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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Detective > Crime > Literature > British TV > Above Suspicion (2008 – 2010/Acorn DVD set) + Poirot Series 3 (1991/Acorn Blu-ray set)

Above Suspicion (2008 – 2010/Acorn DVD set) + Poirot Series 3 (1991/Acorn Blu-ray set)


Picture: C+/B     Sound: B-     Extras: C+/D     Episodes: B-/B



The news that Acorn Media bought controlling interest in the Agatha Christie Estate was big news and being it is the holdings of her work and a key all-time writer, it is impressive.  However, Acorn has issued more British TV Mystery than any other company in the U.S., so that is no surprise.  Here is their latest new mystery release and latest Christie title.


Above Suspicion is a new set of series from Prime Suspect creator Lynda La Plante and once again, it is very interesting and watchable.  The original 2008 mini-series and its 2010 sequel The Red Dahlia are here in this one DVD set and it deserves a wider audience.  If you missed it, you’ll want to see it.


The underrated Ciaran Hinds is the head investigator of what turns out to be a very gruesome series of prostitute killings, a case so hot and causing such a panic that he is actually fighting with other departments over who is taking the case.  Enter a new female investigator (Kelly Reilly) anxious to help and smarter than anyone thinks and you have another dual tale of a hideous murder and a woman fighting prejudice from men (sexism) and women (jealousy) resulting in something better than your usual police procedural and the leads have great chemistry.  I also liked the supporting cast and the approach, including a great move where we see stills come to life of the victims to tell their story and show that they are not disposable.  Very smart.


The sequel series is of a crazy copycat killer (imitating the infamous Hollywood Black Dahlia murder) in what is a more commercial, broad series that is still good, but does not keep up al the intensity of the first set of shows.  Still, I liked this more than the usual dull genre work and hope we get the next series.  Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes on both series, stills and brief cast interviews.


Acorn continues to reissue early David Suchet episodes of Poirot on Blu-ray with this Series 3 (1991) set that is as much a pleasant surprise as its predecessors, Series 1 & 2, which you can read more about at this link:





Continuing in the original broadcast order, including their first telefilm-length adventure as the season opener, here are the adaptations this time around:


1)     The Mysterious Affair At Styles (1920 novel)

2)     How Does Your Garden Grow?

3)     The Million Dollar Bond Robbery (1924 Christie short story)

4)     The Plymouth Express (1951 Christie short story)

5)     Wasps’ Nest (1929 Christie short story)

6)     The Tragedy At Marsdon Manor (1924 Christie short story)

7)     The Double Clue (1925 Christie short story)

8)     The Mystery Of The Spanish Chest (1939 Christie short story)

9)     The Theft Of The Royal Ruby (1960 Christie short story)

10)  The Affair At The Victory Ball (1951 Christie short story)

11)  The Mystery Of The Hunter’s Lodge (1924 Christie short story)


We again did cover just about all of these on DVD previously and once again, the upgrade is a huge surprise, so if you have a Blu-ray player and are a fan, get these new sets and be prepared to be shocked.  More on the playback performance in a moment.  Though there are no extras, note Series 6 was issued on Blu-ray a while ago and we covered it at this link:





We look forward to the final two upgraded sets as well as more Blu-ray from Acorn, who has been issuing some great discs in the format since they started.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the two series of Above Suspicion are about on par with each other, though the first series was filmed and is a little more color rich, has slightly more detail and less motion blur.  I would love to see these on Blu-ray too.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is more evenly matched, well recorded and with some Pro Logic surrounds, though a lossless track would sound better and the sound seems to be there.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Poirot is as much a big improvement over the previous DVD editions as the last two Blu-ray sets were with much better color, depth and definition like you have never seen before from this show.  Once again, the professionally shot 16mm (with great Panavision equipment) plays off and you can see the money and effort on the screen, as well as the locales that makes this more watchable than ever.  Fans will sometimes feel like they are seeing the show for the first time.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo of the DVDs used on the first two Blu-ray sets has been replaced here by warmer PCM 2.0 Stereo that is not perfect, but is a noticeable improvement in delivering subtle differences we had been missing before.


-   Nicholas Sheffo


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