At last! The Acorn Media series of Hercule Poirot DVDs starring David Suchet, restored with subtitles in the order of their original UK telecasts, is now complete with the issuing of “Poirot, Series 13.” For reasons that can only be guessed at, the Public Television stations showed four of the five, leaving those who wished to see the final episode to wait for the DVD.
“Elephants Can Remember” and “Dead Man’s Folly” are quite good, sticking mostly to the original novels. The latter can be compared with the film version of 1986 starring Peter Ustinov as the Belgian sleuth. “The Labours of Hercules” drops the framing device of the original and manages to cram three or four of the “labours” (British spelling) into a new framing device that does not quite work. But for those unfamiliar with the original (which was really a set of independent short stories), no harm is done.
“The Big Four” is Agatha Christie’s worst Poirot novel and is noted only for the appearance of Hercule’s twin brother Achille! The televersion drops this altogether, but the story is quite silly even without it. But how good it is to see Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), and Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) again.
“Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case” is very true to the book. As David Suchet explains, they didn’t have the heart to film this last; so it was filmed before “Dead Man’s Folly” to leave the cast and crew in a better frame of mind. There is a 19-minute interview with Suchet as a bonus.
So there we are. All of the Poirot novels and short stories are out and available for repeated viewings by fans and fans-to-be. Thank you, Acorn.