Thanksgiving DVDs: Poirot and Murdoch Mysteries



David Suchet recently bade a fond farewell to Agatha Christie’s Poirot but the shows lives on in the form of Blu-Ray and DVDs. Acorn are releasing the latest batch of Belgian brilliance just in time for Thanksgiving. Poirot: Series 10 features four newly remastered episodes that debuted in 2005 and 2006. As ever, Suchet is joined by cast regulars Hugh Fraser (Sharpe), Philip Jackson (Little Voice), and Pauline Moran.

The Mystery of the Blue Train concerns the murder of an American heiress and the theft of a jewel from aboard a train. American fans will recognize many of the guest co-stars including Elliott Gould (Friends) and Roger Lloyd-Pack (Vicar of Dibley). In Cards on a Table, a wealthy Londoner (Alexander Siddig) arranges an unusual gathering involving four murderers and four detectives. In After The Funeral, Poirot is called in to investigate when a wealthy man changes his will just before his untimely demise. Guest stars in this one include Robert Bathurst (Downton Abbey). The best of the quartet of stories in this set is Taken at the Flood in which Poirot attempts not to solve a murder but to prove that a “widow’s” husband is in fact alive and well. Jenny Agutter, Tim Pigott-Smith and Celia Imrie are the biggest names among the cast in this one.

The generous folks at Acorn have thrown in plenty of extras and these include a photo gallery and a quite extensive behind-the-scenes segment. The 388 minute boxset is available on 26 November on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The former costs $49.99 while the DVD set costs $10 less. (Reviews continued below)

Britain may be the traditional home of period drama detective shows but the Canadians are giving the Brits a run for their money with the wildly popular Murdoch Mysteries. The series is based around Maureen Jennings’ Detective Murdoch novels which center around the technically gifted Detective William Murdoch. He’s a pioneer crime fighter who uses rudimentary versions of modern techniques to solve crimes in Victorian era Toronto. In terms of silverware, Murdoch Mysteries is Canada’s answer to Downton Abbey as it has raked in a few dozen nominations for TV awards.

Acorn Media gave a debut to the Murdoch Mysteries, Season six last month on Acorn TV while the series made its Canadian broadcast debut earlier this year. The DVD is being released on 26 November on both Blu-Ray and DVD. Either way you pay just $59.99 for almost 600 minutes of action. That’s a whopping 13 episodes. Should keep you busy through the winter months!

The Murdoch Mysteries has a magical element to it that you don’t really see in the more conventional detective shows. There are special effects galore and for the most part it is family friendly although one episode has some naughty bits. Another recurring element is the use of historical characters in the storylines. In season six, Murdoch helps a young Winston Churchill to untangle himself from a murder investigation. The young PM is played by none other than Downton Abbey’s Thomas Howes. Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is another figure from the past who makes the occasional cameo appearance. Would it be patronizing to Canadians to say that the Murdoch Mysteries is BestBritishTV quality? I hope not, because it is well meant and the show is as good as most of the great shows being produced by ITV and the BBC. (Continued below)

Like Acorn Media, Athena Learning is a division of RLJ Entertainment, Inc. and the folks over at Athena are also preparing a November 26 release. Photo: A History from Behind the Lens is a French documentary series from the makers of Understanding Art: Hidden Lives of Masterpieces. The $49.99, two-disc set has a total running time of 312 minutes and is comprised of 12 episodes. Each episode focuses on one aspect photography such as surrealism, pictorialism or the new German objectivity from the Dusseldorf school in the 1960s. As with the Art Masters series, you do not have to be an expert on the subject to enjoy this series. The producers examine both the mechanics of photography and the artistic intent of those behind the lens. Therefore, this should intrigue both practical minded folk and those who have artistic tendencies.

Kieran Kinsella

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