The Agatha Christie Hour
– Set One (1982) + Poirot – Movie Collection Set 5 (2008, 2010/Acorn DVD Sets)
Picture: C/C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C Episodes: B-/C+
Nobody has issued more
Agatha Christie material than Acorn Media and now, they are back with two more
sets of interest. First is The Agatha Christie Hour, a series
devoted to lesser-known tales by the author, while the Poirot – Movie Collection Set 5 has three more tales of the Belgian
detective, including two that have famously been made in recent years.
First comes the 1982
anthology series, which is half of the shows made. It features the following puzzles:
The Case Of The Middle-Aged Wife (1934 Parker Pyne short
A Glass Darkly (1939 short story)
Girl In The Train (1934 short story)
Fourth Man (1933 short story)
Case Of The Discontented Soldier (1934 Parker Pyne
These are good,
interesting and different, showing she could make mystery work without her
famous crime-solving character creations.
This release is long overdue and Maurice Denham plays Pyne and Angela
Easterling plays Miss Felicity Lemon.
Nicholas Clay was in Guy Hamilton’s underrated Poirot feature Evil Under The Sun the same year he
plays Matthew Armitage in Darkly, as
a man imagines his wife being strangled by someone else. Osmund Bullock and Roy Kinnear show up in
Train, while Fourth Man has no less
than John Nettles, Michael Gough, Alan MacNaughton and Frederick Jaeger. That is a solid set.
We get more of the same
with Poirot and unless you are a fan of David Suchet in the role (and I am
not), you will not be too impressed.
However, this time, the choices are odd.
Of course, they finally go to Murder
On The Orient Express, which was botched much worse in an ill-advised,
modernized 2001 telefilm, but this is no match for Sidney Lumet’s 1974 all-star
feature film which remains the gold standard for the adaptation of the
book. However, this is not bad and with
a cast that includes Toby Jones, David Morrissey, Eileen Atkins, Hugh Bonneville
and Barbara Hershey, this is not badly cast either. However, it lacks energy and the realism of
the 1974 film, but they were going to do it sooner or later, so this could have
The new version of Appointment With Death is on par with the
modernized 1988 Peter Ustinov version that was no match for the earlier Ustinov outings.
Tim Curry joins in but the real problem is that this Syria-based mystery
was just never that good and has not aged well either. That leaves The Third Girl, a later Poirot book from 1966, has the detective
teaming up with mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Zoë Wanamaker) to find out why a
woman who claims she committed a murder suddenly disappeared, another of
Christie’s semi-regular characters who has also worked with… Parker Pyne!
The 1.33 X 1 full color, PAL, full frame image on Hour has many issues, as the case warns
on the back. Shot just about entirely on
analog PAL videotape,
flaws including video noise, video banding, tape scratching, PAL cross color,
faded color and tape damage, but it is often still watchable due to the sets,
clothes and production just the same. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image
on the Poirot set is better, but not by as much as you would think for what
seems to be a 1080i HD shoot. We get
motion blur, color limits and other limits.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hour
and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Poirot
are even a little close, with Hour
sounding better than expected and Poirot
not as outstanding as it could have been.
The extras on both
include text, with Hour having a Christie
biography and Parker Pyne, Before Poirot,
while Poirot has text cast
filmographies, 47 minutes with Suchet on Orient
Express, Suchet and Tim Curry notes on Appointment,
a list of Poirot books and 120 Years With Agatha Christie.