Poirot: Collector's Set 4
brings viewers three more excellent episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot,
starring David Suchet as the diminutive Belgian detective. Acorn Media has been
consistently releasing this series on DVD, much to the satisfaction of Poirot
fans: so far we've seen Collector's Sets 1, 2, and 3 containing the
fifty-minute episodes, as well as the Movie Collection and Movie Collection 2
with the feature-length episodes.
The three episodes included in
this volume pick up where Set 3 left off, with "The Million Dollar Bond
Robbery," "The Plymouth Express," and "Wasps' Nest"
from the series' third season in 1990-1991. All three are adaptations of short
stories written in the 1920s, and are fine examples of how Christie's short
mysteries lend themselves well to the 50-minute format. All three stories are
entertaining and well paced, with interesting plots that develop over the
course of the episode and result in an interesting, and always surprising,
Interestingly, all three
stories in this collection have Poirot involved in some way before a crime
actually takes place. "The Million Dollar Bond Robbery" gets Poirot
tangled in the world of high finance, with a London bank setting out to
transport the title sum without it being stolen... a crime that would ruin the
bank if it occurred. In "The Plymouth Express," a rich and aging
father implores Poirot to check up on the highly suspicious suitor of his only
daughter. And in "Wasps' Nest" Poirot sets his little gray cells the
task of solving a devious and complex crime before it happens. Needless to say,
Poirot is in fine form in all three stories, and the entertaining secondary
characters of Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), and
Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) also appear.
Watching these episodes, it's
easy to see how Agatha Christie became the "Queen of Crime," with her
deftly sketched, memorable characters, and entertaining plots. It's also very
easy to see David Suchet as the archetypal Hercule Poirot, capturing his
fussiness and eccentricities while also his essential good-heartedness and, of
course, his extremely sharp mind. Poirot ranks up there with Sherlock Holmes as
one of the most memorable fictional sleuths, and Suchet carries off the role with
While the content is excellent,
I confess to a great deal of disappointment when it comes to the image quality
of these episodes. I wouldn't have thought that the prints would have degraded
extensively in only about ten years since their original broadcast, but
whatever the reason, the DVD transfers are decidedly lackluster.
The overall image tends to be
brownish or grayish, with colors looking very bland. Edge enhancement is
apparent, and a fairly large number of print flaws appear in the form of small
speckles and flecks in the image.
The episodes are presented in
their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The overall audio quality was
quite good for all three episodes. The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack provided a clear,
accurate presentation of the dialogue with no background noise or distortion
apparent. The lively theme music was well-balanced with the rest of the track.
We get a short text piece on
the various actors who have played Poirot, and the same minor assortment of
features as on the other Poirot DVDs: biographies of Agatha Christie and David
Suchet, and cast filmographies.
Any viewer who has enjoyed the
earlier Poirot DVDs will find this set a necessary addition to their
collection; the disappointing transfer but certainly watchable. The episodes on
Set 4 can certainly be viewed out of order, though, and may very well
prove to be a good starting point for viewers who are considering joining
Hercule Poirot on his cases. Recommended.