A Gourmet Feast For the Little Gray Cells
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 05/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This stunning DVD box set collects all 36 one-hour episodes of the brilliant "Poirot" series, which had initially been released on DVD in 12 individual volumes containing three episodes each.
These episodes originally aired during what I call the "Golden Age" of PBS Mystery!, during Poirot's classic five-season run from 1989-1993. Amazingly and happily, the ultra stylish Poirot is still being produced intermittently, but in movie-length productions instead of one-hour shows.
Dame Agatha Christie, the widest read author in the world, created the immortal Hercule Poirot to universal acclaim. But for me, her most popular detective failed to generate an appropriate film pressence until this series.
Prior to that, actors who tackled the role in numerous movie adaptations were, to me, incredibly annoying, inexplicably choosing to highlight Poirot's many eccentricities while ignoring his heart. The result was disasterous, and for me, an insult to Christie's magnificent creation.
Amazingly, all of those long years of previous failures were wiped away in a single illuminating instant when actor David Suchet was cast as Poirot and immediately brought the Belgian sleuth to life in three-dimensional glory. To say that his portrayal is rich and utterly believable is to gloss over the accomplishment. Simple put, David Suchet is THE Hercule Poirot that I envisioned when I read those wonderful stories, "n'est-ce pas? Oui!" Suchet, a small man, is padded to give the appropriate girth to the detective, but in a deft way that appears true-to-life rather than laughable. (An unfortunate example of the latter occurred when Albert Finney played Poirot in a movie version of Murder on the Orient Express.)
Funny, human, dignified, well-mannered and respectful, Suchet's Poirot is a constant revelation, much like the gifted portrayal of Sherlock Holmes by the late Jeremy Bret, in yet another Golden Age PBS Mystery! triumph.
In addition to Mr. Suchet, the supporting cast in this series is equally brilliant, from Hugh Fraser's Capt. Arthur Hastings (Poirot's Watson), and Philip Jackson as Chief Inspector James Japp of Scottland Yard, to Pauline Moran's Miss Felicity Lemon (Poirot's secretary), all lovingly contributing to the production that remains the most-watched detective series in the long history of PBS Mystery!
In the 36 one-hour episodes included here, not only are the stories well produced and acted, the atmosphere of 1930's England, art deco and all, is also recreated in absorbing and believable detail. Beautiful English sea shores (even the Queen Mary, the jewel of the English fleet at the time, gets her due as Poirot and Hastings cross to America on her maiden voyage) as well as other countries, including Christie's beloved Egypt, also come vividly to life.
In addition to place, social classism, xenophobia and outright racisim are dealt with directly and indirectly, as many of those Poirot encounters mistrust him as that little foreigner. From theft, drug abuse, international intrigue and murder, every immaginable crime (as well as emotions from lust to greed to utter despair and suicide) come within Poirot's perview and are addressed with his usual aplumb and unique style and wit.
This remarkable set, at a great price, include the following episodes: ?The Adventure of the Clapham Cook; Murder in the Mews; The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly; Four and Twenty Blackbirds; The Third Floor Flat; Triangle at Rhodes; Problem at Sea; The Incredible Theft; The King of Clubs; The Dream; The Veiled Lady; The Lost Mine; The Cornish Mystery; The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim; Double Sin; The Adventure of the Cheap Flat; The Kidnaped Prime Minister; The Adventure of the Western Star; The Million Dollar Bond Robbery; The Affair at the Victory Ball; Wasp's Nest; The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor; The Double Clue; The Mystery of the Spanish Chest; The Theft of the Royal Ruby; The Plymouth Express; The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge; The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb; The Underdog; The Yellow Iris; The Case of the Missing Will; The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman; The Chocolate Box; Dead Man's Mirror; and the Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan.
If you have never seen these, buy them. If you didn't want to shell out the cash to get each individual volume, then grab this collection while you can!!!
Poirot in Perfection.
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 11/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hercule Poirot is one of the most famous detectives in literary history. Yet, strangely, except for his portrayal by Albert Finney in the star-studded movie version of "Murder on the Orient Express," for a long time there did not seem to be an actor who could convincingly bring to life the clever, dignified little Belgian with his unmistakable egg-shaped head, always perched a little on one side, his stiff, military, slightly upward-twisted moustache, and his excessively neat attire, which had reached the point that "a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet," as Agatha Christie introduced him through his friend Captain Hastings's voice in their and her own very first adventure, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" (1920). But leave it to British television to finally find the perfect Poirot in David Suchet, who after having had the dubious honor of playing a rather dumbly arrogant version of Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Japp in some of the 1980s' movies starring Peter Ustinov as Poirot, was finally allowed to move center stage in the Granada/ITV series broadcast from 1989 onwards, which to date also includes seventeen movie-length features based on a number of Christie's most celebrated Poirot novels. (Not -- yet? -- included are, most notably, [new] adaptations of "Murder on the Orient Express" , "Appointment with Death" , and Poirot's final case, "Curtain" [published 1975, but written in the 1940s].)
