on November 20, 2011
In 1988 LWT (London Weekend Television) would make television history and start producing what would be THE definitive version of Agatha Christie's Poirot to air in 1989!
Now ITV, current owner of LWT programs, went back to the original film elements and remastered them in HD. Yes, there are subtitles.
Agatha Christie's Poirot Series 1 features these 50 minute short stories:
1 1-01 08/Jan/89 The Adventure of the Clapham Cook
2 1-02 15/Jan/89 Murder in the Mews
3 1-03 22/Jan/89 The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly
4 1-04 29/Jan/89 Four and Twenty Blackbirds
5 1-05 05/Feb/89 The Third Floor Flat
6 1-06 12/Feb/89 Triangle at Rhodes
7 1-07 19/Feb/89 Problem at Sea
8 1-08 26/Feb/89 The Incredible Theft
9 1-09 05/Mar/89 The King of Clubs
10 1-10 19/Mar/89 The Dream
While 16mm will never look as sharp as 35mm, if you directly transfer the original 16mm camera film elements they will always look better & sharper than the older DVDs mastered from 16mm film copies made form 16mm negatives. The camera originals are sharper than the copies.
Any POIROT set is just plain GOOD murder mystery. Agatha Christie suspense perfect. David Suchet acting excellence. Combined they make any British Mystery viewer salivate. Add top guest stars in each, SUBTITLES for the hearing and dialect challenged, and kick in some of the best filmed period mystery ever produced. It's what fans have come to expect with Poirot, Agatha Christie, Masterpiece Mystery, and the untouchable as Hercule Poirot--David Suchet.
The Blu-rays and new DVDs are newly remastered and restored to their original U.K. broadcast order. This is wonderful mystery TV, never to get out of date. You WILL love every feature-length episode.
The original 10 late 1930s era episodes (WITH SUBTITLES) in original June-March 1989 order. Period costumes as accurate as the Art Deco sets. David Suchet begins his masterful role as Hercule Poirot with the supporting cast of associate Hastings (Hugh Fraser-Bretts: The Complete Collection); CI Japp (Philip Jackson-`Robin of Sherwood'); and Sec. Lemon (Pauline Moran) as well as numerous episode guest stars.
1 THE ADVENTURE OF THE CLAPHAM COOK: Poirot's unimportant domestic case is searching for Todd's (Brigit Forsyth) cook Eliza (Freda Dowie-The Brontes of Haworth) gone lost. She's inherited and moved to near Carlisle, her trunk left at the station. Dermot Crawley's (`Bleak House') character may be involved.
2 MURDER IN THE MEWS: Poirot helps Japp on a Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes Day) suspicious suicide. Look for David Yelland (`The Bretts') and James Faulkner (First Among Equals).
3 THE ADVENTURE OF JOHNNIE WAVERLY: Waverly's (Goeffrey Bateman) wealthy wife Ada (Julia Chambers) wants Poirot's help when kidnap threats reach a peak.
4 FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS: Two brothers die within days Poirot witnessed one, an artist, dining out in a most uncharacteristic manner. Poirot puts his little gray culinary cells to work. Brief nude model (Holly De Jong- Lytton's Diary Complete Collection `Titmuss Regained'). Also see Hilary Mason & Richard Howard (`Love in a Cold Climate').
5 THE THIRD FLOOR FLAT: Poirot is ill plus bored enough to investigate a shooting in his own building flats. Gray cells on the home stairs helps Scot. Yard. Suzanne Burden (`Bleak House') and Josie Lawrence appear.
6 TRIANGLE AT RHODES: See Greek island scenes & costumes instead of the normal London fare. On holiday, Poirot investigates a poisoning of a hotel guest (Annie Lambert). An affair makes Douglas (Peter Steeelen) suspect. Poirot look further--like wife Marjorie (Angela Down-`Emma'), Burns (Timothy Kightley, & Pamela (Frances Low- `Gosford Park').
7 PROBLEM AT SEA: A cruise (see a period yacht) lovelier than a fatal chest wound of a female (Sheila Allen) passenger. Plenty of suspects all with alibi. At least Poirot's clues are all aboard. Victoria Hastead, John Normington, Roger Hume, & Ann Firbank all add star power to the suspects.
