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Blu-ray Reviews

Agatha Christie's Poirot: Series 4 Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 26 Matt Hough

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Posted April 11 2012 - 09:00 AM

For the fourth series of Hercule Poirot tales, the producers opted to leave the short stories for a time and concentrate on adaptations of three of Agatha Christie’s full length mystery novels featuring the renowned Belgian sleuth. Luckily for viewers, the producers selected three titles from Mrs. Christie’s golden age: the 1930s and 1940s. The three novels presented here: The ABC Murders, Death in the Clouds, and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe include two Christie masterpieces (the first two) and a solid success, and all three adaptations stand tall among the variety of Poirot adaptations which have appeared over the course of the last twenty years.


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Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Series 4 (Blu-ray)
Directed by Andrew Grieve, Stephen Whittaker, Ross Devenish

Studio: Acorn Media
Year: 1992
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 319 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: PCM 2.0 stereo English
Subtitles: SDH


Region: no designation
MSRP: $ 49.99



Release Date: April 24, 2012

Review Date: April 11, 2012




The Season

4.5/5


One of the great masterpieces of detective fiction and one of the most copied and “borrowed from” stories in her entire oeuvre, The ABC Murders is one of the Poirot mysteries against which all others must be compared. A serial killer is moving throughout England, identifying himself as A.B.C., and selecting victims seemingly by alphabetical order. Not only that, but he’s bragging by letter to Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) about his intentions each step of the way telling about where his murders are going to occur and defying Poirot and the police to stop him. Four victims successively in Andover, Bexhill, Churston, and Doncaster meet their ends before Poirot finally arrives at the solution, and it’s a great surprise. Hastings (Hugh Fraser) is back from Argentina for a bit and assists Poirot along with the ever-befuddled bloodhound Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) of Scotland Yard. The excellence of this adaptation completely obliterates all memories of the thoroughly awful 1966 film adaptation The Alphabet Murders made by MGM and starring Tony Randall as the world’s worst Poirot interpreter. Unless one has read the book beforehand, arriving at this solution before it’s revealed by Poirot would be very difficult indeed although, in retrospect, all of the clues are there and second and third viewings prove that the producers are playing more than fairly with their audience.


Death in the Clouds is every bit as wonderful as The ABC Murders. Here there is no serial killer, but rather an audacious murder of a despised moneylender is committed in an airplane’s first class cabin in full view of six passengers on their way from Paris to London. As Poirot is one of the inhabitants of the cabin (sleeping at the time of the murder), he naturally falls under slight suspicion when the body is discovered, but Inspector Japp then turns his attention to the other five passengers: three men (an archaeologist, a dentist, a mystery novelist), two women (Lady Horbury and her best friend Venetia Kerr), and the two flight attendants (Jane Grey and Henry Mitchell), any of whom were free to move about the cabin during the flight and stab Madame Giselle in the neck with a poison dart. Once again, the TV-film is completely faithful to the book, and the denouement is a complete surprise and quite an ingenious solution to the crime, another of Mrs. Christie’s first-rate puzzlers.


Hercule Poirot’s second adventure of the 1940s (though the program is set in the late 1930s as usual), One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, is also first-rate and pales only in comparison to the masterpieces which precede it in this package. In this one, Poirot learns that his dentist has been found with a bullet in his head only a few hours after Poirot’s dental appointment concluded. At first glance, he appears to have committed suicide, but Poirot and others have no reason to believe he was despondent in the least, so attention turns to his other patients and visitors during that morning leading to the mysterious disappearance of one and the death of another. Mrs. Christie has crafted a cunning puzzle, but her techniques of misdirection this time are reminiscent of a couple of earlier mysteries and don’t have quite the freshness that the first two stories in this set possess.


As always, David Suchet is a positive delight as Poirot, at this point so completely immersed in the character that his every flicker of emotion in his face or his body language is timed to perfection making the viewing all the more delightful. Hugh Fraser is only on hand for the first of the set’s stories, and he has a very funny running gag with a stuffed caiman he’s brought back from South America. Otherwise, he seems rather slower on the uptake than usual in this one. Philip Jackson’s on hand for all three adaptations and is more than welcome as Chief Inspector Japp who as usual must rely on Poirot to sort out all of the complexities of these cases. Pauline Moran’s Miss Lemon does not appear in any of these stories.



