It is always a fascinating study to compare the shorter Poirot television versions with the stories on which they are based. So much circumstantial detail is added to most of them in order to stretch the scenarios to a full 51 minutes that one wonders if each episode should have been kept to 25 minutes and we would have two cases instead of one. But it is all done with such finesse that we cannot complain. Now that Acorn Media has made Collector's Set 8 available, we have yet three more chances to watch, read and compare.
But setting aside the originals, here are three excellent mysteries, each with a little something special. In "The Case of the Missing Will," we have a good deal of upper class British male anti-feminine feelings as a background to a murder designed to disinherit everyone mentioned in a will by stealing it and bringing up the possibility of a long-lost heir. The actual solution ties in nicely with the patriarchal theme set up early in the episode.
"The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman" finally brings in "an admirer" for the usually machine-efficient Miss Lemon and plays up Hastings' love for automobiles. Here too, an early incident--the purchasing of the car-- comes full cycle to a "gag" at the end to create a symmetry that would please Poirot himself. The running theme here is the rise of Mussolini and Italian criminal organizations that pre-date the Mafia (as we are told by the dialogue).
Possibly "The Chocolate Box" is the most special of the entire series of short episodes. Here we have flashbacks of Poirot when he was in the Bruxelles police force, trying to prove that a death by "natural causes" was indeed a murder. Naturally those involved are powerful people and Poirot's superior tries desperately to get him to stop looking into the case. Many years later, when Inspector Japp is called to Bruxelles to receive an award, Poirot finally gets to resolve things in a most surprising way. Here the background theme is religion and its tie-in with politics.
Only two more sets to go. And look for the DVD versions of "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" and "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe," also issued by Acorn Media.