8 THE INCREDIBLE THEFT: An industrialist (John Stride-`Lytton's Diary') must convince His Maj.Gov. of his fighter plane's worth & his sincerity after a past scandal. He baits Vanderlyn (Carmen Du Sautoy) a Nazi spy, and his wife (Claran Madden-`Fortunes of War') begs Poirot for security. Phyllida Law plays Lady Isabelle and John Carson (Emma) her spouse. My favorite episode in the first ten.
9 THE KING OF CLUBS: A murder man (David Swift) & a solving clue is a single card. Is a director (Jonathan Coy-`Rector's Wife' `Pillars of the Earth') involved? The stars (Niamh Cusack) (Gawn Granger)?
10 THE DREAM: "King of Pies," Farley dreams of suicide. He asks Poirot if someone could manipulate him to do it. His death matches the dream. Suspect is Farley's daughter (Joely Richardson-`Lady Chatterley').
on February 29, 2012
What a treat 'Poirot' is on BD! I can't believe how clear and crisp the image is on BD. I was a little worried since I had read that this show was originally filmed on 16mm, which is half the size of regular 35mm. Acorn to my approval this time has put a lot of care into the product. I have issues with them for releasing the same product in different packaging three times in about 10 years, but invest in the BD and you will be happy. Everyone knows how good most of these shows are so I will not give that type of review. I own some of the A&E films on SD DVD and there is an extraordinary difference between them and the BD just in contrast alone. The blacks are black and the colors dazzle. I would love some kind of special features, lets get interviews with David and the gang or license some of the BBC stuff that was filmed about the series (found on YouTube), something! Acorn has dropped the ball in that department. If you are on the fence about upgrading, don't be, do it and you will be happy just like me. I am a little perturbed at Amazon and their adjustable pricing they practice, like how these were 44 dollars when they came out, but less than a month later, they are half the price?!?!? Use your little grey cells and snatch them up now before the price goes up Mon Amis!
on February 29, 2012
As great as it was 10 years ago to have the early Poirot adventures on DVD, there was a significant caveat. The transfers from film to DVD produced a visual quality that was disappointing--murky, dull, fuzzy, with a unique and unwelcome pinstriping effect in many of the shows. I always blamed this on the 16mm film format that the show was shot on. (Baffling to me that they wouldn't shoot on 35mm, considering all the loving care that went into the costumes and sets and scenery.) Well, I was wrong. Apparently those crappy looking DVDs were the result of human ineptitude, not the film format. Because the new transfers to Blu Ray--while not up to the blazing standard of contemporary high def--are crisp and clean and quite handsome. The 16mm does the stories justice. I've only looked at a couple of the episodes so far, but wow, they look good. You will see details and colors that you've never seen before. One thing that another online reviewer noted was that this first season of episodes was overlit, and that's right. They're rather bright and flat-looking. Apparently, the lighting becomes more subtle and three-dimensional as the show proceeded. Still, that's just a niggle. On the whole, I'd say any Poirot fan who wants the see the show at its best should make the upgrade to Blu Ray. BTW, there's a cool little clip online on the restoration of the early Poirot shows; just Google "Poirot 16mm ITV."
on March 24, 2012
It's fun to go back and watch this series from the beginning. Having recently seen latter-day Poirot episodes--which can be quite dark and moody--these first episodes are delightfully light and entertaining. David Suchet's mastery of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective was apparent from the outset. He hadn't yet perfected his mince, or his OCD, but he clearly was meant for the role. Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon are also pitch-perfect early on.
The best thing about this set is the image quality. It is my understanding that the show was shot on 16mm film, but the clarity of the AVC encode shows how 16mm can look fantastic in the hands of skilled cinematographers. I had only ever watched this show on DVD, and this set is a significant upgrade.
The calculus is simple. If you are a Poirot Fan and own a Blu-ray player, you must buy this set! Don't argue. Just buy it.
