The best thing about this adaptation is the eponymous Hercule Poirot, played by David Suchet. Fastidious, exacting, charming, slightly ridiculous, shrewd and apt to pretend to a befuddlement he does not actually possess in order to hide his genius from suspects — Suchet’s Poirot is, simply put, perfection. From his spat-covered shoes to the stylized curl of his famous mustaches, his Hercule Poirot is now the only man I see when re-reading my favorite of Dame Christie’s novels, like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or The Hollow (also known as Murder After Hours).
Poirot is known for being the detective that Christie wished she had never invented; his explosive popularity drained her passion for his stories and she even created her own literary alter-ego, Ariadne Oliver, to slyly comment on the perils of being a prolific author. This has always saddened me, because I think Poirot vastly superior to the stodgy calm of Miss Marple. I will be the first to admit that Christie did little in the way of character development for her brilliant Belgian detective, but as I’ve watched each and every Poirot story get translated to television I been consistently impressed with how much humanity and nuance Mr. Suchet manages to infuse his Poirot with. He’s still a character, but he’s a much more relatable one than the books give us.
The series is a Who’s Who of British actors, and from the lady who basically invented the “cozy countryside mystery,” that’s no surprise. They’re consistently entertaining, always well-acted, and above all first-rate retellings of Christie’s novels and short stories. A hip hip huzzah for good television adaptations!