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Agatha Christie Hour: Set One

3.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

As seen on PBS’s Mystery!

Tales of romance and danger in the glittering 1920s and ’30s

How can “happiness expert” Parker Pyne return a wayward husband’s affections to his wife? Will a chance encounter on a train transform the life of a jobless investment broker forever? And why does a vision in a mirror mean misery for a beautiful bride-to-be?

In these stories, lesser-known Christie heroes and heroines solve crimes of the heart as well as puzzling cases of larceny and murder. With just the right mix of danger and deception, romance and revenge, innocence and intrigue, these classic adaptations are Christie at her best, now on DVD for the first time.

The top-notch ensemble cast includes John Nettles (Midsomer Murders), James Grout (Inspector Morse), and William Gaunt (No Place Like Home) and features Maurice Denham (All Passion SpentTHE STORIES
The Case of the Middle-Aged Wife: A housewife enlists Parker Pyne to save her marriage.
In a Glass Darkly: A WWI officer has a vision of a young woman’s doom.
The Girl in the Train: An unemployed young man takes a fateful train journey.
The Fourth Man: Three learned men debate a strange case of self-inflicted death.
The Case of the Discontented Soldier: A bored army major seeks excitement with Parker Pyne’s help.


A quintet of short stories by the unparalleled mistress of crime fiction are turned into one-hour mysteries in The Agatha Christie Hour, Set 1. What's most interesting about these episodes is that none of them are murders (well, one of them might be…); instead, they range from intriguing character portraits to whimsical comedy in a P. G. Wodehouse vein. Two feature one of Christie's lesser-known recurring characters, Parker Pyne, a retired statistician who's turned his gift for finding patterns in data to solving the problem of unhappiness. Both cases involve folk whose lives have gone flat--one, a middle-aged wife who fears her husband has eyes for his young secretary, the other a retired military officer who finds civilian life bland and tedious. With the aid of his secretary Miss Lemon and the author Ariadne Oliver, both of whom went on to appear in some Hercule Poirot tales, Pyne orchestrates adventures for his clients.

The other three stories are one-off tales, all unusual in the Christie canon: In a Glass Darkly has an outright supernatural element, as a young man has a vision in a mirror of a strangling--but only after surviving World War I and marrying the woman in his vision is the truth revealed. The Girl in the Train is a sprightly comic pastiche, a spin on spy stories like The 39 Steps, in which a hapless young gentleman gets a small parcel from a mysterious young woman and ends up foiling smugglers. But the most intriguing episode of all is The Fourth Man; a troubled reporter (John Nettles of Midsomer Murders) tells a psychiatrist, a priest, and a lawyer the story of two girls whose personalities are intertwined in a strange, metaphysically sadomasochistic relationship. Christie fans in particular will find these fascinating side trips, but you don't have to be a mystery reader to enjoy these stories. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

Biography of Agatha Christie and Parker Pyne: Before Poirot

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2010
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003AND1TG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,661 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I have been waiting for years for these programs to come to dvd! My family and I watched them on A&E many years ago when it was still a good network. The scripts are excellent, the acting superb. Rather atypical fare for Christie dramatizations, but still quite worthy. I am giving the programs 5 stars for content.

The complaint that I have is with the marketing here in America. There were actually 10 dramatizations done for The Agatha Christie Hour. This set contains only five for, at this writing, $28.99. The British set contains all 10 stories and is labeled as "the complete set". It was released only about a month ago with the same cover art (a five disc set, two stories per disc), so it's not as if our American set is a re-release or a re-think. So, again as of this writing, the British set containing all 10 stories is available from Amazon.co.uk (in case the site name is deleted, it's this site's sister site in England) ~ at a price of $31.35 after conversion to dollars from pounds and adding shipping and handling.

Our American release is saying "Set 1". Let me tell you that Acorn, the distributor, is notorious for bringing out the first part of a series and never bringing out the rest. So, assuming that they do eventually bring out "Set 2", if it is priced like set one the total price for all 10 will be $57.98. That's a far cry from the $31.35 that the Brits are paying for their region 2 release.

This pricing practice seems to be the norm (I daresay that the Brits also pay a premium for our shows). If you love British fare, as I do, you are paying a high premium when you buy their discs in region 1 format ~ and unfortunately many of their tv shows and movies are never released in region 1.
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Format: DVD
Agatha Christie has done more for British Mystery than any other writer, and this set provides some of her lesser known tales. It's not Poirot, but some of the Poirot characters first appeared in these stories. Five different mysteries, but all taking place in the 1920-30s period, and provide a look at a bit more of Christie than perhaps Poirot displays. There is more to Agatha Christie than just mystery.

The true question for this series is not Will Christie's stories be good?; but Will the acting be up to script level? Are the actor's worthy? They are. The series is cast with several British members of high achievement and fame. The 5 episodes give us interesting mixes from romance to crime. They come alive, enchanting at times, suspenseful at other times.

Episode details:
"Case of the Middle-Aged Wife": London's Parker Pyne (Maurice Denham), 'Dr. of Happiness' is engaged by a cheated-upon wife. Does it help, Mr. Pyne, to reverse the cheating participants? What's good for the George is good for the Maria. Claude is played by Rupert Frazer(The House of Eliott)

"In a Glass Darkly": A murder 'vision' is seen by a party guest causing him to suggest to the fiance that she not go through with her wedding. After serving in WWI, he returns & the prophecy takes on new meaning.

"Girl in the Train": International intrigue involving a broker, a blonde, and an encounter on the train to Portsmouth--England not Massachusetts. Mystery, comedy, romance, and adventure; Agatha Christie style.

"Fourth Man": Riding the train together from London to Scotland was a doctor, a lawyer, and a clergyman. Sounds like a joke--but not when the 4th man joins the train compartment. John Nettles (Midsomer Murders), very young, is the 4th man.
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Format: DVD
"The Agatha Christie Hour, Set 1" another classic British mystery television series, and a long-awaited one, finally arrives here. Ten episodes of it were made by Thames Television for Britain's ITV (independent television stations), in 1982; it was broadcast on Public Broadcasting's "Mystery!" in the early 1980s. We now get the first five stories, showing another, softer side of, possibly, the world's most famous and beloved practitioner of British mystery writing. They arrive in a boxed set of two disks, running approximately 257 minutes, with, happily, subtitles, and an interesting feature on Christie's early non-Poirot work.

The series was based on short fiction by Dame Agatha, the mistress of mystery; all the episodes are set in the 1920s and `30's, and do not feature her signature detective Hercule Poirot. However, interestingly enough, they feature some characters that carry over to the Poirot stories, most notably Miss Lemon, Poirot's secretary/assistant, and Ariadne Oliver, a fictional, successful detective novelist who much resembles her creator. The production is blessed with the meticulous attention to detail that used to characterize British TV: costumes, transportation, interiors are accurate, and the location photography is excellent. The stars are worthy of their settings: they include a young John Nettles (Midsomer Murders: Set 15); the respected Maurice Denham (All Passion Spent); a handsome young Rupert Frazer (
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