Agatha Christie: Poirot-Complete Third Series (1989)

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Released 2-Apr-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio
Filmographies
Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 504:06 (Case: 502)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Andrew Grieve
Edward Bennett
Renny Rye
Brian Farnham
Studio
Distributor
Acorn Media Starring David Suchet
Case Slip 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 first and second series which have been released locally by Acorn Media. This new four disc set includes the third series of 10 episodes from 1991. 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. The waddle seems to have been improved in this season over the previous. Unlike more recent Poirot's 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). The packaging is of high quality with a heavy duty cardboard slipcover containing two double amaray cases. Each case includes an essay and episode synopses.

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. Regardless, there are certainly some very entertaining and intriguing episodes here. In detail the episodes included are:

  1. How Does Your Garden Grow (51:30) - Poirot has a rose named after him at the Chelsea Flower Show but while he is there an old lady approaches him wanting his help. She gets poisoned and Poirot investigates.
  2. The Million Dollar Bond Robbery (51:08) - Someone tries to run down a banker in the city. The bank as Poirot to investigate as they think it may be related to an attempt to steal $1 million worth of bonds.
  3. The Plymouth Express (50:45) - An Australian mining magnate approaches Poirot to help him investigate a suitor of his daughter. When she disappears from the Plymouth train things start to get more interesting.
  4. Wasp's Nest (50:57) - A different episode in which Poirot tries to stop a crime rather than solve one. A fashion model has a fiancÚ but her former lover is still in the picture.
  5. The Tragedy of Marsdon Manor (51:27) - Hotelier wants Poirot to help him with a mystery story he is writing. At the local manor, a man is recovering from an operation and his wife seems to be going mad, seeing apparitions of a dead girl.
  6. The Double Clue (49:31) - Inspector Japp is under pressure from above to solve a string of jewellery thefts in high society. He needs Poirot's help but he seems preoccupied with a visiting countess.
  7. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest (51:20) - Lady Chatterton, a friend of Poirot, wants his help because she thinks a friend of hers will be murdered by her husband.
  8. The Theft of the Royal Ruby (46:38) - Poirot investigates the theft of a jewel belonging to the King of Egypt's heir.
  9. The Affair at the Victory Ball (50:04) - Two people die after attending a ball also attended by Poirot.
  10. The Mystery of Hunters Lodge (50:46) - Poirot accompanies Hastings on a shooting weekend but quickly retires to his bed. A murder brings him out to help Inspector Japp.

Another entertaining and intriguing series of Poirot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video quality is 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 lines, edge enhancement and some aliasing.

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.

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 things from Disc 1 and adds some of the stuff from previosu seasons.

Disc 3

Text Extras

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

Disc 4

Text Extras

This disc repeats some of the things 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. These discs are all region compatible.

Summary

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

The video quality is pretty average.

The audio quality is fair.

The extras are restricted to text based essays and filmographies which are repeated from previous sets.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, June 20, 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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