Agatha Christie's Poirot is without a doubt the perfect marriage of actor and role, along with excellent writing, perfect casting, mind boggling cinematography and a musical score that is as much a character in the show as anyone else. David Suchet is of course the BEST Hercule Poirot and it is unthinkable that anyone else would attempt to portray him after 23 years of owning the role. The first 6 Series of Poirot are what I personally consider as "Classic Poirot" and feature Poirot with all 3 of his regular supporting characters (Miss Lemon, Capt. Hastings and of course Chief Inspector Japp)
along with the absolutely stellar writing of both Clive Exton and David Horowitz (among a few others) and the perfectly suited score written by the great Christopher Gunning.
The photography is top notch, the production design flawless, costumes perfect and direction inspired. It just doesn't get any better than this for fans of classic Agatha Christie period mystery.
With that said, my Poirot Blu Ray Series reviews will focus mainly on the video/audio quality of the discs, along with menu functionality and overall physical presentation/packaging.
So really, if you already own the DVD sets you might be asking is it REALLY worth the money to purchase Poirot again?
My answer is three simple words: yes, Yes....YES!!!!!
This review is for Series 1 which consists of 2 BD50 discs providing 1080p/24 video and Dolby Digital Stereo (actually a MONO track) at a decent sounding bit rate. You get a very nice slip case that covers the plastic inner Eco case and all slipcovers match the other sets and look great together in a bookcase setting. There are episode titles on the slipcases and more detailed (albeit short) episode descriptions on the rear of the inner plastic case.
I want you all to know this is the THIRD time I have purchased Poirot on Home Video. After first watching on PBS and then A&E, I purchased the two Region 1 NTSC (USA) DVD box sets with every single episode. Not satisfied with the picture quality I sold those sets and upped the ante by purchasing the mega Poirot cube from England in PAL format which gave me a very nice bump in overall picture quality.
But being a major Poirot/David Suchet fan, it was a no brainer to again upgrade my Poirot collection with the Blu Ray releases.
I currently own all 6 Blu Ray sets for Series 1 thru 6 and can tell you that Series 1 has the weakest video quality of them all. This is not to say it is poor. Not by any means. Poirot looks the very best I have ever seen it on these discs. By the time you get to Series 3 the video quality reaches a peak and stays that way for the remaining Series sets.
Basically the color is great, the image is stable and there is plenty of detail. At times it appears DNR had to be used to eliminate video noise and that will at times take away facial details. There are also a few episodes that contain scenes that are "washed out" looking and not up to what you might expect. These are VERY FEW and ALL of the episodes have many "WOW" moments in them in regards to video quality. Contrast levels at time suffer just a bit, but again they are so few and far between that I am only mentioning this for the very picky few. (of which I am one) Whether or not this has to do with the condition of the source materials, the original production techniques or just the first effort by Acorn to put Poirot on Blu Ray, it really is no big deal. Overall these episodes look STUNNING to anyone who has suffered with watching the original USA DVD's. It is a night and day improvement and I found myself cheering out loud more than once as I gleefully watched each episode on this set. Honestly, 16 MM has NEVER looked better!
And if you plan to collect them all, as I have , you will soon see that starting with series 2 the increase in picture quality will send you over the moon and by Series 3 it is just totally killer! I am telling you this in advance in case you may be just a bit underwhelmed with what you see. Again, It is REALLY good, just not quite at the same level as subsequent series as far as the video rendering is concerned.
How about the audio? Ok, on Series 1 (and Series 2) we again get the least bump in quality as far as the audio on these sets go. It is presented in Dolby Digital, rather than DTS HD or Dolby Tru HD. In fact, the subsequent sets starting with Series 3 are presented with uncompressed PCM. Poirot never had killer sound design and until the movie length episodes took over later on it was always in MONO. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the audio on this set. It is as good or better sounding than either my American or British DVD sets and serves the stories well. Honestly, with the extreme bump in picture quality, you are instantly sucked right into the stories and everything that was old is new again.
