“I don’t trust people who read or write books, Monsieur Poirot.”
David Suchet (Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal) has portrayed author Agatha Christie’s most famous fictional detective, Hercule Poirot, since 1989. Agatha Christie’s Poirot has been a staple of the PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! for years, with audiences eager to watch the Belgian (not French!) detective as he ferrets out mysteries set in the 1930s. Poirot: Series 12 contains four feature-length Poirot mysteries as seen on PBS, presented in the original United Kingdom broadcast order.
* “Three Act Tragedy”
Poirot is compelled to investigate when two murders with similar executions happen among his acquaintances.
* “Hallowe’en Party”
A young girl boasts of having witnessed a murder only to end up dead hours later.
* “Murder on the Orient Express”
Snowbound with temperatures plummeting, it’s a race against more than time when Poirot must determine who murdered the man in the train compartment next to his own.
* “The Clocks”
A woman walks into a room and finds not only a dead body but four clocks all stopped to read the same time.
You don’t get to keep playing the same character for almost a quarter century randomly. It’s clear to anyone who’s ever watched one of the Poirot mysteries that David Suchet is the reason to keep watching. His portrayal of Hercule Poirot is deceptively simple. Poirot remains nearly unflappable regardless of the circumstances. He is marked by a tendency to constantly refer to himself in the third person, to walk with the assistance of a very fine walking cane, and to ask what seem to be inane questions whose worth is only revealed during his story-ending expository speech, another hallmark. The notable exception to this composure is saved for when he has been deceived. Then his temper explodes. And though it may only burn briefly it burns shockingly bright.
Fans of the crime drama would do well to check out Series 12, as it contains four different types of mysteries and thus can appeal to a broad range of fans.
There are two only caveats. First, don’t expect any of these mysteries to be comparable to the crime drama shows based in the here and now. There are no forensics, no buddy cops, no ticking clocks of doom as an entire city if not nation is under threat of annihilation. There’s deduction here, not destruction. Second, these episodes have been released on DVD before, which may be a deterrent to purchasing them.
In terms of the technical specs the good news is these four mysteries are separated across two discs. However, I am a bit disappointed to see one of my pet peeves present, which is very nearly blown-out white levels. I find them exceedingly distracting, especially during the interior shots where I can concoct less of an organic reason for their existence. The audio is a simple Dolby 2.0 which does its job but doesn’t rise above the track’s needs.
The special features are twofold. First is a featurette and the second a photo gallery. The featurette is by far the more compelling of the two as it showcases series star David Suchet aboard the actual Orient Express. His near giddiness at the experience helps separate him from the role of Poirot and provides an even deeper appreciation of his portrayal of the long-running character.
Longtime fans of Poirot will likely snatch up any release they can get their hands on. If you’ve never experienced the world famous Hercule Poirot, Poirot: Series 12 is a good introduction. I would wait for the Blu-ray releases, in the hopes of more special features.