Hercule Poirot: Appointment with Death on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – A Recap & Review

Image from Poirot: Appointment with Death: David Suchet in Hercule Poirot © 2010 MASTERPIECEThree quarters into the new to Masterpiece Mystery presentation of Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death tonight, her detective Hercule Poirot proclaimed to the roundup of suspects “This case mon ami, is full of the red fish.” I couldn’t agree more. In this 2008 ITV/PBS liberal adaptation by screenwriter Guy Andrews there are red herrings leaping out of the plot like a politian’s rebuttal, but not of Christie’s making. In fact, very little of what you experience onscreen is from her 1937 novel. To disarm reproof there is after all, the discreetly placed caveat of “based on” Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death in the opening credits. Does this absolve all sins before they are committed?

(Queue blazing sun and Lawrence of Arabia music.) Eccentric English archaeologist Lord Greville Boynton (Tim Curry) has been trolling through the Middle East for years in search of the head of John the Baptist reputed to have been buried where the river meets the mountains 2,000 years ago. His domineering American wife (Cheryl Campbell) is graciously funding his expeditions from her lucrative stock market dealings, but that is where the joy ends. With her Continue reading “Hercule Poirot: Appointment with Death on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – A Recap & Review”

Hercule Poirot: Third Girl on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – A Recap & Review

Image from Poirot: Third Girl: David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker © 2008 MASTERPIECEIf Masterpiece Mystery fans were unsettled by last week’s uncharacteristically dark and moralistic production of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, then absolution is in order with Third Girl, a total turn-around back to the sophisticated Art Deco 1930’s London and country manor house crime dramas that we have come to cherish and expect. In this new 2008 ITV/PBS co-production, David Suchet continues as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot joined by Zoë Wanamaker in her re-occurring role as crime novelist Ariadne Oliver. Faced with one of their most challenging cases they must discover if a tormented heiress is a murderer or another criminal is amongst a group of suspects who may have set her up.

Norma Restarick (Jemima Rooper – Lost in Austen) arrives at Poirot’s London flat distressed and distraught, hoping that he can save her. She believes she has committed murder, but before he can assist her she abruptly leaves oddly claiming the distinguished detective is too old. Baffled, Poirot later visits his friend celebrated crime novelist Ariadne Oliver and learns she had sent Norma to him Continue reading “Hercule Poirot: Third Girl on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – A Recap & Review”

Hercule Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – A Recap & Review

Image from Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express: David Suchet as Hercule Poirot © 2010 MASTERPIECEMystery fans were treated to the opening of season X of Poirot on Masterpiece Mystery last Sunday with a new episode of Murder on the Orient Express, one of Agatha Christie’s most famous novels. Amazingly, this new production is only the second time it has been adapted for television and follows the famous and glitzy 1974 Hollywood movie directed by Sidney Lumet with an all-star cast including Albert Finney as Detective Hercule Poirot, Lauren Becall as the outrageously brash American Mrs. Hubbard and Ingrid Bergman in her Oscar winning role as Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson. Having seen this version some 36 years ago (yikes), I watched it again in preparation for this new David Suchet production. With the passing years, it is even more of an opulent showpiece of bravada by the then fading Hollywood studio system than I remembered, packed with so many stars and stunning costumes that my eye could not settle upon the seriousness of the story nor my head erase the earworm that the musical score created. It was glamorous. It was exciting. It was a dog and pony show that Agatha Christie’s novel never was. It still made me smile in appreciation of the great acting and direction from an era that we may look back upon in wonder. Continue reading “Hercule Poirot: Murder on the Orient Express on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – A Recap & Review”

Masterpiece Mystery PBS 2010 Season Preview

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The game is afoot as crime season begins again on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS this Sunday, May 2nd. The 2010 line-up offers the best in British mysteries presenting a great selection of super sleuths to feed any whodunit addict’s desire for murder and mayhem. Returning in new episodes will be Michael Kitchen in Foyle’s War, Julia McKenzie as Miss Marple, David Suchet as Hercule Poroit, Kevin Whatley as Inspector Lewis and Kenneth Branagh in Wallander. Joining these five master detectives will be the new series Sherlock, a modern day spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s popular Sherlock Holmes staring Benedict Cumberbatch as the enigmatic detective. Airing on Sundays at 9:00 pm the series will also feature actor Alan Cumming who returns as host adding more quirky commentary to set the mood. Here is a preview of the summer – fall season. Continue reading “Masterpiece Mystery PBS 2010 Season Preview”

Masterpiece Mystery: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead

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Who would want to bludgeon to death a humble country charwoman? Suspicions lead Superintendent Spence (Richard Hope) to conclude that her dodgy tenant James Bentley (Joe Absolom) who has fallen on hard times was motivated by theft to commit the crime. After Bentley is convicted and sentenced to die by the gallows, things still do not seem quite right, and he calls upon Hercule Poirot (David Suchet), the greatest detective in the world to confirm his doubts and help him discover the real murderer, as Masterpiece Mystery continues with Agatha Christie’s, Mrs. McGinty’s Dead on PBS.

Poirot travels to Broadhinny, a country village to investigate the scene of the crime meeting his friend Ariadne Oliver (Zoe Wanamaker) the novelist visiting a local playwright Robin Upward (Paul Rhys) who is adapting her novel into his next play. Poirot begins by interviewing all of Mrs. McGinty’s Continue reading “Masterpiece Mystery: Mrs. McGinty’s Dead”

Masterpiece Mystery: Cat Among Pigeons – A Review

Image from Hercule Poirot: A Cat Among Pigeons © 2009 MASTERPIECEAgatha Christie mystery fans were dancing on tabletops across America tonight, when David Suchet returned as their favorite fastidious Belgian super sleuth Hercule Poirot, in Masterpiece Mystery’s opening episode of Six By Agatha Hercule Poirot: Cat Among Pigeons on PBS. It was more than worth the wait for this long time Masterpiece Mystery fan. What an elegantly produced production it was; superb British casting, classy costumes, period locations, masterful direction and an excellent adaptation of Christie’s classic 1959 novel,  all culminating into giant culture rush for this Anglophile/mystery lover. Swoon!

As the music started with the opening credits, I smiled in recognition of how much the Harry Potter movies have premeated into our culture. Here is a scene of children arriving for school term and the music is so similar to the whimsical children’s choral piece that opens the Harry Potter movies that I laughed out loud and thought the producer a cheeky monkey for slipping in that subliminal message! I wondered what other things they might borrow to make Continue reading “Masterpiece Mystery: Cat Among Pigeons – A Review”

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