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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British TV > Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Classic Collection (Acorn DVD Set)

Agatha Christie’s Poirot – The Classic Collection (Acorn Media)


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



Last time we looked at David Suchet’s version of Hercule Poirot, it was one of the single Acorn Media DVDs and in comparison to the DVD release of the 1974 Murder On The Orient Express with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot.  Now, the entire original series of Suchet/Poirot shows have been collected in a very nicely produced 12 DVD boxed book-like set called Agatha Christie’s Poirot – The Classic Collection.  Each of the 12 DVDs offers three installments of the popular series that adds up to 36 shows.  Like Acorn’s Cadfael set, the DigiPaks are bound together like pages of a book though this one has no lock on it.


After reviewing these shows, I still have not changed my mind about Suchet, an otherwise fine actor.  I again admit he has brought new fans to Christie’s novels, but the production, directing and acting seem lite all around and the books are not.  As a matter of fact, the show low-balls the books in certain ways.  As the ultimate statement against what I do not like about this version of Poirot, I recently found out that controversial director Paul Verhoeven was approached to direct a theatrical feature film version back in 1980 of the 1944 Christie novel Death Comes At The End for Columbia Pictures.  This sadly fell through, despite a screenplay by no less than Anthony Shaffer.  Despite the mixed business of the Poirot feature Death On The Nile in 1978, Columbia was willing to do a location shoot in Egypt, as this was not a Poirot or Marple story.


Too bad it did not happen, but it is the kind of excitement that used to be associated with Poirot and the Mystery genre.  This is just too stuffy, though the new Marple series Acorn has just issued on DVD (reviewed elsewhere on this site) finally may change that.  The hour-long time slotted episodes here are as follows, with the original date of the Christie work first published after each title:



1)     The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim (1924 Christie short story)

2)     The Veiled Lady (1924 Christie short story)

3)     The Lost Mine (1924 Christie short story)

4)     The Cornish Mystery (1951 Christie short story)

5)     Double Sin (1929 Christie short story)

6)     The Adventure Of The Cheap Flat (1924 Christie short story)

7)     The Kidnapped Prime Minister (1924 Christie short story)

8)     The Adventure Of The Western Star (1924 Christie short story)

9)     How Does Your Garden Grow?

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

11)  The Plymouth Express (1951 Christie short story)

12)  Wasps’ Nest (1929 Christie short story)

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

14)  The Double Clue (1925 Christie short story)

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

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

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

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

19)  The Adventure Of The Egyptian Tomb (1924 Christie short story)

20)  The Underdog (1951 Christie short story)

21)  Yellow Iris (1939 Christie short story)

22)  The Case Of The Missing Will (1924 Christie short story)

23)  The Adventure Of The Italian Nobleman (1924 Christie short story)

24)  The Chocolate Box (1924 Christie short story)

25)  Dead Man’s Mirror (1937 Christie short story)

26)  Jewel Robbery At The Great Metropolitan (1924 Christie short story)

27)  The Adventures Of The Clapham Cook (1951 Christie short story)

28)  Murder In The Mews (1937 Christie short story)

29)  The Adventures Of Johnny Waverly (1950 Christie short story)

30)  Four & Twenty Blackbirds (1950 Christie short story)

31)  The Third Floor Flat (1949 short story)

32)  Triangle At Rhodes (1938 short story)

33)  Problem At Sea (1939 Christie short story)

34)  The King Of Clubs (1951 Christie short story)

35)  The Dream (1960 Christie short story)

36)  The Incredible Theft (David Reid & Clive Exton original [?])



Obviously, it would be a stretch to turn the short stories into feature films and many others exist, but the show eventually wrapped up despite its critical and commercial success.  Suchet would return to the role and no one else has tried to play him in the classical period since.  At least it was a success of some sort, though the feature films keep getting the short end of praise.  Ultimately, though, it is just more success for Christie, who still remains the most successful and most published female author of all time.


The full frame image is a bit soft throughout all the episodes, despite being shot in 16mm film using Panavision equipment.  It partly is just the non-HD nature of the transfers, all shot by the following cinematographers: Peter Bartlett, Peter Jessop, Norman G. Langley, Vernon Layton, Jason Lehel, Chris O’Dell and Ivan Strasburg.  Despite all these talents, the show never has any kind of distinguished or memorable look.  This is not to suggest that it should have a clichéd look, but it is just far too flat for its own good.  That remains a setback to the show along with it other issues.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is fairly good, but lacks any major Pro Logic surround information.  The dialogue is just clear enough and the music is mixed.  Extras are all text, including segments on the actors from all the shows per each DVD and their previous works, bios on Suchet and on Christie.  That includes a list of Poirot’s adventures.  That is standard for this series, but nothing extraordinary.  Fans of the show seem to like it that way and now can get all the original shows in one much easier to store box.  A&E has additionally issued Suchet’s return to the role on DVD if this is not enough of Suchet’s Poirot for you.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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