And the match is spot-on, not only physically but also, and more importantly so, in terms of personality. Suchet shares Poirot's inclination towards pedantry: "I like things to be symmetrical ... If I put two things on the mantelpiece, they have to be exactly evenly spaced," he said in an interview, comparing his real-life persona to that of Poirot. But, he added, unlike his on-screen alter ego, "I don't need the same sized eggs for breakfast!" Although previously not interested in mysteries, his habitually meticulous research allowed him to quickly become familiar with Christie's Belgian sleuth and the workings of his little grey cells -- and to slip so much into Poirot's skin that I, for one, can no longer pick up a Poirot book without instantly hearing Suchet's voice as that of the great little detective.
This collection brings together the series's 36 short episodes; all in all, adaptations of roughly 75% of the Poirot entries contained in Christie's various collections of short stories and novellas - or more precisely, almost all short stories except for the twelve mysteries from Poirot's self-declared "last" decameron of cases, "The Labors of Hercules" (1947), and three stories from the 1926 collection "The Underdog." Next to Mr. Suchet, Hugh Fraser stars as the detective's indefatigable sidekick Captain Hastings, whom the screenplays, alas, make come across as more of a well-educated but vacuous gentleman than do the written originals narrated from his point of view. (This is virtually my only quibble with the series -- and that although Granada and ITV did so well in debumblifying Sherlock Holmes's friend and chronicler Dr. Watson!) Philip Jackson, on the other hand, gives us an admirably sturdy, down-to-earth incarnation of Chief Inspector Japp, and Pauline Moran virtually inhabits Poirot's epitome of a secretary, Miss Lemon; whose role, like those of Hastings and Japp, is added into a number of episodes not originally featuring them, thankfully without greatly disturbing the stories' narrative flow and setting.
The episodes contained in this set are, in the order of Christie's original short story collections:
From POIROT INVESTIGATES (1924):
"The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim"
"The Veiled Lady"
"The Lost Mine"
"The Adventure of the Cheap Flat"
"The Kidnapped Prime Minister"
"The Adventure of the Western Star"
"The Million Dollar Bond Robbery"
"The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor"
"The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge"
"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb"
"The Case of the Missing Will"
"The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman"
"The Chocolate Box"
"Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan"
From THE UNDERDOG and OTHER STORIES (1926):
"The Cornish Mystery"
"The Plymouth Express"
"The Affair at the Victory Ball"
"The Adventure of the Clapham Cook"
"The King of Clubs"
From MURDER IN THE MEWS (1937):
"Dead Man's Mirror"
"Murder in the Mews"
"Triangle at Rhodes"
"The Incredible Theft"
From THE REGATTA MYSTERY and OTHER STORIES (1939):
"How Does Your Garden Grow?"
"The Mystery of the Spanish Chest" (a/k/a "The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest")
"Problem at Sea"
From THREE BLIND MICE and OTHER STORIES (1950):
"The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly"
"Four and Twenty Blackbirds"
"The Third Floor Flat"
From DOUBLE SIN and OTHER STORIES (1961):
"The Double Clue"
"The Theft of the Royal Ruby"
The Mysterious Affair at Styles: Hercule Poirot's First Case
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Agatha Christie Collection)
Agatha Christie: Five Complete Hercule Poirot Novels - Murder on the Orient Express / Thirteen at Dinner / The ABC Murders / Cards on the Table / Death on the Nile
Poirot in the Orient (Hercule Poirot)
Hercule Poirot's Casebook
Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Classic Collection, Vol. 2
Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express
Death on the Nile"
A must own for Poirot fans!
ANT | Crofton, MD USA | 12/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had begun purchasing the sets individually in three-episode DVDs until I saw this item released. For those of you concerned on pricing, just remember that each one typically retails for $20 (on the low end) and the grand total would be $240 for all 12 volumes. This is a bargain at Amazon for only $150.
All 36 one-hour episodes, shown originally on both PBS' Mystery and later on A&E are faithfully reproduced by Acorn Media. As is sometimes tragically typical with their products, the picture can sometimes be a tad grainy, but in the case of this collection it does not appear to be an issue. The packaging is solid with all 12 DVDs carefully arranged and still taking up little space (the collection is barely 2 inches wide). Those of you familiar with Poirot and the beautifully shot series will fall in love with this collection. It is a must-own!
For those of you unfamiliar with Poirot, he is based on the writings of Agatha Christie, the 20th century's most well-known and arguably best mystery writer of her time. Poirot (played as always with sheer perfection by David Suchet) is the original obsessive compulsive detective, always striving for order and method in his decor and daily life. Not only are the mysteries themselves intriguing and difficult sometimes to work out, but the play between him and his assistant Capt. Hastings and Scotland Yard's Chief Inspector Japp (Hugh Fraser and Philip Jackson respectively) is constantly amusing and a load of fun to watch.
This is the ideal collection for lovers of mystery, the 1930's, good humor and intrigue. Enjoy the show!"