“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…” I don’t know if Frank Sinatra ever watched Agatha Christie’s Poirot, but the opening lyrics to one of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ trademark songs are spot on for “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case,” the final episode of the last ever Poirot series starring David Suchet.
“I would love Poirot to be remembered fondly and it goes without saying he is the greatest detective in the world.” — David Suchet
The complete canon of Agatha Christie’s works featuring Hercule Poirot includes 70 stories, all of which have been adapted for the long-running ITV series. And David Suchet has starred as the fastidious and brilliant Belgian detective in all of them over the span of 25 years — a feat for which the Royal Television Society honored him with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Of the 70, five stories comprise Series 13. “The Big Four” and “Dead Man’s Folly” will debut in the US on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery. “Elephants Can Remember,” “The Labours of Hercules,” and “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case” will make their North American premieres exclusively on Acorn TV.
“Elephants Can Remember” — premieres 11 August 2014
Poirot (Suchet) investigates the mysterious death of a professor, the father of his friend, Dr. Willoughby (Iain Glen, Jack Taylor), even though the son could be the culprit. Meanwhile, at the insistence of Mrs. Burton-Cox (Greta Scacchi, Daniel Deronda), Poirot’s crime-writer friend, Ariadne Oliver (Zoë Wanamaker, My Family), delves into the decade-old unsolved deaths of General Ravenscroft (Adrian Lukis, Judge John Deed) and his wife, Margaret (Annabel Mullion, Law & Order: UK). Was it a double suicide or a murder-suicide, and if the latter, who shot whom?
Ariadne’s isn’t just a case of curious minds wanting to know. Futures are at stake. Mrs. Burton-Cox’s son, Desmond (Ferdinand Kingsley, Ripper Street), is betrothed to the Ravenscroft’s daughter (and Ariadne’s goddaughter), Celia (Vanessa Kirby, The Hour). If Celia inherited the “madness gene” from either of her parents, then all bets for their marriage are off.
Poirot’s case has twists and turns and Ariadne’s is full of secrets and half-forgotten memories. In a no-forehead-smacking version of an “I could’ve had a V-8” moment, Poirot realizes that the two cases are connected, and the two sleuths join forces to reveal the truths from the past and find the present-day killer.
“The Labours of Hercules” — premieres 18 August 2014
A trap set by the Met to capture the infamous thief and murderer Marrascaud results in disaster. Not only do the police and Poirot fail to capture the criminal, Marrascaud has absconded with the priceless “Hercules Vanquishing the Hydra” painting on display at Lucinda Le Mesurier’s (Lorna Nickson Brown, Breathless) society debut, nicked the diamond necklace she was wearing, and left her dead.
Despite Dr. Burton’s (Tom Chadbon, Casualty) efforts, the devastated Poirot does not come out of his deep depression until his chauffeur, Ted Williams (Tom Austen, Jo) asks him to find the missing Nita, Ted’s true love and Russian dancer Katrina Samoushenka’s (Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Utopia) maid. In a case of serendipity, the search for Nita takes Poirot to the Swiss Alps, where he happens upon Hotel Olympos, which is thought to be Marrascaud’s hideout. But things get worse before they get better when an avalanche cuts off access to the hotel.
Danger is lurking, and any of the hotel’s guests could be Marrascaud, but which one? Could it be the secretive and bedridden Samoushenka, or her therapist, Dr. Lutz (Simon Callow, Chance in a Million)? If it isn’t MP Harold Waring (Rupert Evans, Fleming), then why is he hiding in Switzerland? Surely it can’t be hotel regular, Mrs. Annabel Rice (Sandy McDade, Lark Rise to Candleford), or her daughter, Elsie Clayton (Morven Christie, Twenty Twelve), or can it? Maybe Schwartz (Tom Wlaschiha, Game of Thrones) isn’t actually an insurance investigator, and perhaps hotel owner Francesco (Nigel Lindsay, Rome) isn’t as trustworthy as he seems.
Adding to the puzzle is the arrival of Russian émigré and jewel thief, Countess Vera Rossakoff (Orla Brady, Mistresses) — the only woman to have made Poirot’s heart skip a beat, and one he hasn’t seen in more than two decades. Could she or her daughter, criminologist Alice Cunningham (Eleanor Tomlinson, Death Comes to Pemberley), be Marrascaud? And will Poirot figure out who the killer is before he or she strikes again?
“Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case” — premieres 25 August 2014
An elderly, arthritic, and wheelchair-bound Poirot reunites with the now widowed Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) at Styles Court, the country manor where the pair had met and solved their first murder investigation together 30 years ago… and where they will have their last.
Although Poirot has a life-threatening heart condition, his little grey cells are in perfect working order. He knows that a murderer is in the midst, but doesn’t know with certainty who the killer is or who the victim(s) will be. Since he cannot move about freely to investigate, he enlists Hastings to be his “eyes and ears.” (No pressure.)
Unfortunately, the combination of Poirot’s mental prowess and Hastings’ mobility isn’t enough to stop the killings of Styles Court guests — characters portrayed by a who’s who of British television and film, including Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet), Shaun Dingwall (Above Suspicion), Philip Glenister (Ashes to Ashes), Claire Keelan (Line of Duty), Anna Madeley (Mr. Selfridge), Aidan McArdle (Garrow’s Law), Matthew McNulty (The Paradise), Anne Reid (Last Tango in Halifax), John Standing (Cheerful Weather for the Wedding), and David Yelland (Rumpole of the Bailey).
“Whenever he has the moustache on he behaves like Poirot even if he’s not being filmed. It’s clear to see how much the character means to him – Poirot is David’s legacy.” — Philip Glenister, on David Suchet
“David Suchet’s swansong as Hercule Poirot proved that the show has been one of TV’s greatest achievements… and great TV performances of the past 30 years… five stars.” — The Telegraph