Somehow, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford’s first amateur detective experience wasn’t enough to deter them from getting involved in a further round of investigative shenanigans.
Thus, the further adventures of BBC One’s Partners In Crime began tonight with the opening part of ‘N or M?’ and our plucky heroes somehow find themselves still not having been murdered by the end of the episode. Well done, kids!
The continued absence of Tommy and Tuppence’s son George is explained in this story by a Scout trip to the Highlands, which begs the question as to whether the Beresfords ever actually find time to fit in any actual parenting. At least they do seem to remember to feed Tiffin the dog on a daily basis, which very nearly comes as a surprise, given their collective bumbling.
Tommy, the more reluctant of the pair, is rather right when he condemns their further involvement in detecting: they’re not trained investigators and they have a son to think about – he’s somewhere, doing something, probably.
You would think that his previously having been threatened would be enough to give them pause, but then, I’ve started to find the cavalier attitude these sorts of amateur-sleuth cozy murder stories have towards rather horrifying amounts of murder (and the people who were murdered, directly or indirectly, because of Tommy and Tuppence, in their last adventure) kind of creepy. Besides, the fact that Uncle Carter has any confidence in them as detectives stretches the limits of suspended disbelief until they burst.
Noted nuclear bomb designer Gilbert Worthing has gone missing along with his explosive handiwork, and it’s up to Tommy to figure out which of the guests at the Sans Souci hotel is responsible – but this N or M character is involved in some seriously scary Soviet business, and Tommy has been forbidden from telling anyone about it, even his wife.
Does Carter genuinely believe that Tommy will be able to keep any secrets from his far pluckier and terribly nosy wife? Does he honestly think she would ever be content to just let him get on with it? He must secretly have known this was going to backfire, surely. Thick layers of 1950s-style sexism aside, he really ought to have just gone straight to Tuppence with the job.
Of course, Carter’s plan backfires, as Tuppence picks up and follows Tommy to the very hotel where he’s meant to be undercover investigating the colourful cast of characters staying at the hotel, going undercover herself. It’s telling that it’s not much of a stretch to find the lie that these two are complete strangers more plausible than the fact that they are, somehow, a married couple, in spite of the whispered, jealous bickering they engage in at having to watch each other flirt with other people under the guise of undercover verisimilitude, or something.
Tommy flounders enough when his birdwatching bluff is called that I fail to see how he manages to evade being found out, and it comes as very much no surprise when Tuppence is threatened by Khan for hiding in his wardrobe.
It does, however, get bonus points for being a jolly pretty piece of period filmmaking, and being the sort of thing that makes for a pleasant enough Sunday night diversion when you’d quite like to switch your brain off for an hour and coast comfortably into Monday.
Just don’t try to watch it with any sort of critical eye, lest you should find yourself, like me, shouting at the people on the television and their consistently ridiculous decisions.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 16 August July 2015 on BBC One.
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