Agatha Christie’s Poirot s13e05 Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (2013) – 8/10 period crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Screenplay Writer: Kevin Elyot
Helen Baxendale: Elizabeth Cole
Shaun Dingwall: Doctor Franklin
Claire Keelan: Nurse Craven
Anna Madeley: Barbara Franklin
Aidan McArdle: Stephen Norton
Matthew McNulty: Major Allerton
Alice Orr-Ewing: Judith Hastings
John Standing: Colonel Toby Luttrell
Captain Hastings: Hugh Fraser
Anne Reid: Daisy Luttrell
Philip Glenister: Sir William Boyd Carrington
Producer: David Boulter
Director: Hettie MacDonald

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s13e05 Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (2013)

Hastings travels to Stiles, location of his and Poirot’s first murder case together, to visit an ailing, wheelchair-bound Poirot. Fortunately, Poirot’s moustache and little grey cells are in as good condition as ever, but evil is here once more and Poirot aims to stop it.

8/10

Along with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and, arguably, The Murder on the Orient Express, this is one of Agatha Christie’s most unforgettable and surprising murderers. Fortunately, screenplay writer Kevin Elyot didn’t remove that (like ITV did with Roger Ackroyd) and the episode is crisp, involving and emotional. After the highly variable quality of the feature-length episodes, it’s nice to report that the series ends on a high. Oh, and yes, of course, ITV interrupted SPOILER Poirot’s death for adverts and, of course, the ITV announcer talked all over the deliberately silent end credits.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains adult dialogue, gory and unpleasant scenes, distressing scenes

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Doctor Who: The Snowmen (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Clara
Writer and Executive Producer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Richard E. Grant: Dr Simeon
Catrin Stewart: Jenny
Neve McIntosh: Madame Vastra
Dan Starkey: Strax
Ian McKellen: Voice of the Great Intelligence

Doctor Who The Snowmen (2012)

Hiding in the clouds above Victorian London, The Doctor has withdrawn from the hero business after going through the emotional wringer with the Ponds some time ago. An encounter with a perky barmaid, Clara, and an instantly appearing snowman made of some kind of memory snow or something isn’t quite enough to pull him out of his exile. Clara’s going to have to try a bit harder.

8/10

This is a great episode and probably the best seasonal special in the 21st century run. It’s simply tremendous fun and jam-packed with fun (santaran), scary (man-eating snowmen), imaginative (memory worm), surprising (do not read spoilers for this one), brain-tickling (one word answers) goodies which doesn’t have quite enough time for it’s monster-of-the-week story. If the finalé had had any emotional impact, this would have been near-perfect. The crux of the episode is The Doctor and the invigorating Clara and that’s all we want to see. And now we want to see more.

This Doctor Who episode contains inferred extreme violence, unpleasant and scary scenes.

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Columbo S09E04 Rest In Peace, Mrs. Columbo (1990) – 8/10 crime detective TV review

Cast / crew
Peter Falk: Columbo
Helen Shaver: Vivian Dimitri
Ian McShane: Leland St. John
Edward Winter: Charlton Chambers
Tom Isbell: Sgt. Brady
Teresa Ganzel: Dede Perkins
Michael Alldredge: Connolly
Hugh Gillin: Priest at Funeral
Rosanna Huffman: Mrs. Thornwood
Roscoe Lee Browne: Dr. Steadman
Creator: Richard Levinson
Creator: William Link
Writer: Peter S. Fischer
Director: Vincent McEveety
Supervising Executive Producer: William Link
Co-Executive Producer: Peter Falk
Executive Producer: Peter S. Fischer

Columbo S09E04 Rest In Peace, Mrs. Columbo (1990)

Vivian Dimtri kills an informant that exposed her husband’s embezzling of his client’s money. When confronted by a client, the husband ends up killing him and going to prison for manslaughter. He dies in there of a heart attack and the informant that started it all is merely the first to pay. The second murder will be the cop who put the husband away: Lieutenant Columbo.

8/10

Arguably the best of the feature-length 1989-series Columbo’s, this is also notable for being a bit of a behind-the-curtain episode. Early on, Columbo explains why he believes Helen Shaver did it then we see him present a completely different story to her face, helping her believe she is in control, giving her a false sense of security and confidence. Fascinating, and his SPOILER "this isn’t my house" reveal is a classic. Falk deals with the exposure of Columbo’s technique brilliantly here. He’s great, as always, and sells a nice mac gag (a dude leaving a brothel is wearing the same one) and delivers his world-class embarrassed throat-clear when learning of Shaver’s illicit assignation. Helping with the quality of this episode is Shaver who is frequently mesmerising as a badly wounded widow seeking retribution on Columbo and never more so than in the final scenes and in response to Columbo’s above reveal. She also gets an, er, intriguing scene with the arm of a teddy bear that I suspect everyone’s pretty smug about getting past the censors.

This Columbo episode contains adult dialogue and brief graphic violence and sensuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Alex Kingston: River Song
Michael McShane: Grayle
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)

A day trip to New York turns out badly when the book the Doctor is reading – starring Melody Malone – makes a reference to Rory getting them coffee as Rory is getting them coffee. The Doctor realises that the book is a history book sent back in time to help him avert yet another disaster but then Rory is kidnapped and taken through time to somewhere the TARDIS can’t go.

