Alors, mes amis, after portraying Hercule Poirot for a quarter century, David Suchet has put away the Belgian detective’s hat and mustache, donated his cane to a museum, and bid a final au revoir to the legendary character. Telly won’t be the same without Poirot and his little grey cells.
While the Poirot series may have concluded its nearly 25-year run in the UK, it hasn’t just yet in the US, as PBS brings two of the last five adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Poirot stories — “The Big Four” and “Dead Man’s Folly” — to stateside audiences this summer.
Each feature-length episode features reunions. In “The Big Four,” Hercule Poirot (David Suchet), Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), the former Inspector, now Assistant Commissioner Japp (Philip Jackson), and Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), appear together for the first time in more than a decade — the last time being in Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Evil Under the Sun. And in “Dead Man’s Folly,” award winner Zoë Wanamaker (My Family, My Week with Marilyn) reprises her role as Ariadne Oliver, Poirot’s unwitting sidekick, for the sixth and final time.
“The Big Four”
With World War II looming, American tycoon Abe Ryland (James Carroll Jordan, Dracula)) of the Peace Party puts on a show of international unity by hosting a grand chess match in London between himself and reclusive Russian grand master, Dr. Ivan Savaranoff (Michael Culkin, Garrow’s Law). It is at the event that Poirot, a guest, and AC Japp, on security detail, meet again, which is convenient when Savaranoff keels over and dies while making a move during the match.
Poirot suspects a death of unnatural causes, and suspicions fall on Ryland and fellow Peace Party member Madame Olivier (Patricia Hodge, Miranda). But distinguishing the good guys from the bad and uncovering the truth get complicated, especially when dead bodies are stacking up, living ones are disappearing, and a group of dissidents known as The Big Four is hatching a dangerous plot.
Thus the Belgian is thrust into the world of global espionage, and must implement a scheme of his own to catch the killer and bust up The Big Four. To do so, he enlists the help of AC Japp, journalist Tysoe (Tom Brooke, Sherlock), and actress Flossie Monro (Sarah Parish, Breathless). And Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon get caught up in Poirot’s plans, too.
“Dead Man’s Folly”
Wealthy financier Sir George Stubbs (Sean Pertwee, Cadfael) and his wife Hattie (Stephanie Leonidas, Defiance) acquire Nasse House and spare no expense in hosting a summer fête on the grounds in order to beguile their Devonshire neighbours. Guests bustle about competing in the fancy dress and having their fortunes told, but the main event is the “murder hunt.”
Concocted by the famous mystery novelist, Ariadne Oliver (Zoë Wanamaker), the made-up murder is fiendishly complicated. And there’s a twist that Ariadne hadn’t counted on: her intuition tells her that an actual murder is in the offing. So she calls on her old friend, Hercule Poirot, to solve a crime that has yet to be committed… but ultimately is.
“Dead Man’s Folly” boasts a stellar cast, including Sinead Cusack (North & South), Tom Ellis (Miranda), Martin Jarvis (Titanic), and Sam Kelly (‘Allo ‘Allo), amongst others. Additionally, Greenway, Agatha Christie’s summer home in Devon, was the inspiration for the story and the fictional Nasse House, and served as the filming location for scenes in the episode.
PBS will screen “The Big Four” and “Dead Man’s Folly” as part of its Masterpiece Mystery series on two consecutive Sundays — 27 July and 3 August 2014 — at 9 PM ET. (Check your local listings.)