Now that we're into the fifth series of 'Poirot,' as released by Acorn Media, you should know exactly what to expect going in. Agatha Christie's famous obsessive-compulsive detective is played brilliantly by David Suchet. Each episode of the show takes on a separate mystery as Hercule Poirot gathers the clues, investigates the witnesses, and whittles down the suspects. Watching 'Poirot' makes for an enjoyable time.
While I'll still always be a fan of the Suchet 'Poirot' series, I feel like the fifth series is a steep decline compared to the previous series that have come out. The biggest reason for this is that the fifth series of the show is one of the only times that there weren't any feature-length episodes within the season. When cut down to only 60 minutes or so, the show becomes rushed and the mysteries are hardly explored before Poirot has figured everything out.
That's how I felt during each episode in this series. Starting with "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" the stories all seem extremely rushed. In the first episode Poirot is employed to travel to Egypt to investigate the mysterious deaths surrounding an archeological dig. Poirot is soon confronted with dangerous obstacles and people, but in no time flat he's solved the crime, leaving us wondering just how he did it so fast.
In the feature-length episodes the story is allowed to simmer while Poirot work his "little gray cells," furiously trying to figure out whodunit. In the 60 minute episodes we're left with what seems to be a good outline for a mystery, but it needs to wrap up so fast that we never get a grasp on the characters or the mystery.
The beginning of the series is also missing Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) who is always a welcome presence. He and Poirot have great chemistry together and form an unlikely bond, seeing that many amateur detective stories always feature the detective and policeman at odds with each other. Japp enjoys Poirot's company and his advice. I was happy to see him return to a recurring role after the first few episodes.
In series four Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) took some time off from the show, but returns here and takes on a role that seems much more involved than he usually is. He's still usually the comedic relief, but he seems to have more screen time even when considering the shortened nature of the episodes.
I'll always like the idea of popping in 'Poirot' to take in some Suchet for the evening. The mysteries are usually fairly well thought out, even though they always arrive at the big explanation scene at the end. The formula for 'Poirot' has been firmly established and hasn't budged since season two.
You're a fan of the show if you're interested in the fifth series. Acorn Media should be commended, however, on their dedication to bringing each and every 'Poirot' episode to Blu-ray. The fifth series may not be as good or as inventive as past seasons – it really follows the show formula to a T – but it's still an enjoyable way to spend some time in the early evening. I'll welcome all the 'Poirot's I can get on Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
There are eight total episodes in this season and they are presented in the original U.K. broadcast order. They are pressed on two 50GB Blu-ray Discs and kept in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The release comes with a slipcover.
Below is the episode list:
1. "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb"
2. "The Underdog"
3. "Yellow Iris"
4. "The Case of the Missing Will"
5. "The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman"
6. "The Chocolate Box"
7. "Dead Man’s Mirror"
8. "Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan"
The fifth time around 'Poirot' looks as good as it did with the fourth series. The visuals have gotten progressively better as time has passed – which was to be expected – we're now getting our source material from 1993.
The image looks just as crisp and clear as it did in the fourth series. Yes, there are some soft spots. I'm afraid those won't go away until we get later on in the show. However, detail is stunning in some parts. As the camera zooms in on Poirot's puzzled, but stoic face, it's easy to see the individual strands of hair that make up his famous mustache. Pores, age-lines, and wrinkles are easily distinguishable. Softer shots happen during establishing, or landscape shots. There are a few moments where stock footage is used (very heavily in the first episode) which has a completely different look and quality from the rest of the show. The stock footage is marked with spot and noise and, for the most part looks pretty terrible compared to the rest of the show.
Colors are mostly well saturated, if not a little washed out (again probably due to the age of the source material or the equipment that was used to shoot it). Skin tones are even and natural, except a few episodes where flesh takes on a reddish-pinkish hue. Blacks are deep, but sometimes noisy with white blips and other inconsistencies. If you saw the fourth series on Blu-ray then you'll know what to expect from here.
I've never been overly impressed with the 2.0 PCM mixes provided for the 'Poirot' series and here it's no different. You get exactly what you get from the previous season. Dialogue is presented clearly, but music seems a tad low as do sound effects like gunshots and punches. Without surround sound you don't get the encompassing feeling you might have had it been included. I wondered what the busy Egyptian dig site would've sounded like had there been a few more channels involved. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. For a two-channel track it works rather effectively, but as always, it seems like the show could sound better.
There are no special features included.
I'll gladly collect each and every season of 'Poirot' even if some of the seasons end up being as average as the fifth season. I still love the characters and find it an entertaining way to pass a few hours. I can't say enough about Acorn and their dedication to this series (among many others). With so many TV shows getting spotty releases on Blu-ray, it's nice to know that we have a distributor out there devoted to their fans. This release should make those fans fairly happy.