tek's rating: ½

Ordeal by Innocence, on BBC One (UK) / Amazon (USA)
Agatha Christie Wiki; A.V. Club; BBC; IMDb; TV Tango; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon Prime

This three-episode series originally aired in the U.K. in April 2018. However, the first I heard of it was when Entertainment Weekly mentioned its being released on Amazon, in August 2018. The odd thing is, the magazine's blurb says it's "the first of a trio of Agatha Christie adaptations custom-built to captivate modern mystery fans." So... I've looked online to see if I could find any information about the next two limited series that EW was referring to, and I can't. What I did find was that before this one, there were two others (in 2015 and 2016), and all three series were written by Sarah Phelps. So I'm not sure if EW was referring to those (it wouldn't be the first time foreign shows or movies or other entertainments) were brought to the U.S. in the wrong order), or if it was talking about two other series that are still only in the planning or production stages. I'd say the former explanation is more likely, and in fact the two earlier series are available on Amazon already, and have been for some time... just not as part of a standard Prime package; to watch them there, you'd have to subscribe to Acorn TV. So... whatever. I've watched this one series for now. Maybe someday I'll see the others, maybe I won't. I suppose I should mention I've never read the book on which this was based, so I can't compare it. But I do know there have been some changes. All I can really say is, I thought it was okay. It's a bit hard to follow, because it keeps flashing back and forth in time. And for the most part, I didn't find it as interesting as I had hoped. But I liked the third episode the best, probably.

There's a wealthy woman named Rachel Argyll, who was murdered in her home on Christmas Eve, 1954. She and her husband, Leo (Bill Nighy) have five adopted children... well, they were children when adopted, but they're all adults, now. One of them, Jack, is soon arrested for the murder. However, his case never went to trial, because he was beaten to death in prison. Eighteen months later, Leo is about to marry his former secretary, Gwenda Vaughn (Alice Eve). None of Leo's surviving children are very happy about that. They include Tina, Mickey, Hester, and Mary. Mary is married to a man named Philip Durrant, who was crippled in the war. There's also a maid named Kirsten Lindstrom. On the day Leo and Gwenda are supposed to be married, a man shows up at their home, named Arthur Calgary. He says he's been out of the country for the past 18 months, so it's only recently that he found out about the murder. And he has come forward because he believes he can provide an alibi for Jack for the night of the murder. He's distraught to learn that Jack is dead, but he still hopes to be able to clear his name, posthumously.

Well... over the course of the three episodes, we learn, both in the present and in flashbacks, that there is a hell of a lot of drama and secrets among all the people in the Argyll family. And they all had their own reasons to hate Rachel, so if Jack really was innocent, then anyone in the household could be the real murderer. And I guess that's all I want to say about the plot. But by the end of the series, the secrets that are revealed do get fairly interesting.

limited series index