Posts Tagged ‘David Suchet’

Jemima Rooper as Norma Restarick in Third Girl

Third Girl is the second installment of Season X of Hercule Poirot on PBS Masterpiece Mystery! Unlike his dark and edgy stint on Murder on the Orient Express, David Suchet relaxes a bit in this production, once again showing the fastidious side of Poirot and reintroducing some of the dark humor for which Dame Agatha was well known. Case in point, Ariadne Oliver, the author/sleuth who was wont to “help” Poirot. As played by Zoë Wanamaker, the character is delightful.

Zoë Wannamaker and David Suchet

Jemima Rooper plays heiress Norma Restarick, the third girl who shares an apartment with Claudia, the first girl, and Frances, the second girl. These two beautiful women share a confidence about their beauty and themselves that Norma does not possess. Haunted by her mother’s death, Norma fears for her sanity when she thinks she has murdered her former nanny.

It was nice to see Ms. Rooper team up again with Tom Mison, who in this production played David Baker, the young artist who was commissioned to paint a portrait and whose eyes light up every time he sees Norma. Both Jemima and Tom portrayed roles in Lost in Austen, Tom a very likable Mr. Bingley and Jemima a befuddled Amanda Price, who steps back in time to exchange places with Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

David Suchet as the incomparable Hercule Poirot

Watching Third Girl I was happy that no commercials would interrupt the flow of the story. Still, it had so many plot twists and elements going in various directions, that I felt the production would have benefited from an additional half hour to flesh out the story line and characters. Nevertheless, it is good to see Suchet back in old familiar form. If you missed this episode, you can watch it online for a week at this link through August 1.

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Murder on the Orient Express, PBS Masterpiece Mystery!, Sunday, July 11, 9 PM local listings. Starting 7-12, watch this episode online at this link.

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot arrives at Masterpiece Mystery for Series X and the viewer will not be disappointed. David Suchet is back as Poirot, the Belgian detective, and I can imagine no one better in the role. This summer’s Masterpiece Mystery! will feature three new Poirot mysteries based on Agatha Christie Novels: Murder on the Orient Express (July 11), Third Girl(July 18) and Appointment with Death (July 25).

The Orient Express was more than a train – it was an experience. Considered the height of luxury in travel, it was also the turbojet Concorde of its day in that it provided the fastest route from Paris to the East. Agatha Christie and her husband traveled in style all the way to Instanbul, and her trips gave her the background information and details she needed to craft a truly unique murder plot. More a string of luxury sleeping cars, seating cars, couchettes, and dining cars than a regular passenger train, the Orient Express crossed many borders over rail lines owned by a number of companies and nationalities. With so many consortiums and countries involved in its smooth running, one marvels that the train made its destination at all, much less in record time.

Passengers trapped on a snow bound train

In 1929 the train was stalled in a snow storm in Turkey, leaving the passengers stranded for days. Christie based her 1934 murder mystery on that true event, as well as on the 1932 kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr., which made the headlines in respectable newspapers and scandal sheets for weeks.

Toby Jones plays the evil victim

This PBS production of Christie’s famous tale is darker in tone than the famous Sydney Lumet adaptation of the book in 1974, which starred Albert Finney as Poirot. That movie’s ending was more pat and Hollywood in style. There was no doubt that Ratchett, the villain (Richard Widmark), was evil through and through, whereas the villain (Toby Jones) in this PBS production seems to operate more from fear and self-protection.

The suspects have no place to go

The ending in this most recent adaptation is strikingly dark and ambivalent; raising questions of justice, ethics, and morality. I confess that it has been so many years since I’ve read this mystery that I cannot recall how faithful this film’s ending is to Agatha’s book.

Barbara Hershey as Caroline Hubbard

The actors are once again superb. We do not see Barbara Hershey enough these days, and the fabulous Eileen Atkins makes an unforgettable appearance. Samuel West, David Morrissey, and Hugh Bonneville round out a sterling cast. My major complaint about this production is its length, which was too short to develop the story lines for many of the suspects.

Eileen Atkins as Princess Dragomiroff, one of the suspects

Watch behind the scenes videos at this link.

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