Agatha Christie’s Poirot S01E08 The Incredible Theft (1989) – 7/10 period crime drama TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): David Reid
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
John Stride: Tommy Mayfield
Carmen Du Sautoy: Mrs Vanderlyn
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Edward Bennett
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott
Executive Producer: Linda Agran

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S01E08 Incredible Theft, The (1989)

Poirot is invited to make sure that aircraft plans vital to national security aren’t stolen but, wouldn’t you know, they are.

7/10

"But we must put on it a brave face, heh, and not allow cheerfulness to keep breaking through!" – Hercule Poirot

A lot to enjoy with Poirot in particularly good spirits. The mystery isn’t for anyone who watches these kind of things regularly but it’s the cheerfulness that provides the entertainment. Hastings gets a great scene moaning about Japp’s bedroom habits and, as already mentioned, Poirot is in a fun mood; teasing Miss Lemon, happily polishing his shoes, satisfyingly bristling at being called a “froggie” and even stealing police cars. As a bonus for boys, there’s an explosion and an useful car chase. Poirot finishes with the above sarcastic sentiment but it’s intriguing to see that a lack of cheerfulness, or even humanity, would characterise and undermine the poorer episodes of this classic series.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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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 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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Agatha Christie’s Poirot S01E09 The King of Clubs (1989) – 6/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Arthur Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Writer (Dramatisation): Michael Baker
Script Consultant: Clive Exton
Niamh Cusack: Valerie Saintclair
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Renny Rye
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott
Executive Producer: Linda Agran

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S01E09 King of Clubs, The (1989)

A much-disliked movie producer is found dead by his leading lady, Valerie Saintclair, but her subsequent actions are too well witnessed for Poirot.

6/10

Bit of a surprise to see Poirot allow being called French (by Sean Pertwee) to go without correction and SPOILER allow someone to get away with a crime. It’s always fun to see Japp think he is out-performing Poirot’s little grey cells ("You mustn’t get discouraged Poirot. When you’ve been around as long as I have…"). Suchet is spot on, Philip Jackson does his thing and Hugh Fraser’s Hastings is, as always, perfect ("You’re onto something, Poirot. I’m dashed if I know what it is.") So while this is one of the weaker hour-long’s, it’s still a fun, entertaining murder mystery and there’s a lovely closing shot that reinforces why: the relationship between Hastings and Poirot.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains adult dialogue and mild unpleasant and gory scene.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s02e05 The Cornish Mystery (1990) – 7/10 period crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Captain Hastings: Hugh Fraser
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Miss Lemon: Pauline Moran
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
Chloe Salaman: Fred Stanton
John Bowler: Jacob Radnor
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Edward Bennett
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s02e05 The Cornish Mystery (1990)

Mrs. Alice Pengelley arrives in London to confess to Poirot that she believes her husband is poisoning her. Poirot takes the case and tells her that he and Hastings will follow her to Cornwall the following day. When they arrive, however, Poirot is horrified to find that she died shortly before their arrival.

7/10

Poirot is never really presented with clues or a mystery so dramatiser Exton has to concentrate on the character bits and pieces to make it entertaining. He succeeds. David Suchet gets an awesome scene with a doctor who keeps interrupting him (you can literally see all the sentences piling up inside Poirot’s face, it’s wonderful) while revealing that Belgium has a thing against rice. Hugh Fraser’s Hastings displays an improvised brilliance (in the confession scene) that truly impresses Poirot and gets his best “I say!” of the entire series and probably the best in the entire history of the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Suchet is the ultimate Poirot but Hugh Fraser is the ultimate Hastings.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot S03E09 The Plymouth Express (1991) – 7/10 period murder mystery TV review

Cast / crew
Writer: Agatha Christie
David Suchet: Hercule Poirot
Hugh Fraser: Captain Hastings
Philip Jackson: Chief Inspector Japp
Pauline Moran: Miss Lemon
Writer (Dramatisation): Rod Beacham
Script Consultant: Clive Exton
John Stone: Halliday
Kenneth Haigh: McKenzie
Julian Wadham: Rupert Carrington
Alfredo Michelson: Comte de la Rochefour
Marion Bailey: Jane Mason
Shelagh McLeod: Florence Carrington
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Andrew Piddington
Executive Producer: Nick Elliott

Poirot, Agatha Christie’s S03E09 Plymouth Express, The (1991)

When Florence Carrington, the daughter of a self-made millionaire, is murdered on the London to Plymouth Express and her extensive and valuable jewelry collection taken, Poirot becomes involved as he had been previously asked to cast an eye over her latest suitor. However, the two obvious suspects in her death, the latest suitor and her broke soon-to-be ex-husband, simply do not work for Poirot. The critical clue is clearly an insistent attempt to buy a late edition daily newspaper (as opposed to an early edition) by Florence shortly before her death but what can it mean?

7/10

There are less little pieces of character business in this episode (though I did enjoy Hastings almost calling a Frenchman a “frog” in front of Poirot) but the director paces the thing so beautifully that when Poirot starts preparing for the finalé you are sure you should still have a good twenty minutes of sleuthing to go. That’s the beauty of the one hour format, the episode are consistently crisp and fast-moving. When the series moved to the two-hour format, it lost much more than (the extra hour) it gained.

This Poirot, Agatha Christie’s episode contains unpleasant description of death by knife and violent and unpleasant scene.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot s06e01 Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1994) – 6/10 period crime detective murder mystery TV review

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Cast / crew
Hercule Poirot: David Suchet
Chief Inspector Japp: Philip Jackson
Writer (Original Novel): Agatha Christie
Writer (Dramatisation): Clive Exton
Vernon Dobtcheff: Simeon Lee

Agatha Christie’s Poirot s06e01 Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1994)

“For Poirot it will be a quiet Christmas.” Poirot’s powers of prophecy are not as finely tuned as his powers of deduction as he finds himself – thanks to a heating malfunction in his own apartment – staying at the home of the odious Simeon Lee who believes that his life is in danger. Sure enough, Lee is brutally murdered soon thereafter.

6/10

While the mechanics of the locked-room murder are agreeably ingenious, Clive Exton fails to bring much of his usual humour and humanity to the script and doesn’t disguise the fact that Poirot couldn’t possibly know what he knows at the end (he could know the murderer and the method but not the murderer’s mother or where she was staying). Exton also fails to successfully present any of the suspects as genuinely having the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime. A bit weak, then, but still watchable thanks to David Suchet’s Poirot and Philip Jackson’s Japp who hadn’t yet lost their humanity and friendship in their performances ("Ah, Chief Inspector! You have been thinking again; I have warned you of this before.").

This Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode contains bad language, blade violence, inferred strong violence, unpleasant scenes

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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