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'Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 7 & 8'
(David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2013 / Acorn Media)

Overview: Agatha Christie’s beloved detective solves complex cases with flair and finesse in these four feature-length mysteries from the hit series. Set amid the unparalleled elegance of the Art Deco era, these beautifully remastered adaptations star David Suchet as Poirot, Hugh Fraser (Sharpe) as Captain Hastings, Philip Jackson (Little Voice) as Chief Inspector Japp, and Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon.

DVD Verdict: I have been a HUGE fan of David Suchet's 'Poirot' for many, oh so many years. Indeed, so long I cannot think of another actor that has portrayed him on TV before DS took over the role?! Anyway, in this short season 7 and 8 (just two episodes per season), the old gang is still here with us re: 'Captain Hastings' (Hugh Fraser), 'Chief Inspector Japp' (Philip Jackson), and 'Miss Lemon' (Pauline Moran).

Coming at us in the original UK broadcast order up first is 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd' (2000) in which a supposed-Killer's voiceover from their diary takes us through why they did it. At this stage, Poirot has left his other offices and has "retired" to the countryside. He is invited by a dear friend of his, Roger Ackroyd - a prosperous industrialist - to a fancy dinner party. But, as you would expect, he dies just after the party has ended and soon Poirot is investigating his old friend's death. And called in from London is his mate, Chief Inspector Japp and when they meet, well, it is genuine love and happiness!

In the second of the two episodes from season 7, 'Lord Edgware Dies,' Poirot has left the countryside behind and is back in his old offices! His friend, an unloved aristocrat believes his wife is having an affair. And more so decides to make his thoughts plain during a William Shakespeare play starring his wife! Captain Hastings is now back from Argentina and so takes his place alongside Poirot once Lord Edgeware is found dead! Everyone seems to have an alibi and Japp is getting hot under the collar. The actual killer is buried very nicely in the subplots, so be aware!

In the season 8 opener, 'Murder in Mesopotamia' (2001), the detective travels to Egypt for a vacation, but quickly finds himself being summoned to an archaeological dig. If only for a tour, some food and a cot for the night, he quickly goes back to his own luxury hotel in the city. But the very next night a woman (who was getting threatening letters of death from her dead husband!) is mysteriously murdered there and so he makes his bumpy ride way back there to investigate. Hastings is with him as he has work there too, so together they wear as much three-piece clothing as possible - and yet don't sweat a drop!! Lovely, if not dusty scenery and all shot on location. As for the killer, well, I defy you to pick them out even two thirds of the way through! That said, Poirot's big reveal at the end is simply waaaaaaaaaay too drawn out!

In the second and final episodes of season 8, 'Evil Under the Sun' (a true Agatha Christie classic if ever there was!), a young girl is found dead in the woods just as a Vicar's sermon talks of death to all harlots. Hastings has opened up his own restaurant, El Ranchero and invited everyone to dine. But Poirot mysteriously collapses at the table and is rushed to hospital. It turns out he is overeight ("clinically obese") so he takes a sabaticle down to Devon (just next to Cornwall) to partake in a fortnight at a health hotel called Sandy Cove! Soon the body of a beautiful young woman is found on the beach and he is suddenly put to work (as usual!). Watch out here for an incredible over-the-top contraption that takes the customers from the beach to the water-surrounded island! This episode also stars a very young Russell Tovey ('Being Human' UK). This is a great yarn, with some subplots that actually work too! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.