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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Telefilm > British TV > Literature > Anthology > The Agatha Christie Hour – Set One (1982) + Poirot – Movie Collection Set 5 (2008, 2010/Acorn DVD Sets)

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 story)

In A Glass Darkly (1939 short story)

The Girl In The Train (1934 short story)

The Fourth Man (1933 short story)

The Case Of The Discontented Soldier (1934 Parker Pyne short story)



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 been worse.


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.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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