Monday, October 20, 2014

Death of a Hollow Man (TV episode)

This episode of Midsomer Murders centers around the amateur theatrical group in Causton, of which Joyce Barnaby, wife of Inspector Tom Barnaby, is a member. The members of the group are a motley group, and seem to be very true to the types who take part in amateur theatricals. These individuals have known each other so well and so long that there are petty resentments and misunderstandings simmering. All of this builds up to murder while working on the current play, Amadeus. Barnaby has done volunteer work for this group over the years, so he knows all the suspects well.


I recently reread the book that this episode is based on and my review is here. I enjoyed it just as much this time around.

The episode is faithful to the book, for the most part. It includes the preparations for the play, the in-fighting among the various members of the theatrical group, the performance of the play itself. Some of the characters in the book have been cut and relationships changed. The adaptation also differs in that there is a murder that occurs at the beginning of the episode. Personally I did not find that this added anything to the story. Initially it is unclear what the link is between the Causton Amateur Dramatic Society and this death. Caroline Graham wrote the screen play, so she must have felt theses changes were needed or at least beneficial for adaptation as a TV episode.

The TV adaptations don't have the same depth of dissection of English village life as the books did, but I enjoy them all the same. I love the characters, even the boorish Sergeant Troy. The book spends much more time explaining why Joyce has given up her budding career as a singer to be the wife of a policeman. This is just one example of how the character development can have more depth in a book. But each entertains in its own way.

Only five of the seven books in the Inspector Barnaby series by Caroline Graham were adapted for television. Death of a Hollow Man was the second book in the series and the fourth episode in the TV series. The episode first aired in 1998. It stars John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby and Daniel Casey as Sgt Troy. Joyce is played by Jane Wymark. Cully Barnaby (Laura Howard) plays a significant part in this episode, as she does in the book.

This TV adaptation is submitted for the 2014 Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey.

18 comments:

  1. I love the Midsomer Murder Mysteries. I read Death of a Hollow Man quite a few years ago, and really liked it. Now i'm watching the Barnaby episodes on Netflix. I enjoy them a lot. Now i'm quite far into the series, and Sergeant Jones has replaced Troy. I think i like him better. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, I love the series too. We have watched all of the Tom Barnaby episodes, and are now rewatching early episodes. Haven't watched any with the new Barnaby. I like both Sgt. Troy and Sgt Jones. The middle Sgt did not fit in as well.

      Delete
  2. TracyK: I remember watching the show. I enjoyed it though, at the moment, I cannot recall the killer. It is one of the few adapted TV series I have watched where I have not read any of the books. I think I should try one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Bill, you should try at least one. I did like the series the first time I read the books, but I had forgotten just how good it is. At least for me.

      Delete
  3. Thanks TracyK for taking part in the challenge! Not read the books but have definitely seen the TV version (probably more than once and probably in Italian too) - you do manke me want to see it again, though this is one that i remember pretty well actually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sergio, I am loving the book to movie challenge. It is a real challenge for me but fun. I enjoyed watching this episode again after rereading the book.

      Delete
  4. Tracy - I agree completely that this episode is fairly faithful to the book. As you say, there's more depth to the novel than there is to the TV adaptation (not surprising, really), but the story is still engaging. And I have to say that I like John Nettles as Tom Barnaby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, Nettles is one of the reasons I like this series so much. The new Barnaby is probably fine but we haven't tried any of those episodes yet.

      Delete
  5. I haven't read any of the books (no time now either). The TV episodes are inoffensive, I don't object if they are on and my wife and daughter watch, but I'm probably not too inclined to watch, so couldn't remember if I ever saw this. John Nettles, I like. He played a character in a series years before Bergerac, set on Jersey. I enjoyed him in that, but can't recall if he was a policeman or ex-policeman or just someone who attracted trouble! Would be interesting to know if it was solely a TV show or whether it had been adapted from a book or two. I will google it when I have stopped rambling!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, I have been interested in seeing some of the Bergerac episodes but we have so much backlog of TV series to watch, I can't add more. From what I remember, there were Bergerac books but they were novelizations of the series.

      Delete
  6. I haven't read any of the books but will give them a go. I love Midsomer Murders which I call 'marshmallow viewing' somehow I do almost always forget the details of the murders but the settings are so chocolate boxy, I just can't resist them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katrina, I consider it a blessing that I forget who did it, then I can watch the episodes again and be surprised.

      Delete
  7. Tracy, I'd be more interested in the Inspector Barnaby series by Caroline Graham than its television adaptation because I no longer watch TV save for the odd sitcom or film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I had to choose, Prashant, I would choose the books over the movies too. Books are almost always better.

      Delete
  8. I love the Midsomer Murders series. We have watched many, MANY seasons of the show and still enjoy each and every episode. I don't think I'd want to live in that area of England though....heck of a lot of people die around there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carl, I watched a Halloween episode of Midsomer Murders that I will be writing a post about for RIP. And tonight we watched Death in Disguise, another early episode based on one of the books. We enjoy all of them too, even re-watching them.

      Delete
  9. I have only watched the odd episode of the TV series, but after reading your book review I did make a note to read Hollow Man once my embargo is over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a fun book, Moira. Wish I had time to reread them all. Over time, I probably will.

      Delete