8/10

When you’ve got characters who are statues, it makes jolly good sense to go to the place with the most famous statue in the world – New York City – and this episode gets off to a good start with their big reveal. The return of the intensely unlikable and irritating River Song (a typically unconvincing eye-rolling Alex Kingston) is a problem but it’s the only one worth mentioning. The episode is otherwise tense and atmospheric and, critically, it connects emotionally. Marketed as the Pond’s farewell (though I swear they already did that last season), certain events aren’t, therefore, surprising but they are touching. It makes me wish I could share a love like this; it’s very nice. This time the logo has the Statue of Liberty behind it; subtle and rewarding to spot.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s05e05 The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman (1993) – 8/10 period crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Pauline Moran: Miss Felicity Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
Leonard Preston: Mr Edwin Graves
Anna Mazzotti: Margherita Fabbri
David Neal: Bruno Vizzini
Vincenzo Ricotta: Mario Asciano
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Brian Farnham

Agatha Christie’s Poirot S05E05 The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman (1993)

Poirot is drawn into London’s gangland underworld following the murder of the master of Miss Lemon’s new boyfriend.

8/10

Poirot: ‘Haven’t you ever exaggerated your own self-importance to impress a girl?’
Hastings: "Well certainly not. Never. Oh, well, I once told a girl I was a member at Wentworth when I wasn’t. But she didn’t play golf anyway. She thought Wentworth was a lunatic asylum."

This is a very good episode with a story that successfully gives you enough clues to point the finger of suspicion while misdirecting you wonderfully. The solid story is backed up, as is frequently the case in these hour-longs, by some wonderful writing and that lovely chemistry between Poirot and Hastings, especially, but also with Japp and Miss Lemon. Poirot is respectful and cheerful; he happily accompanies Hastings on a car shopping trip and shares his joy just like friends do. Writer Clive Exton really nailed the close friendship of the pair and never forgot the importance of humour. He gave Hastings the outstanding gag above and it’s not the only one. In fact, Hastings is awesome throughout the episode and gets to top it off with a car chase (which is quietly but brilliantly joined by a bus), a "you swine" and a classic punch on the nose.

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains gory and unpleasant scene, inferred violence, brief violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot Murder on the Orient Express (2010) – 8/10 period murder mystery drama TV review

Cast / crew
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Screenplay): Stewart Harcourt
Eileen Atkins: Princess Dragomiroff
Hugh Bonneville: Edward Masterman
Jessica Chastain: Mary Debenham
Marie-Josée Croze: Greta Ohlsson
Serge Hazanavicius: Xavier Bouc
Toby Jones: Samuel Ratchett / Cassetti
Susanne Lothar: Hildegarde Schmidt
Joseph Mawle: Antonio Foscarelli
Denis Menochet: Pierre Michel
David Morrissey: John Arbuthnot
Elena Satine: Countess Andrenyi
Brian J. Smith: Hector MacQueen
Stanley Weber: Count Andrenyi
Samuel West: Dr Constantine
Barbara Hershey: Caroline Hubbard / Linda Arden
Producer: Karen Thrussell
Director: Philip Martin

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (2010)

A miserable Poirot is called to London and boards the Orient Express. On the second night, one of the passengers is found brutally stabbed to death and Poirot is implored to investigate before the authorities arrive.

8/10

This is a surprisingly gripping, if humourless, adaptation which successfully provokes thought about the nature of justice and who has the right to execute it. Most surprisingly, it stops Poirot from delivering the traditional summation (Princess Dragamoff takes over and does it) which rather undermines the triumph of intellect required to close these stories on a high. Instead, the story ends with a cold miserable Poirot clearly feeling like he’s been backed into a corner where he had to choose the least wrong answer. It’s not the joyous revelation of the book or previous adaptations, but it is definitely interesting and a worthwhile tinkering for this screen outing of the classic Christie.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains strong violence, graphic blade violence.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot S01E10 The Dream (1989) – 8/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Arthur Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Felicity Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
Director: Edward Bennett

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S01E10 Dream, The (1989)

Benedict Farley, a wealthy businessman (he makes pies), requests the wisdom of Poirot with regard to disturbing dream he keeps having where he commits suicide at 12:28 with a revolver. He asks Poirot if he can be made to kill himself through the suggestion of the dream but Poirot cannot offer any advice due to lack of information. His puzzlement and frustration is joined by professionally dented pride when Farley is found dead the next day. Shot. At 12:28. With a revolver. Meanwhile, Miss Lemon is having trouble with the typewriter.

8/10

Though the nature of the revelation of the dream is immediately transparent to the audience and, it should be noted, to a certain extent by Poirot, the surrounding stuff including Poirot revealing a wild youth that may have permanently damaged some little grey cells (prompting a welcome "I say" from Hastings), the murder method, a clock (another "I say") and a typewriter ("Voila!") keeps the episode more than entertaining enough. And there is the tacit recognition (by Japp) that like super-villains flocking to Gotham, even when it looks like suicide, "where Hercule Poirot is concerned, there arises immediately the suspicion of murder." A lot of fun.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains mild unpleasant scene, mild violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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