Agatha Christie: Poirot Series 1
Recurring character(s): Hercule Poirot (David Suchet), Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson), Miss Felicity Lemon (Pauline Moran)
Original air date(s): 01/08/1989 to 03/19/1989
DVD Date: 01/31/2012
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 501 minutes
Note(s): Screenplays adapted from the original novels and/or short stories by Agatha Christie.
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Review: Over the last 20 plus years, David Suchet has brilliantly played Agatha Christie's Belgian private detective Hercule Poirot. But for reasons unknown at least to me, these television episodes and made-for-television movies adapted from Christie's novels and short stories have been released on VHS — and later DVD — in a rather haphazard manner. Now, Acorn Media has wiped the slate clean, and is reissuing these adaptations, remastered and — possibly more importantly — in the order in which they aired on ITV. They are also being released for the first time on Blu-ray disc.
First up is Series 1, the ten episodes that aired during the spring of 1989.
I know I have seen all these before — though I can't find any DVDs in my collection that include them, so I'm guessing I saw them on television — but what a delight it was to once again see David Suchet in his early days as Poirot. He's confident and pompous and sometimes arrogant, but he's also young and full of energy. These early episodes also star Hugh Fraser as Poirot's confidant Captain Arthur Hastings. Hastings is a bit of a buffoon, with too much time and money on his hands, but always willing to lend a hand in helping Poirot solve the case. The ever efficient Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran) is on hand to keep Poirot organized at his home office, and Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) of Scotland Yard, while never too eager to allow Poirot to take over an investigation, allows him great latitude just the same. (A side note: though Hastings, Miss Lemon, and Japp appear in each episode here, they weren't always characters in the original novel or short story.)
Each of these episodes runs for about 50 minutes, an appropriate length for the adaptation of a short story, where character development is often minimal and the focus is on the crime and its solution. Like any collection, some of these episodes are better than others, but they're all quite enjoyable. A couple of the better ones take place outside of London. Whereas Christie's Miss Marple rarely ventured much beyond the environs of St. Mary Mead, Poirot travels extensively, and two consecutive episodes in this set take place in foreign lands: "Triangle at Rhodes" in Greece and "Problem at Sea" on a ship sailing (presumably from Greece) to Egypt.
These are relatively simple productions, with no fancy special effects or action stunts, but they serve their purpose of providing entertainment through watching Poirot and his little gray cells solve the whodunit (and sometimes the howdunit or whydunit). The quality of the images are excellent, a credit to the technicians at Acorn.
Here is a list of the episodes included in this set and their source material.
• The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (a short story in Poirot's Early Cases, 1974);
• Murder in the Mews (a short story in Murder in the Mews, 1937);
• The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly (a short story in Poirot's Early Cases, 1974);
• Four and Twenty Blackbirds (a short story in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, 1960);
• The Third Floor Flat (a short story in Poirot's Early Cases, 1974);
• Triangle at Rhodes (a short story in Murder in the Mews, 1937);
• Problem at Sea (a short story in Poirot's Early Cases, 1974);
• The Incredible Theft (a short story in Murder in the Mews, 1937);
• The King of Clubs (a short story in Poirot's Early Cases, 1974);
• The Dream (a short story in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, 1960).
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