This torrent was uploaded from www.TheBox.bz (signup is open and free) - the home of all British TV
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Collector's Set 11 DVD Review
By A.J. Carson
In 1920, thirty-year-old Agatha Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, an eccentric Belgian detective. Over the next fifty-six years, Christie produced an astonishing eighty novels, thirty short story collections, fifteen plays, and six romance novels under a pseudonym. Her works have sold over a billion copies in English and an additional billion in another forty-four languages, outsold by only the Bible and Shakespeare.
With such prolific output and instantly recognizable name value, it should come as no surprise that Christie's works have become popular source material for film and TV. Beginning in 1989, British actor David Suchet brought her Belgian detective to life in a series of TV adaptations based on the author's thirty-three Poirot novels. With the DVD release of Agatha Christie's Poirot: Collector's Set 11, fans of this PBS and A&E favorite can revisit three of the detective's mysterious cases. In "The Third Floor Flat," a bored Poirot, sick with a cold, becomes energized when a murderer strikes close to home - two floors below Poirot's Whitehaven Mansion flat, to be exact. In "Triangle at Rhodes," Poirot encounters murder, deception, and marital infidelity while vacationing on a lovely Greek isle. Death apparently does take a holiday when Poirot again encounters murder while on holiday in "Problem at Sea." This time, the detective and his sidekick, Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser), must solve a case aboard a ship cruising the Mediterranean.
Viewers expecting the hard-boiled mysteries of Cracker or Prime Suspect may want to look elsewhere. Poirot is genteel and leisurely. In all three installments, the murders do not even take place until around the half-hour mark of the fifty minute episodes. The mysteries are secondary to the characterizations of Poirot and the people he encounters. The episodes are also filled with wry, gentle humor. In "The Third Floor Flat," not having stumbled upon a murder in three weeks, Poirot attempts to alleviate his doldrums by attending the theatre with Hastings. The production is a poorly acted whodunit, and Poirot confidently writes down the name of the killer during intermission, handing the slip to Hastings for safekeeping. When the play's denouement implicates an out-of-left-field assailant, the disgusted Poirot complains that the playwright has cheated, crafting a solution that hinges on information that the audience was not given, thus making the crime impossible for them to solve. The episode then cheekily employs the same technique in wrapping up its own mystery, winking at the audience over the genre's ridiculous conventions. In "Triange at Rhodes," it is implied that Poirot is often able to solve cases not based on his skilled deductive reasoning but simply because he is nosy.
Since the mysteries are not very mysterious, surely many fans are attracted to this series because of the work of David Suchet. With his slightly hunched walk, snippy French accent, and moustache that more closely resembles two miniature black swans floating on his lower lip than it does facial hair, Suchet brings Christie's beloved character vividly to life. When we first see Poirot in "The Third Floor Flat," he is bent over a steaming tub of water with a towel draped ungracefully over his head, trying desperately to reduce the symptoms of his cold. The episode takes place over twenty-four hours, and by its end, his cold has been forgotten. Solving the crime relieved his symptoms much quicker than potions did. Poirot even denies having ever had a cold, claiming that he does not get sick. Suchet's haughty delivery of that claim perfectly encapsulates his portrayal of the character: dignified, yet silly.
Although obviously made on a budget, the episodes nevertheless have impressive production values. With its impeccably designed costumes and its 1930s art deco trappings, the series creates a vivid sense of time and place. Aiding greatly is Christopher Gunning's flavorful music and creative use of on location filming. Agatha Christie's Poirot may not suit all tastes, but is sure to please fans of this particular style of mystery.
The DVD's menus are simple and functional. Viewers can choose to play the individual episodes or jump directly to a particular scene using the "Scene Index" menu.
Video and Audio
Shot in a soft focus style and with a slightly washed out look, each episode displays a fair share of scratches, nicks, specks, and other minute flaws. None of these flaws are overly distracting, however, and all in all, these episodes are quite in keeping with other British shows on DVD.
The audio is adequate, but a bit thin.
There are no subtitles or captions.
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Collector's Set 11 contains a handful of extra features, all of which are text-based. The first is a five screen biographical interview with star David Suchet. This brief sketch touches on his life, but mostly deals with his portrayal of Poirot.
Agatha Christie is given a four screen biography. An additional three screens give a chronology of all her novels featuring Hercule Poirot.
Finally, there are individual filmographies on Suchet, Hugh Fraser, and guest stars Philip Jackson, Suzanne Burden, Frances Low, and John Normington.
None of these extras are particularly exciting, but fans should enjoy reading about Suchet and learning more about Christie.
It's not Charlie's Angels or NYPD Blue, but the mysteries presented in Agatha Christie's Poirot: Collector's Set 11 still manage to be a charmingly pleasant diversion.
Some of the other rather spiffing shows available now and always if you signup free @ www.TheBox.bz:
Comedy: The Office, Peep Show, Coupling, Chef, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, The IT Crowd, Brass Eye, Nathan Barley, Young Ones, Monty Python, Blackadder, Alan Partridge, Father Ted, Coupling, Little Britain, Mr Bean, Extras, Green Wing, Mighty Boosh
Drama: Casualty, Holby City, The Bill, Hustle, Skins, Shameless, Ashes To Ashes
Game/Quiz Shows: Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Have I Got News For You, Deal Or No Deal (UK), Q.I.
Education/Documentary: Planet Earth, Horizon, Panorama, Mark Thomas (Comedy) Product
Food: Hell's Kitchen, Jamie Oliver, The F Word, Kitchen Nightmares, Masterchef, Great British Menu, Gordon Ramsay's Cookalong
Home/Property/Garden: Property Ladder, How Clean Is Your House?, Changing Rooms, Grand Designs, Homes Under The Hammer, To Buy Or Not To Buy
Motoring: Top Gear, Fifth Gear
Music: Top Of The Pops, Jools Holland, Glastonbury
Reality: Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!, Any Dream Will Do, Grease, Pop Idol, Wife Swap, X Factor, Badger Or Bust, Apprentice UK, Dragons' Den, Britain's Got Talent
Sci-Fi: Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Torchwood, Primeval
Sport: Football (Soccer), Cricket, Rugby, Snooker, Darts, Formula One (F1GP)