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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Detective > Drama > Action > Crime > Comedy > Romance > Judicial > Courtroom > Police Procedural > B > Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 7 & 8 (2001 w/Evil Under The Sun) + Series 9 (2003 - 2004 w/Death On The Nile/Acorn Blu-ray Sets)/Last Tango In Halifax (2012)/The Paradise (2012)/Silk: Series One (20

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 7 & 8 (2001 w/Evil Under The Sun) + Series 9 (2003 - 2004 w/Death On The Nile/Acorn Blu-ray Sets)/Last Tango In Halifax (2012)/The Paradise (2012)/Silk: Series One (2011/BBC DVD Sets)

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

Here is a new cycle of British TV arriving in recent weeks....

Acorn continues their extensive rollout of Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 7 & 8 (2001) an Series 9 (2003 - 2004) with David Suchet in Blu-ray sets that continue to nicely replace their long standing DVD releases of the series. This time, the sets delve into some of the best books in the series, including two that became major motion pictures.

Series 7 & 8 includes:

The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd (1926 novel) has Poirot reading the chronicles of a murder that has taken place to make sure they are authentic, but with a grand twist that helped put Christie on the map. Made as a film in 1931 with Austin Trevor as Poirot (the first of three he did), this is not bad, but I would like to see the earlier version to compare. The book is a classic.

Lord Edgeware Dies (aka Thirteen At Dinner, 1933 novel) has Poirot investigating whether an actress murdered her husband who she wanted a divorce from or is she being framed? Made as a film in 1934 with Austin Trevor as Poirot (the third of three he did), this is not bad, but I would like to see the earlier version to compare. Another solid book to adapt too.

Murder In Mesopotamia (1936 novel) has a woman brutally murdered in a dig in 1930s Iraq, but Poirot happens to be nearby on another assignment and gets involved in this one as well, trying to find out who did and and top it from happening again.

Evil Under The Sun (1941 novel) has Poirot checking into a vacation resort for rest, relaxation and his health when a dead body turns up and it could be any of the guests. Told too seriously for its own good, it is no match for the underrated, witty, 1982 Guy Hamilton theatrical film with Ustinov in his best Poirot appearance, but has a few good moments in what was always a solid book.

Series 9 includes:

Five Little Pigs (aka Murder In Retrospect, 1943 novel) has Poirot asked to investigate a murder case reopened after 16 years in which a wife was convicted of murdering her cheating husband, but her daughter is not so sure and wants her mother freed. Yet another solid book to adapt, this was ahead of Kurosawa's Rashomon in having multiple points of view recalling the same events in contradictory ways. Toby Stephens and Gemma Jones guest star.

Sad Cypress (1940 novel) has a woman's death delay a young couple's marriage, as she was the aunt of the bride, but a second person turns up dead in what turns out to be poisonings, so a doctor calls Poirot in to investigate and find out what is really going on before it happens again. Rupert Penry-Jones and Diana Quick guest star.

Death On The Nile (1937 novel) has Poirot taking a cruise for a rest, only for a dead body to turn up. A decent remake here that is not based, but still not up to the mixed 1978 big cast feature film with Peter Ustinov debuting as Poirot. James Fox, Emily Blunt, Judy Parfitt, David Soul, Frances de la Tour and Barbara Flynn guest star.

The Hollow (aka Murder After Hours, 1946 novel) has Poirot visit the grand estate of the title only to find a dead body, which he at first believes is a joke (he can never take a vacation from murder as is obvious from the above cases) but the body is real and so is the lack of people talking. Sarah Miles and Edward Fox guest star.

There are no extras on either set, but fans will be happy with the upgrades.

Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid play a couple who find each other late in life, even if it throws their families off a bit in the comical mini-series Last Tango In Halifax (2012), a six-episode romp with some amusing moments, good cast, good performances and consistent quality, but it is unfortunately too predicable and in the end, more melodrama than it needed. Still, Jacobi can pretty much do no wrong and some will find this safe entertainment.

There are no extras.

I can say the same of the equally predictable romance of The Paradise (2012), an 8-episode mini-series about class division in England over a century ago focusing on a young lady (Joanna Vanderham as Denise) who starts to work at a clothing shop only to find herself getting involved with the upper classes whether they like it or not. Will she find true love with a rich man far above her station or have her heart (and wallet) broken?

This one is also longer than I would have liked, but it is meant to appeal to the melodramatic crowd and money is in the production. The making of featurette Behind The Doors Of Paradise is the only extra.

Finally and better is the crime series Silk: Series One (2011) with Maxine Peake as a defense barrister (read lawyer) still dealing with a man's world of backroom deals when she wants the law to be run on the basis of justice itself. The six decent episodes have their ups and downs with some predictability and this is still a police procedural and has its share of predictability. What I like is the lead, the cast the set up and the consistent pace.

Rupert Penry-Jones, Natalie Dormer, Neil Stuke and Tom Hughes are among the supporting cast and this is a show that could expand and actually get better if the writers (including creator Peter Moffat) try to play against the conventions of the genre they are taking on, including the courtroom drama. I look forward to the next season. Behind The Scenes footage is the only extra.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Poirot Blu-rays are sourced from the original Super 16mm film of the show and are no longer here in 1.33 X 1 HD as some of the previous sets were. We get some expected grain, but I cannot imagine these shows looking any better and like the look of the shows. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image of the BBC DVD sets are much softer than I would have liked, especially in the case of Silk, but Paradise has better color and definition, finding itself between the Blu-rays and these DVDs in playback quality.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on the Poirot Blu-rays are the sonic champs here with warm sound, decent Pro Logic surrounds if you choose and fullness you cannot get out of the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes on the BBC DVD sets where Pro Logic only helps so much.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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