TV Crime Log: Mad, Marple

imagesSky’s Mad Dogs, which bows out with a two-part finale starting tomorrow, has been something of a banker for the network.

A kind of Prison Break for middle-aged men, I don’t think anyone imagined it would last for four, increasingly surreal and bizarre series, over the course of which its four protagonists have lived a perpetual nightmare. Mad Dogs is that rarity in British television – a drama unashamedly aimed at a male audience. If you like British gangster movies, if you’ve ever had a midlife crisis, or are planning on having one, then it’s the drama for you.

In this final series the four friends, having returned home after years of escapades following a holiday together, return to Cape Town to face their demons, and get caught up in more violent misadventures.

MARPLE_ENDLESS_NIGHTAll you middle-aged men may want to clear off down the pub now because we’re swinging to the other end of the television spectrum to consider little old ladies. We’re talking ITV, we’re talking Christie, we’re talking Miss Marple. We’re talking Endless Night.

The blurb does like to chatter, a bit like your auntie:

Whilst staying with Marjorie , a recently widowed friend, Miss Marple comes across the young and handsome chauffeur, Mike Rogers – a working-class charmer, who dreams of more to life than… this.

They quickly strike up a bond, chatting about local beauty spot, Gypsy’s Acre – to Mike’s eye, the ideal place to build one’s fantasy home.  Despite the asking price being far too high for a drifter like him, and the alleged gypsy’s curse cast upon the place, he can’t help but return. But this time, he meets Ellie; and several lives are changed forever.

Ellie Goodman is an American heiress, on the cusp of turning 21, and yearning to escape her closeted existence.  It turns out that opposites do indeed attract, and Mike and Ellie fall quickly in love, with Gipsy’s Acre being the spot where they set their hearts on living – with the help of Mike’s childhood friend, Robbie Hayman, now a promising architect.  The two go back a long way, and a devoted Robbie longs to pay back Mike for trying, if unsuccessfully, to save his brother’s life several years before.

Ellie and Mike tie the knot in a secret ceremony, but it isn’t long before the “vultures descend”, and the pair have to explain themselves to Ellie’s money-hungry stepmother Cora, and supercilious lawyer Andrew Lippincott.  The only one who shows them any real support is Greta, previously Ellie’s chaperone – and, before Mike came along, her only true friend in the world.

Still with us? Good.

The couple have previously been warned off by the elusive gypsy, Mrs Lee, but they ignore her ancient curses, and soon Robbie has built them their dream home at Gypsy’s Acre, and they begin to settle into life in their new secluded existence. Miss Marple is always on-hand, helping Mike to adjust to his new life – acting almost as a surrogate mother, since he and his real mum have a rather strained and distrustful relationship.

The new young couple seem so happy together, but Ellie can’t get the gypsy’s curse out of her head, and when she twists her ankle, she leaps at Greta’s offer to come and stay to keep her company.  Mike, on the other hand is not quite so pleased that their honeymoon idyll has been invaded by an outsider…

Meanwhile, Mrs Lee continues to make her presence felt, as the happy couple suffer from a targeted campaign of hatred designed to force them out.

Before long, tragedy strikes when Ellie is thrown from her horse and dies.  A devastated Mike travels to New York to sort out his late wife’s estate with Lippincott, but then two more mysterious deaths occur. Only Miss Marple can solve the riddle of Gypsy’s Acre, but in doing so she must put her own life in very serious danger…

Mad Dogs is on Sky 1 tomorrow at 9pm. Miss Marple keeps her powder dry until Sunday night at 8pm.

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