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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Poirot Set 9'
(David Suchet, Hugh Fraser / DVD / NR / 2004 / Acorn Media)

Overview: Marvelous mustachioed Hercule Poirot stamps out evil with savoir faire to spare in this British television production that became a hit on both the PBS Mystery! series and A&E. Based on the fiction of Agatha Christie and starring David Suchet as the definitive Poirot, the series features great ensemble acting, witty scripts, and gorgeous period sets and costumes. The dapper, diminutive Poirot and his lanky assistant Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) sort out cases in and around 1930s London.

DVD Verdict: Having sung the praises of Sets 1-8 of the Acorn Media releases of 'Poirot', I can find little to add about the general excellence of this series, which offers up the shorter episodes on VHS and the longer ones on DVD format. With 3 of the projected 12 sets to go for the shorter entries, Set 9 offers up a trio of fairly strong tales. "Dead Man's Mirror" concerns a ruthless millionaire who outbids Poirot on a mirror at an auction and then dangles the item as bait for the detective to investigate a case of fraud. There is much ado about inheritances, a second (unsigned) will, possible murderers, dinner gongs, and shots behind locked doors. And if the ending is far fetched, who cares? This one needs total concentration. "Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan" is lighthearted and contains a wonderful spoof on the mystery plays popular in Christie's own time. You will enjoy not only the usual good characterizations by the supporting cast but also the very imaginative camera shots inside a chest of drawers. "The Case of the Clapham Cook" hangs on a hoax that is a bit overly complicated, since the perpetrator could have accomplished his aims in a far less roundabout way; but then there would have been no plot. The use of disguises, fine in the original stories, often does not work on video, because it is too easy to spot the face behind the beard. All in all, superior viewing for an evening. This is a Full Screen format (1.33:1) and comes with the Special Features of both Agatha Christie and David Suchet biographies, cast filmographies, and Agatha Christie materials.