David Suchet stars as Agatha Christie's mustachioed mystery-solver in these four feature-length episodes from the hit series. Poirot investigates the baffling cases with the help of Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser, 'Sharpe'), Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson, 'Little Voice'), and Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran). Newly remastered, these editions capture every opulent detail of Art Deco-era Europe. Guest stars include Damian Lewis ('Homeland,' 'Band of Brothers') and Kate Buffery ('Wish Me Luck').
Hercule Poirot's Christmas-The detective's hopes for a quiet holiday are dashed when he must investigate a murder at a wealthy man's country estate.
Hickory Dickory Dock-After making several errors at work, Miss Lemon confesses that she's worried sick about a series of thefts at the hostel her sister runs.
Murder on the Links-Poirot's reputation precedes him during a vacation in France, leading to his involvement in a case of abduction and murder.
Dumb Witness-When the premonitions of two sisters come to gruesome life, Poirot and Hastings solve a murder by communicating with a silent witness.
Hercule Poirot and his detecting skills have been a welcome addition to my Blu-ray collection. As I've said in my past Poirot reviews, I admire Acorn Media for diligently bringing a somewhat obscure television series like this to Blu-ray and following through season after season. They didn't stop at the first couple series sets, they just kept going. Now we're up to 'Series 6' and it's just as good as ever.
The sixth series returns 'Poirot' to its proper form of having each mystery be feature-length. The fifth series faltered a bit because of the shorter episodes that seemed like they were over before you even grasped the characters and their relationships. This time around there are only four mysteries and each of those averages out to be over 100 minutes long. They're involved, well-constructed, and there is more than enough time to sit back and ruminate about the plot.
This series finds the quirky detective from Belgium celebrating Christmas in the first episode. In the episode "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" Poirot wants to spend time by himself, celebrating the holiday, but is instead called off to investigate a wealthy man's family. The man is a mean, cantankerous old coot who is convinced one of the guests that he has invited for Christmas is going to kill him. Indeed someone does and it's up to Poirot to figure out who.
The four episodes in this series follow the same formula we've come to expect from the show. Poirot is called in to investigate, he interviews witnesses and suspects, notices strange things that go unnoticed by the police and then eventually gathers all the involved parties together for the big reveal.
While the mysteries are still extremely hard to figure out, the real fun comes in watching Poirot, with all his eccentricities, deal with the people around him. His relationship with Inspector Japp is one that is the most entertaining. In a side story Japp comes to live with Poirot for a week or so while his wife is away. The two of them couldn't be more different and this leads to quite a few amusing scenes where we can see Poirot regretting that he extended the offer in the first place.
In the episode "Hickory Dickory Dock" we get a cameo from a young Damien Lewis. In this story thefts at a youth hostel seem completely random. Poirot's secretary Miss Lemon specifically asks him if he can figure out what's going on since Miss Lemon has a sister who works there. As with most 'Poirot' mysteries people start dropping like flies and our favorite detective races against time to try and solve more grisly murders.
I really enjoy these stories. Even at over 100 minutes an episode, they seem to fly right by. Watching David Suchet take on the role as Agatha Cristie's famous portly detective is always a delight. His relationships with the ancillary characters, especially Inspector Japp, are extremely satisfying. The mysteries are well-crafted. To this point I don't think I've ever been able to ascertain exactly what, who, why, and how before Poirot reveals everything at the end. Although when he does reveal the answer I'm always hard-pressed to find any plot holes or things left unexplained. These mysteries aren't as exciting and suspenseful as, say, the mysteries on BBC's 'Sherlock,' but they have their own charm. And with Suchet's perfect portrayal they make for a very entertaining watch.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Poirot: Series 6' has been released on two 50GB Blu-ray Discs. They're packed in a standard eco-friendly keepcase. It's coded for Region A use.
As with past 'Poirot' seasons this season doesn't disappoint in the video department. Coming from the mid-90s it's only natural that we expect some softness in the picture. Softness is there and at times the presentation shows its age, but it wears it well.
Detail remains superb during close-ups. A great example is the well-oiled mustache of Poirot. We can see the individual hairs making up the curled whole as they turn ninety degrees and continue straight up. Freckles, smile lines, and small blemishes on the skin can be readily seen. Textures like houndstooth jackets and Poirot's smooth tuxedos are instantly recognizable. Shadows are strong and are light when it comes to crush. Blacks are deep and resolute. Grain can be heavy at times, especially during flashback sequences. Also, whites tend to bleed slightly into surrounding colors.
The only real drawback here is the occasionally soft scenes which usually take place in long-range shots where the camera is trying to fit every character into the same scene. There are also scenes where stock footage is used that are clearly not the same quality of the principle footage – dirt and grime on these few shots is frequent. Other than a couple minor gripes the rest of the season looks smooth and accurately reflects the time period that Poirot inhabits.
'Series 6' continues on with the 2.0 mix contained here is pretty underwhelming. Like past seasons it delivers dialogue clearly but that's about all it does. The music is a bit too loud and it ends up drowning out sound effects. The effects themselves, like crashing furniture or gunshots, sound hollow and a little too brash. Hopefully we can get to a time in the show where it catches up with the Master Audio track that was offered on the standalone 'Poirot' mystery 'Murder on the Orient Express.' Until then we're saddled with a mix that gives us pretty clear speech, but little else.
There are no special features provided.
As long as Acorn keeps putting them out I'll keep adding them to my collection. Whether you're a Agatha Christie fan or simply like a good whodunit then 'Poirot' is a great television show to get involved with. One of the great things about it is that you can jump in at any time and still know what's going on. You may not know the intricacies of his relationships with Inspector Japp or Captain Hastings, but you'll still know what's going on and you'll still enjoy the ride. 'Series 6' is recommended for these reasons.