Agatha Christie: Poirot-Complete Second Series (1989)

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Released 6-Feb-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio
Notes-FIlmographies, essays and biographies
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 504:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andrew Grieve
Edward Bennett
Renny Rye
Brian Farnham
Studio
Distributor
Acorn Media Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI ? Music Christopher Gunning
Stephen McKeon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    David Suchet is, in my opinion, the quintessential Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's most famous sleuth. He has now played the role since 1989 (in an on again off again manner) racking up over 50 episodes with more on the way. Some of the more recent episodes (which are movie length) have been released locally by Roadshow and I have previously reviewed the very first series from 1989 which has been released locally by Acorn Media. This new four disc set includes the second series of 10 episodes from 1990. These episodes are all approximately 50 minutes in length. Suchet's grasp on the intricacies of the character is very evident in these episodes. His performance here as the fastidious, intelligent and politely sarcastic Poirot is wonderful. Unlike more recent Poirots this series features three other recurring characters, Poirot's fairly dim associate Capt. Hastings (Hugh Fraser), his personal secretary (and sometimes sleuthing partner), Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran) and Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard (Phillip Jackson). Japp and Poirot have a difficult but ultimately respectful relationship. This set is divided into two volumes (of two discs each). I do not have the actual packaging, however, I believe each volume is packaged in a double amaray which are then stored in a slipcase.

    The episodes are set in the mid-1930s and feature much of the art deco style of the period, both in terms of the sets (such as Poirot's apartment) and in the show's credits. In keeping with the running time, these episodes seem to be based on short stories rather than novels and mostly are lacking some of the complexity of the longer form later episodes. The first two episodes are in fact a double episode which helps to make that the standout story of the set. Regardless, there are certainly some very entertaining and intriguing episodes here. In detail the episodes included are:

  1. Peril at End House Pt 1 (51:04) - Poirot & Hastings are on holiday in Cornwall when they meet a young lady who owns a local house. Someone seems to be trying to kill her.
  2. Peril at End House Pt 2 (51:02) - Continues the excellent first episode.
  3. The Veiled Lady (48:58) - A lady wearing a veil wants Poirot's help to retrieve a letter from a blackmailer. Poirot gets in trouble with the law.
  4. The Lost Mine (51:20) - A Chinese businessman goes missing when he is visiting London & Poirot's bank. His business involves a Silver mine in Burma.
  5. The Cornish Mystery (48:06) - An older woman thinks her husband is poisoning her. Poirot goes to visit her in Cornwell but by the time he arrives she is already dead.
  6. The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim (51:27) - A bank director leaves home to post some letters and meet a business associate arriving on the train. He disappears on his way there. Japp challenges Poirot to solve the case without leaving his apartment.
  7. Double Sin (50:58) - Another excellent episode in which Poirot is bored and thinking of retiring. He takes Poirot to visit the seaside and while there they meet a young woman on a bus who is carrying expensive antiques. When they get stolen Hastings must investigate as Poirot says he has retired.
  8. The Adventure of the Cheap Flat (50:07) - A mysterious flat is advertised for lease very cheaply but everyone who applies is turned away except a young couple called Robinson. An FBI agent is in London investigating the theft of government plans for a new US submarine.
  9. The Kidnapped Prime Minister (51:03) - A attempt is made on the Prime Minister's life and then shortly afterwards he is kidnapped on his way to a conference in France. Poirot is called in to investigate.
  10. The Adventure of the Western Star (50:31) - A famous Belgian actress visiting London asks Poirot to help as she is receiving blackmail notes demanding the return of a large diamond her husband obtained for her.

    Recommended for Poirot fans and fans of English mystery generally.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is better than Season 1 but still pretty average.

    The show is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non-16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite soft and reasonably grainy (esp. in darker scenes) throughout but sharper than Season 1, with some low level noise. The shadow detail was average to poor The grain sometimes breaks into macro-blocking especially in backgrounds.

    The colour was reasonable for the age of the show but certainly dull by modern standards. There was also some white bleeding.

    Artefacts are quite prevalent including some specks, flecks and hairs, tape tracking issues, edge enhancement, some aliasing and evidence of excessive noise reduction.

    There are no subtitles on these discs.

    I did not notice any of the layer changes.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is fine.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly fairly easy to understand but the lack of subtitles was certainly felt in some scenes.

    The score by Christopher Gunning is very good but is getting somewhat dated these days. It features a memorable theme tune.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are text based only and some are repeated on all discs.

Menu

    The menu design is simple, featuring music and a still. Unlike the previous season there were no menu issues.

Disc 1

Text Extras

    There are text extras including David Suchet & Agatha Christie bios, filmographies for the three main cast members plus guest stars, an essay on Poirot, an essay on Inspector Japp and one on Hastings.

Disc 2

Text Extras

    This disc repeats some of the extras from Disc 1 and adds some of the extras from Season 1.

Disc 3

Text Extras

    This disc repeats some of the extras from Disc 1 and adds filmographies for guest stars.

Disc 4

Text Extras

    This disc repeats some of the extras from Disc 2 and adds filmographies for guest stars.

 

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series has been packaged very differently in Region 1 with mixed episodes from each season rather than season by season sets. Accordingly it is very hard to compare. I believe our local release is based on the Region 2 releases which seem to be the same.

Summary

    A great series of mysteries starring David Suchet as the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot.

    The video quality is better than Season 1.

    The audio quality is fair.

    The extras are restricted to text based essays and filmographies.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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