Video Quality

4/5


The programs are all framed in their original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and are presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. These are major upgrades in pictorial quality compared to the previously released DVDs of these individual titles. Color timing is much truer and brighter with hues that seem much more pleasing to view with excellent saturation levels. Flesh tones are usually realistic but in individual shots may appear a bit pink. Sharpness is not razor-edged or aggressive but rather a more graceful sharpness that gives the images a period feel that’s quite appealing. No signs of age such as dust specks are present, and all of the aliasing and moiré from the previous DVDs are gone here. In dark scenes, the image sometimes gets more noticeably grainy than in brighter shots and occasionally looks digital. Each program has its own chapter listing: 12 for The ABC Murders and 10 each for Death in the Clouds and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.



Audio Quality

4/5


The PCM 2.0 (1.5 Mbps) stereo sound mix is a vast improvement on the sound mixes from the DVD releases of these programs. And how wonderful that Acorn has upped the ante with uncompressed sound on these releases! The wonderful theme music, the well modulated sound effects, and the delightful background score by Christopher Gunning sound terrific in these new encodes, and there is no hiss or any other audio artifact that intrudes on understanding the dialogue, important when verbal clues become just as important as visual ones.



Special Features

0/5


There are no bonus materials included with this set of programs.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


The fourth series of Agatha Christie’s Poirot proves just as entertaining as the previous three sets, and the improvements in video and audio quality make upgrading from the previously available DVDs a no-brainer for fans of the show. Recommended!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC


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#2 of 26 Guest__*

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Posted April 11 2012 - 04:25 PM

Im going to get them all at once..im saving my money :)

#3 of 26 Matt Hough

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Posted April 12 2012 - 12:16 AM



Originally Posted by David Steigman 

Im going to get them all at once..im saving my money Posted Image


I've some friends who would love to have these new Blu-rays, but the price right now is unmanageable. They're waiting for a sale somewhere.




#4 of 26 Virgoan

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Posted April 12 2012 - 04:08 AM

Yes, a sale somewhere....ANYwhere. Even used....

#5 of 26 moviepas

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Posted April 14 2012 - 05:08 AM

Series 5 now up for Pre-order.



#6 of 26 Matt Hough

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Posted April 14 2012 - 09:13 AM



Originally Posted by moviepas 

Series 5 now up for Pre-order.



 Yes, I saw that it was. They go back to the short story adaptations for series five, and the remaining eight are all on one disc.



#7 of 26 Guest__*

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Posted April 15 2012 - 01:31 AM

Correct me if Im wrong, but there will be a Series 6 release down the road as well ? According to my list these are the ones yet to be released Hercule Poirot's Christmas (written 1938; Granada/ITV 1995) Hickory Dickory Dock (written 1955; Granada/ITV 1995) Murder on the Links (written 1923; Granada/ITV 1996) Dumb Witness (written 1937; Granada/ITV 1996)

#8 of 26 Matt Hough

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Posted April 15 2012 - 08:34 AM



Originally Posted by David Steigman 

Correct me if Im wrong, but there will be a Series 6 release down the road as well ?
According to my list these are the ones yet to be released
Hercule Poirot's Christmas (written 1938; Granada/ITV 1995)
Hickory Dickory Dock (written 1955; Granada/ITV 1995)
Murder on the Links (written 1923; Granada/ITV 1996)
Dumb Witness (written 1937; Granada/ITV 1996)


Oh, yes, I'm sure they're coming, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see them at the end of the summer (but that's just a guess).




#9 of 26 Deepak Shenoy

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Posted April 15 2012 - 01:33 PM

I would assume that all of the seasons/series that Acorn released on DVD will eventually make it to Blu. This includes Series 11. Series 12 has already been released but not in one package. The big question is whether Acorn will be able to release series 7-10 which were released on DVD by A&E. The 12 episodes released by A&E were all edited for content, abridged, pan-and-scanned with fade ins/fade outs in all the places where commercials were shown during the original broadcasts. These episodes are the ones most in need of a proper release hopefully on Blu. I think B&N has a sale on British TV series every now and then when everything is 50% off. My plan is to wait until Series 6 is out and to get them all in a B&N sale.

#10 of 26 Guest__*

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Posted April 15 2012 - 03:01 PM

So this 6th Series should have those remaining titles and then we get the A&E ones - I own the Poirot Definitive Collection which is all the A&E episodes in one giant volume & the movie collections 4,5 & 6. My Definitive Collection has Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, etc. If Im not mistaken Collections 1,2 & 3 are in the Definitive Collection The movie collection Series 6 I just got on blu ray - but 4 & 5 arent available on Bluray as far as I can tell Im guessing at some point the A&E ones will get BluRay treatment as well My DVD collection was the Poirot Classic Collections which was everything from the Acorn series which Im getting the Blurays for now..which we are up to Series 5 with a 6th one coming at some point. It is really hard to keep track of.

