Acorn Media started with 'Murder on the Orient Express' (an episode from the twelfth series) , but has now circled around to the beginning. It's always nice when TV shows, especially older ones, end up coming out on Blu-ray. Far too often we see distributors and studios opt to bring out the later seasons, but never the earlier ones. Here Acorn is appeasing the fans by going back and remastering the series along with putting each episode in its original U.K. broadcast order. If you're a fan of David Suchet's 'Poirot' then these sets are exactly what you want to see happen.
There was a slight hiccup however. With the earlier releases of 'Murder on the Orient Express' and the 'Poirot: Movie Collection Set 6', Acorn has found itself without a twelfth series. The question is, once they circle all the way around back to those films, are they going to package them all together in a Series Twelve release? Or leave them as is? If they leave them then our 'Poirot' collections might be complete but they won't be uniform.
Suchet is a masterful Hercule Poirot. Sorry 'Monk' but there was an obsessive-compulsive detective before you came along. Well before you came along actually. The 'Poirot' stories begin in London in 1935. Each story closely follows the tales of detective Hercule Poirot as written by famous mystery author Agatha Christie.
Poirot is a fun, interesting character. The movie and television world is full of detectives so it's all about distinguishing your detective from the herd. Christie has created an obsessive-compulsive who likes the finer things in life but also finds time to solve complex crimes. He refers to himself in the third person and has an ego equal to none even though his quiet demeanor may not telegraph such hubris.
The first series of episodes, which is 10 mysteries in all, was filmed in 1989. The first series was still trying to find its footing, but its non-formulaic approach to the detective genre was refreshing. It wasn't until the second season where the 'Poirot' formula swung into full effect. The formula I'm talking about is Poirot's penchant for assembling every person together at the end for the big reveal. In these first ten episodes Poirot does things a bit differently.
Usually, it seems, that these amateur fictional detectives always have a counterpart that actually works for the police. It's true with Sherlock Holmes and another Agatha Christie detective Miss Marple. What I like about 'Poirot' is that his police counterpart, Inspector Japp, actually likes Poirot's company. They're friends and their banter back and forth is amusing. It isn't like the strained relationship that Sherlock has with Lestrade.
Many of the later episodes in the 'Poirot' series center on a murder and the nefarious characters surrounding it. In the first series we get a few episodes that don't begin with a murder by an unknown assailant. One of my favorite of the series has to do with a kidnapping which is called "The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly."
If you're a fan of 'Poirot' then these sets are a must. Unlike many TV Blu-ray distributors Acorn has decided to go back and release each of the 'Poirot' sets in order. As a fan I'm ecstatic at the notion of having my shelves one day lined with as many 'Poirot' mysteries as I can pack on them.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Acorn has condensed things a bit. The 'Poirot: Movie Collection' came in a bigger box. Each movie had its own Blu-ray keepcase. There were only three episodes, but there were also three discs. Here we have 10 episodes packed onto two 50GB Blu-ray Discs. They've been stored in a standard Blu-ray keepcase which has disc hubs on the front and back covers. Included is a slipcover which has a slightly different design on the back cover than the case does. The slipcover simply lists the mysteries provided whereas the cover gives brief synopses for each one. The set has been coded for Region A use only.
Here is the list of 10 episodes that you'll be getting with this set:
1. The Adventure of the Clapham Cook
2. Murder in the Mews
3. The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly
4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds
5. The Third Floor Flat
6. Triangle at Rhodes
7. Problem at Sea
8. The Incredible Theft
9. The King of Clubs
10. The Dream
It's understandable that this series of 'Poirot,' shot on 16mm film in 1989, would look somewhat weathered and I was prepared for it. The age of the film does show through as colors appear a tad washed out and black levels waver constantly.
Still, detail is much better than I expected it to be. From the finely greased tips of Poirot's mustache to Captain Hasting's tweed jackets, the detail here is quite noticeable considering the age of the source material.
Fine grain is visible, and it should be if it were filmed on 16mm. Sometimes the grain washes out detail and plays havoc in the darker areas of the picture, but that's just par for the course when you're talking about this series' source. The grain adds a nice, natural filmic structure to each episode. Personally I'd rather have the bit of grain presented here versus the overly digital look of today's TV shows.
This isn't a crystal clear presentation. There is noise in places, and each episode does indeed show its age. However, it appears that Acorn has been careful with these remasters, because I didn't notice any glaring compression artifacts or anything that would point to Acorn cutting corners to bring this show to Blu-ray. Fans should be proud of the way the show looks.
Acorn provides a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track for this series, which does leave a lot to be desired. It would've been nice to have a lossless track for starters, but this is what we have.
Considering the lossy aspect of the 2.0 mono track that has been provided, it still does a decent job at relaying the sounds of the show. Poirot's heavily accented words are more or less clear, depending on what is going on around him. I noticed a few times where music and the sounds of busy streets and hotels seemed to drowned out the principle dialogue, but that was pretty few and far between. For the most part dialogue is clear and intelligible. There's not much more to talk about when it comes to the audio mix provided. It's a straightforward mono track that replicates speech well enough for you to enjoy the show.
There's nothing fancy going on here, but at least you can hear everything that's going on.
There are no special features provided, just a whole load of Acorn Media previews for other shows.
I've only ever seen 'Poirot' played by David Suchet, but after seeing him play Christie's loveable detective I don't think I ever want to see another actor take on the role. He's perfect and the show is still fun after all these years. For people that love U.K. television, or adore Agatha Christie this set is for you. It comes recommended.