Acorn Media has released another excellent Blu-ray featuring David Suchet as Agatha Christie’s most famous creation, Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Series 4 include three feature-length cases, in their original (1992) U.K. broadcast order.
[Alexander Bonaparte Cust (Donald Sumpter) meets Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) in "The ABC Murders"]
“The ABC Murders”—In one of Christie’s most ingenious mystery plots, Poirot must find a mad mass murderer who goes by the moniker ABC. Like Jack the Ripper, the killer enjoys playing a cat-and-mouse game with the famed detective, sending him taunting letters and leading him on a chase across England, daring him to prevent the next murder in his alphabetical scheme. Poirot’s faithful sidekicks Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) and Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) join Poirot on his quest to stop the killings. Guest stars include Donald Sumpter and Donald Douglas.
“Death in the Clouds”—Murder can occur anywhere; in this case on board an airplane. A known blackmailer, Madame Giselle (Eve Pearce) has been found dead on the flight from Paris to London. Unfortunately for the murderer, Hercule Poirot also happens to be a passenger on the trans-Atlantic flight. Although totally absurd, Japp must include Poirot as one of the suspects! In a nice twist on Christie’s typical drawing-room mystery, Poirot must sort through the small group of suspects and a series of clues, including a dead wasp, a box of matches, and a poisoned dart to find his killer. Stewardess Jane Grey (Sarah Woodward) assists Poirot on the case.
[Jane Grey (Sarah Woodward) and Poirot outside the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur in Paris in "Death in the Clouds"]
“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”—Poirot, like many, hates going to the dentist. But what he hates even more is his dentist, Dr. Morley, being murdered. Although he doesn’t really suspect him, Japp cannot believe that Poirot has once again found himself in the middle of a brutal murder. As Poirot investigates his dentist’s death the clues lead to mistaken identity, bigamy, and unexpected political intrigue. Doctor Who’s Christopher Eccleston guest stars.
The three mysteries on two discs have a total running time of approximately 306 minutes. The images are crisp and clear, with a screen resolution of 1080p and an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. They look especially good on a large-screen HD television screen, where even the weave of the costumes’ sumptuous fabrics can be detected. The PCM 2.0 sound quality is also good, with clear dialogue, music, and and background sounds. English SDH subtitles are available.
[Poirot takes a trip to the dentist in "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"]
The three episodes highlight Suchet’s iconic interpretation of Poirot. His secretary Miss Lemon is absent from these stories and Captain Hastings is only on hand for “The ABC Murders,” which gives Philip Jackson more screen-time as Japp. As grisly as some of the murders can be, there is also an opportunity for humor, especially in Poirot’s reaction to a gift that Captain Hastings has brought him from South America—a large, hideous, stuffed alligator.
The look of the series, as always, is impeccable, with lavish Art Deco sets and costumes. But Poirot must frequently leave his well-appointed apartment and go out of his element in order to solve some of the crimes – attending a tennis match (“Death in the Clouds”) and even a horse race (“The ABC Murders”).
Suchet will be filming five Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries this fall, completing a definitive interpretation of a beloved fictional character. “Curtain,” “The Labours of Hercules,” “Dead Man’s Folly,” “The Big Four” and “Elephants Can Remember” will round out his portrayal of the world’s fussiest, and most brilliant detective. Suchet has been playing Poirot for 22 years, and although it is always sad to see such a brilliant series come to an end, it is wonderful to know that through Blu-rays such as these, Suchet and Co.’s brilliant adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth can be enjoyed again and again.