#11 of 26 Matt Hough

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Posted April 16 2012 - 12:29 AM

I agree. It is very hard to keep track of with so many useless titles on the sets that don't help matters and with the discs coming from different sources. I have them all on DVD but bought them as individual sets were released (some separate TV-movies and some in boxed sets of two or four/five titles), and they all look different from one another.



#12 of 26 Guest__*

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Posted April 16 2012 - 01:26 AM

I guess the mystery with Poirot should be called " the Case of the Double and Triple Dip" I did a ton of research over the past year to see what titles are on what set and saw the compilation box sets which had everything .

#13 of 26 JParker

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Posted May 29 2012 - 10:18 AM

Oh, yes, I'm sure they're coming, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see them at the end of the summer (but that's just a guess).  

And you posted today at the Series 1 that you just got Series 5 and will review. While that Blu isn't on sale, this one is along with Series 1 -4 today at Amazon.com. So click on "Buy it now" under Matt's name on the bottom of the review or the "see it" on the far right. I know there was a post on another Series that the price is too high, well now is your chance.

#14 of 26 Virgoan

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Posted May 30 2012 - 05:35 AM

And you posted today at the Series 1 that you just got Series 5 and will review. While that Blu isn't on sale, this one is along with Series 1 -4 today at Amazon.com. So click on "Buy it now" under Matt's name on the bottom of the review or the "see it" on the far right. I know there was a post on another Series that the price is too high, well now is your chance.

Ah, what a joy! AFFORDABILITY! Ordered the first four "series" sets in Blu ray!

#15 of 26 JParker

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Posted May 30 2012 - 10:31 AM

Ah, what a joy! AFFORDABILITY! Ordered the first four "series" sets in Blu ray!

I only got Series 4, I'd already purchased 3 but not on sale! But 1 and 2 luckily were on sale. Good for you. Bob Harris, eat your heart out. :)

#16 of 26 Deepak Shenoy

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Posted May 30 2012 - 10:37 AM

Me too ! Pulled the trigger on Series 1-4. I wanted to wait for the B&N sale but this is a better deal. Hope series 5 & 6 (the latter scheduled for an 08/14 release) also become affordable before too long and then I would have the entire classic series before they changed the style and tone of the show (starting with series 7). I like those later episodes too but they are not as much fun as what I call the classic episodes. Also not sure if Acorn has rights to series 7-10.

#17 of 26 JParker

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Posted May 30 2012 - 11:12 AM

Me too ! Pulled the trigger on Series 1-4. I wanted to wait for the B&N sale but this is a better deal. Hope series 5 & 6 (the latter scheduled for an 08/14 release) also become affordable before too long and then I would have the entire classic series before they changed the style and tone of the show (starting with series 7). I like those later episodes too but they are not as much fun as what I call the classic episodes. Also not sure if Acorn has rights to series 7-10.

I think you'll just have to watch the HTF review page for price changes on Series 5; that isn't part of the sale. But give it 6 months or "Black Friday" and it will be. Or after I buy it! *sigh* :rolleyes:

#18 of 26 Deepak Shenoy

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Posted June 01 2012 - 04:57 AM

I know Deepdiscount has fallen out of favor with members here (and for a good reason) but they have a 25% sale going on now. All the Poirot series sets are selling for less than $24 (for BD) including the yet to be released Season 5. I wonder why Series 6 is taking so long to show up for pre-order in the US. It has been available for pre-order on Amazon.ca for a couple of weeks now. -D

#19 of 26 JParker

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Posted June 01 2012 - 10:30 AM

I know Deepdiscount has fallen out of favor with members here (and for a good reason) but they have a 25% sale going on now. All the Poirot series sets are selling for less than $24 (for BD) including the yet to be released Season 5. I wonder why Series 6 is taking so long to show up for pre-order in the US. It has been available for pre-order on Amazon.ca for a couple of weeks now. -D

No clue; maybe because 5 isn't even out yet...

#20 of 26 GlennH

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Posted June 01 2012 - 02:55 PM

I know Deepdiscount has fallen out of favor with members here (and for a good reason) but they have a 25% sale going on now. All the Poirot series sets are selling for less than $24 (for BD) including the yet to be released Season 5. I wonder why Series 6 is taking so long to show up for pre-order in the US. It has been available for pre-order on Amazon.ca for a couple of weeks now. -D

Thanks. I couldn't find Series 4 on DeepDiscount searching for "Poirot" - I found it using the UPC number. It's labeled as only "SERIES 4." They have the upcoming Series 5, but the artwork isn't for the Blu-ray.





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