. So murder? Of course! Two? Why not! The PR for solving this case would be invaluable!
BRILLIANT! I am such a fan of Ashley Jensen’s Agatha Raisin…clever, snarky, vulnerable, over-the-top fashionable, and skilled at running in four-inch heels. The format has been expanded from nine 45-minute episodes in season one to four, three more in the works, 90-minute mini movies. The Haunted House telemovie kept the great Cotswold setting, another clever story with lots of suspects and maybe a ghost, motives from greed to jealousy to revenge, lots of covert sneaking around, personal peril, and an superb cast. I am again disappointed that Katy Wix, who played house cleaner/BFF Gemma Simpson, is again missing, but Jodie Tyack is joining the series as Gemma’s niece and an extra assistant with a photographic mind and clumsy antics.
This new telemovie is once again a marvelous addition to the franchise, loosely keeping to the character connections developed over the various episodes. But, don’t forget the novels on which the story was based. The plot for Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House (Book 15—2010) is a little different from the movie with some characters and relationships not included and others highlighted. It is more in-depth with several side stories and new characters, but it has the similar humor, snark, and mystery. From me, the books all get 5/5 PI Licenses for entertainment and wonderful characters.
Alert! In early 2020, AcornTV will air three more brand-new Agatha Raisin mysteries as part of season three all adapted from M.C. Beaton’s books: The Deadly Dance, The Love from Hell and And the Pig That Turned (novel As the Pig Turned).
Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House airs on Acorn on October 28. Learn more about Acorn shows and check out their free trial on their website.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. The last 3 episodes include black cats and ghosts and are perfect for Halloween listening!