'Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 9'
(David Suchet, Toby Stephens, Aidan Gillen, Edward Fox, Phyllis Logan, Barbara Flynn, Judy Parfitt, Marc Warren, JJ Feild, Paul McGann, Gemma Jones, and Emily Blunt, 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 and include appearances from Toby Stephens, Aidan Gillen, Edward Fox, Phyllis Logan, Barbara Flynn, Judy Parfitt, Marc Warren, JJ Feild, Paul McGann, Gemma Jones, and Emily Blunt.
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 season 9 (with four feature-length tales included), sadly the old gang has all gone! No more 'Captain Hastings' (Hugh Fraser), 'Chief Inspector Japp' (Philip Jackson), or sadly 'Miss Lemon' (Pauline Moran).
Coming at us in the original UK broadcast order up first is 'Five Little Pigs' (2003). It's a wondrous tale of how when the daughter (Lucy Crale) of a woman hanged fourteen years ago for the murder of her own husband comes asking Poirot to reopen the case - as she believes her mother (Caroline Crale) to have been innocent. Alongside some new opening title credits we seem to also have a slightly slimmer Poirot. But his little grey cells are still able and ready to tackle even the most questionable of tasks. So, he sets about interviewing all the five people involved that day back 14 years ago. Included are such actors as Toby Stephens ('Vexed'), Aiden Gillan ('Game of Thrones'), and Marc Warren ('Vice' UK). And the judge that day is Patrick Malahide ('Minder'), so it's chock full of great names. A true slow burner this one, but includes the great line: "Don't you think you're milking it a bit, old man?" Yes, yes, he does re: the big reveal each time, well spotted that cast member!
In 'Sad Cypress,' a murderess stands in the dock, the vocal overview given by her about why she did what she did. But Poirot is also there and doesn't believe a word of it so sets to talking to her about it afterwards. But she won't speak, just is willing to accept her fate. A real slow burner from the beginning, it seems the woman's Aunt was dying and called all her relatives to the big country house. Inclusive of Phylis Logan ('Lovejoy') and Paul McGann as the resident Doctor. Funnily enough, Poirot is in the same village on vacation in his tiny, but neat country cottage and so gets called in, of course. Set in 1937 it also is notable for the fact that it includes a CGI effect like none other I've ever witnessed in these mysteries! Quite shocking, actually! And so Poirot must race against time to discover the truth behind the beautiful young socialite before she hangs. Oh, and this one also stars the oh-so-lovely Kelly Reilly ('Above Suspicion') as a possible suspect.
In the next episode, 'Death on the Nile' (2004) we get yet another pure Agatha Christie classic to unravel. Starring Emily Blunt ('Looper'), David Soul ('Starsky & Hutch'), and Frances de la Tour ('Rising Damp'), Blunt (as an American heiress here) takes the man from a lesser-social ladder girl and decides to go on a cruise. The girl though won't let them be and hassles them wherever they go - even on the cruise ship down the Nile! And, of course, Poirot is in town, on (another) holiday and was already booked to ride the boat too! We jump on and off the boat with them, watch as they woman suffers some near-fatal misses. But soon the woman is killed in her bed with a gun shot to the head, the man is shot in the leg, and someone else gets shot too! As for who did it, well, it's truly a crime of passion, but not quite what you're thinking. And this one also stars the lovely Felicate Du Jeu ('Waking The Dead') as a maid. Oh, and for the first time Poirot actually rues the missed relationships he's not had in his empty-save-for-crime life!
In the final episode of season 9, 'The Hollow,' Poirot is on another holiday (!!!) and again to the countryside. Whilst there he stays in a little cottage next to a huge mansion - a mansion where the Angkatell clan have come together. Another slow burner, but when a Hollywood actress Veronica Crane shows up and seems to know the young man betrothed to another "tamer" girl there, claws seem to come out - especially as he is found shot dead that very next day! And so Poirot is summoned to untangle the family’s love affairs in the quest for his killer. Sadly is takes 37 mins to get to the murder which, again, is just too long! Also starring the truly wonderful James Fox as a butler everyone is a prime suspect, but this isn't one of AC's best, sadly. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.