The Pale Horse (mini series)

When the police find a list of names in a dead woman’s shoe, there first seems to be nothing linking them. But, does Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell) – the only name with a question mark – know more than he’s letting on? As he starts his own investigation, he’s haunted by dark tragedies in his past. Surely three ‘witches’ can’t really be responsible for the deaths of all the names on the list – but, if they are, is he next?

I’m partial to a good Agatha Christie retelling, although ‘good’ can be few and far between. This doesn’t quite hit the mark, alas, possibly because it strays a bit too far from its source material in a bid to add a modern update. I haven’t read the book (of the same name), but I’ve read that there are more than few changes and it doesn’t sound like they were for the best.

What’s good: Rufus Sewell is excellent in the main role, haunted by demons real and imagined. I liked the 1960s setting a lot, too, used subtly enough. And the reveal of the mystery is pretty satisfying, in solution if a bit less in portrayal. Mind, the good bits came from Christie!

I’m less sure about the supernatural elements woven through, which might have added a lot if not for the rather bizarre ending. When you’ve sat through 2 hours of drama, I’m not sure the ‘oooh, make up your own mind!’ twist tacked on the end can ever do more than frustrate.

I also took a large dislike to the second Mrs Easterbrook, which is a little problematic in terms of caring about her part in the drama. That felt like a theme: everyone here seemed a bit unlikeable, from the best friend to the police officer (although very well played by Sean Pertwee), to the somewhat cardboard ‘witches’. Hmm.

I made a mistake in dismissing the poor reviews of this, thinking they were Christie purists and I’d fare better not knowing the source material. Actually, they were probably right. Still, it was close: if the ending hadn’t been so odd, then I might have rated this higher.

First broadcast: February 2020
Series: 1
Episodes: 2 @ ~60 mins each

My rating: 6.5/10

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