Poirot: The Movie Collection – Set 4 (2008/Acorn Media DVD)
Picture: C- Sound: C Extras: C Episodes: C
Running since 1989, the BBC series based on Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels has been almost as successful as
the source material. Starring the
impeccable David Suchet as the eponymous detective Hercule Poirot, Set 4 of The Movie Collection contains
two feature-length episodes from Season
11, “Mrs. McGinty’s Dead” and “Cat Among the Pigeons.”
The series is set in 1930s England with a great deal of effort made to
show off the sumptuous ultra-modern style of the era among the monied elite of
Britain. Each episode encapsulates one
case in which Poirot is called upon to investigate a murder. Due to the episodic nature of the series, new
watchers can jump in at any point without fear of missing anything. Much of the joy of the series though, as with
most crime series that follow the same detective, is in the repetition and
iterative schemes between episodes.
Poirot himself is a meticulous little Belgian gentleman, and while he
is the very model of urbane metropolitan charm, his status as a foreigner in
Britain gives him, and therefore the viewer, a certain outsider perspective on
British culture. After nearly twenty
years playing the character, David Suchet has his performance down to a
science, though the lack of the side characters Hastings, Miss Lemon, and
Inspector Japp rob these later episodes of some of the wit and playfulness of
the early series.
The picture, in 16:9 widescreen, has that very distinctive grayed look
seen in almost every BBC production and is somewhat soft. Likewise, the sound has just a touch of echo
which makes it sound a bit manufactured.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo.
The first two discs each contain one episode with a forty five-minute
documentary on the third disc. Special
features on the first disc include text biographies of Agatha Christie and
David Suchet along with Cast Filmographies and a list of all the Poirot novels. The second disc only contains Cast
Filmographies. The documentary on the
third disc is surprisingly entertaining with interviews from cast, crew,
relatives of Agatha Christie, and several mystery novelists. The documentary discusses Christie’s life and
work, the series, its attitude towards adaptation, and its potential end.
These episodes are nowhere near the height of the Poirot series, but
even as the episodes fall into a sort of stiff repetition, as though operating
on habit rather than enthusiasm, there is a certain inescapable charm to
Hercule Poirot that makes these episodes entirely worth watching. Newcomers would be well advised to begin with
the earlier seasons, but once they do, they’ll more than likely end up working
their way through the seasons and find themselves at these episodes eventually.
- Matthew Carrick