Thanks to Acorn Media, we may very well soon have all the Hercule Poirot episodes available for easy watching, the shorter ones on tape and the longer on DVD. With the arrival of Set 5, we have cases 13-15 from the classic BBC series that was once shown on PBS and currently in shamefully abbreviated forms on a commercial channel.
I have already posted my general comments about this series on the webpages for the first four sets, so let me cut to the chase.
"The Tragedy of Marsdon Manor" begins comically enough with a would-be mystery writer of an inn owner summoning Poirot to solve a baffling case that happens to be fictional. Naturally a real death takes place under what seems to be supernatural circumstances; and the production does indeed create a wonderfully English country manor spooky-ness that makes this worth watching. Never mind that the solution involves all sorts of twists that verge on the incredible; but to invert the aphorism in "Sleuth," this is Inspector Fiction, not Inspector Fact.
"The Double Clue" is exceptional in that it shows Poirot emotionally involved with a suspect, a fascinating (at least to him) Russian countess who might or might not be involved in a series of jewel thefts. Japp is honestly in fear of losing his job unless the thefts are stopped, while Miss Lemon and Hastings do their own sleuthing as Poirot spends time with the countess. "The Mystery of the Spanish Chest" has a plot within the plot, so to speak, rather far-fetched. However, the presence of actor John McEnery and the opening surreally filmed dueling sequence more than make up for any storyline inconsistencies.
Again, it is always instructive to compare these dramatizations with the originals; but the former stand up very nicely on their own.