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Poirot - Hickory Dickory Dock

Acorn Media // Unrated // February 5, 2002
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted February 17, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, has been the protagonist in quite a few film and television adaptations of Christie's works, including the long-running British television production starring David Suchet as M. Poirot. Thanks to Acorn Media, these mysteries, previously only seen on PBS or the A&E channel, are now coming to DVD in a steady progression. Hickory Dickory Dock is a prime example of why the series merits a DVD collection: it's great fun.

While Poirot has solved mysteries all over the world, Hickory Dickory Dock finds him tackling a puzzle that's close to home. His secretary, Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), has confided to him that her sister has been troubled by a series of puzzling thefts at the London student hostel where she's the housekeeper. Poirot knows an interesting situation when he sees one, so he's more than happy to investigate. But as theft turns to murder, both he and Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) realize that there's more at stake than anyone realized.

Following the best tradition of mysteries, in Hickory Dickory Dock it's not a question of solving a single puzzle... as one thread of the mystery is traced to its source, several others appear. Few characters are exactly who they appear to be; hidden motives and shady secrets abound, and it's up to Poirot to ferret out the truth. And, of course, he reveals the solution to the crime in a classic Christie drawing-room scene, with all the suspects assembled to hear his process of deduction. A touch of humor is included with a side-story involving a culture clash between the well-meaning Poirot and his friend Japp. This thread of the story is handled well so that it remains a minor note in proportion to the main body of the plot.

Mystery films always have to walk a fine line when it comes to letting the viewer see the clues to the solution. Show too few clues, and the conclusion will feel like it came out of nowhere; show too many, and it will be too easy to guess the solution ahead of time. In Hickory Dickory Dock, we can see the excellent craftsmanship of the film in this respect. Viewers are shown just enough clues to be able to make theories as the story develops, and to be able to say "Oh – that makes sense!" when Poirot reveals the perpetrator. At the same time, the clues are presented in a subtle enough manner that it's not at all obvious, even up to the final scene, "who did it."

Video

Hickory Dickory Dock, which was produced for British television, is presented on DVD in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The picture is quite clean and free of noise, and in general is very clear and moderately sharp. Colors are natural-looking and fairly robust; contrast suffers occasionally in very dark scenes but for the most part is quite good as well. A touch of graininess appears in some scenes, such as a few of the outdoor shots, but on the whole Hickory Dickory Dock makes a very respectable showing.

Audio

There's not much call for surround sound in a movie like Hickory Dickory Dock, so the Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is more than sufficient. The music soundtrack is kept fairly low-key, complementing the dialogue and action nicely while never overpowering it. Dialogue is the prime mover of the storyline, of course, since valuable clues are dropped in conversation (to be picked up by Poirot and the attentive viewer), and the soundtrack presents the dialogue clearly and cleanly.

Extras

We get about the same menu of special features as are offered on other Poirot DVDs from Acorn Media: biographies of David Suchet and Agatha Christie, cast filmographies, trivia, and some text informational material on Christie.

Final thoughts

Hickory Dickory Dock is well-plotted and fun to watch from beginning to end, making this DVD a must-buy for mystery lovers. And if you're intrigued by the Hercule Poirot mystery series, Hickory Dickory Dock is a great place to start.
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Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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