I only have two complaints about Poirot on Blu Ray. #1: We are given the very cheap and flimsy "Eco cases" for our beloved Poirot and I for one have come to loathe them. #2: There are NO special features other than being forced to watch over 3 minutes of Acorn promo spots for other series. The main disc menu is not accessible on my Oppo BDP-93 until I either let them play, or hit the chapter skip at least 5 times. To have to put up with this each and every time I want to watch one episode is maddening and is NOT appreciated. Phooey to Acorn for this! I can forgive them though because my favorite detective is finally presented as he should be in glorious high definition.
Extremely lush , vivid and crystal clear picture, uncompressed audio (after Series 1) with much less shelf space needed! These Poirot Blu ray sets, either individually or in the soon to come Poirot Blu Ray Box Set are simply a MUST HAVE for all fans of this series. If you do not own an HDTV or Blu ray player and are a Poirot fan, this is your excuse to rush out and buy them! My very highest recommendation for ALL the Poirot Blu Ray Sets.
on April 17, 2012
I'm a big Poirot fan and originally acquired all the episodes and movies on DVD. When this first set came out on Blu Ray, I picked it up just to see how much of an improvement it was. I compared numerous specific scenes and frames, and the difference is stunning. The picture is much more vivid. The colors in the clothing, women's makeup, etc. are much brighter. In one scene, a decorative screen can be seen in the back corner of the room. On the DVD version, it just looks like a really dark (almost black) hazy looking screen, with only a slight hint of any pattern on it. On the Blu Ray, it is clearly burgundy in color and has an intricate pattern on it. Now I'm planning on upgrading the entire collection to Blu Ray. They are releasing the sets at a rapid pace, and the price is reasonable for the number of episodes on each set. I'd definitely recommend these.
on June 17, 2014
I ordered series 1 not knowing anything about this Agatha Christie "Poirot". In fact, I thought it would be rather boring but thought I'd give it a try. It was anything BUT boring!!!! By the end of the second feature on series 1, I was at my PC ordering series 2,3, and 4, then 5 and 6 shortly thereafter, all from Amazon! The writing is very clever leaving you wondering "who did it" almost to the end and always with twists and/or turns along the way. The actor portraying "Poirot" is well suited to the character. That mustache! OMG, how cute it is. His funny little shoes, how he walks, how impeccably dressed he is even at the beach and how he works those little gray cells to perfection! Too much! All very enjoyable.
The supporting actors are great too, especially "Japp" who always seems bewildered at Poirot's thought processes! Hastings, the lovable buffoon who is never right about anything and the ever efficient Miss Lemon--they all make the series most excellent! You can even learn a some French phrases by watching and then Goggling!!! Good clean mysteries with no foul language or sex. Highly recommended!
on May 1, 2012
When I read some time ago that they were transferring these very familiar programs to Blu-ray, I thought "hmmm really?" knowing that they were filmed in tiny 16mm format, and never intended to be seen on anything more that standard TV screens. But wow the stars really aligned on this project, as they went back to scan the original Panaflex camera negatives and digitally restore them. The results are just eye-popping and keep knocking my proverbial socks off. As often happens with HD digital restorations, all kinds of detail and depth jumps out in the clothing and sets; antique cars gleam, and the colors in women's outfits shines. Its startling to see how much effort was made in the production which was impossible to see at the time. I've just finished watching Series 4 and they keep getting better. Now I'm praying that they do the same thing to the original Marples.
on May 1, 2012
Here the Poirot series Blu-rays really begin. I had heard that Poirot was airing remastered older episodes in HD in the UK for a while now, but I had not seen a single one aired in the USA. I guess work had been done to remaster the episodes for broadcast, but I didn't know that there was such grand plans for blu-ray releases. Wow wow wow, The picture quality. All the versions of this show I had seen on DVD or occasional broadcasts, the colors seemed off of or the detail of the shots seemed off and I always dismissed this based on the shows age. Incredibly, with proper remastering, these old 16mm film TV shows have a soft and grainy picture that I absolutely love.
The picture and audio quality are now a great improvement. The Audio is 224kbps I believe in Season 1 (With Season 2 moving up to 256kbps, and Season 4 moving to 1.5mbps) but very crisp and clear. The English subtitles are a pleasant surprise too, for picking up the odd quips and inside jokes that I never once understood after years and years of watching this show. Simply Amazing.