SET #11 (2010)
Director(s): Ashley Pearce, James Kent, Dan Reed
Writer(s): Nick Dear, Mark Gatiss, Peter Flannery, Guy Andrews
(Based on the characters/novels of Agatha Christie)
Regular Cast: David Suchet...
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Not rated.
Runtime: approx. 93 minutes per episode.
Genres: Crime drama/Mystery
MRS McGINTY’S DEAD – A seemingly open and shut case against a dead woman’s lodger still rankles Superintendent Spence so he asks for Poirot’s help to determine the lodger’s innocence, if indeed he is innocent, before the man is hanged for the crime. Poirot’s only real clues are two old photographs.
There are a few light moments in an otherwise dull, flat, and rather boring plot. Poirot’s discomfort as he endures his stay as a PG (paying guest) in a rundown house in Broadhinny is delightful as is Ariadne Oliver’s (ZoŽ Wanamaker) tussle with an author adapting one of her books to the stage. As for the actual criminal aspects of the case, there are too many unsympathetic characters with motives uninteresting or overly convoluted.
(Some Agatha Christie aficionadas may recall a similar plot but without Poirot. That would be the Margaret Rutherford version of Miss Marple in the movie “Murder Most Foul,” which I rather enjoyed more than this David Suchet/Poirot version.)
CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS – Meadowbank, a small, prestigious girl’s school in England, becomes embroiled in murder following the arrival of Princess Shaista, the surviving heir to the throne of Ramat, a Middle Eastern country recently involved in a violent revolution. Spies, kidnapping, and missing jewels also factor into the plot. Luckily, Hercule Poirot, who is a friend of the Head Mistress, is on hand to lend his expertise.
This is one of my favorite episodes! The young girls assisting Poirot in his investigation are priceless.
THE THIRD GIRL – A distraught young woman tries to confide in Poirot that she thinks she may have killed someone. When her former nanny is found dead, with slashed wrists, most view the death as a suicide but Poirot’s friend Ariadne Oliver (ZoŽ Wanamaker) isn’t so sure and decides to do some snooping of her own.
I’ve nothing against the basic storyline, but again, there were too few sympathetic characters. I didn’t really care who had killed the nanny or why by the time the story wrapped up. I saw the twist ending coming long before I should have, which also decreased my enjoyment of the story.
APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH – My goodness! Some actors and actresses haven’t aged well. (Hint: Tim Curry and Cheryl Campbell)
Hercule Poirot joins an intrepid band of travelers on a trek to visit Lord Boynton (Tim Curry) at his archaeological dig in Syria, in 1937. Lady Boynton (Cheryl Campbell) is an over-bearing bully and is universally hated by everyone except her adoring husband. No one is particularly surprised or saddened when she is found dead, except her husband. The plot is a bit jumbled. Lady Boynton had unseemly secrets that only her step-children and the nanny know. There are white slavers about and for some reason they have their eye on one particular young female in the group. Oh, other people have secrets, too. It becomes a real muddle. The heat of the desert is oppressive. Most of the characters are uninteresting. The general plot is uninteresting and the solution is so long in coming that had I been one of the party members, I would have wandered off into the desert, drowned myself in the dirty brown waters of the river, or been chasing the white slavers shouting, “Take me! Take me!”
The David Suchet Poirot series is winding down. There are only five more episodes to be released. Over all, the series holds up well. As with any long-running series there are individual episodes that stand out as favorites and others that stand out as disappointments.
I find the Ariadne Oliver character, as played by ZoŽ Wanamaker, a bit irritating and distracting. I have no real idea of how the character was written by Agatha Christie because I have not yet read any of the books in which she was featured. However, based on my viewing experiences with the Poirot series featuring David Suchet, I miss the Captain Hastings, Miss Lemon, and Chief Inspector Japp characters.