After traveling on the Blue Train from Calais to Nice, Hercule Poirot is pressed into service to help solve the murder of heiress Ruth Kettering who is found savagely beaten in her compartment. She was the daughter of wealthy industrialist Rufus Van Alden and very much wanted a divorce. Both her husband and her lover were on the train but she had changed rooms with another passenger, Katherine Grey, so the question naturally arises as to whether she was the intended victim. Grey may also have had enemies as she had recently inherited a very large sum of money and greedy relatives had suddenly taken a interest in her. When an attempt is subsequently made on Grey's life, this appears to the case but Poirot methodically sifts through all of the clues to determine the motive and identify the killer. Written by
Hercule Poirot mentions at the end that he has never traveled on the Orient Express, raising viewer expectations of his most famous case, "Murder on the Orient Express." See more »
[Lenox and Corky enter]
Ah, here they are at last. Katherine, my daughter Lenox. And this infant is my husband.
He's not my father, obviously.
That would be the astonishment of science.
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S10E01: Mystery of the Blue Train: By the numbers Poirot in some regards, although not really sparking or engaging as it should not helped by the odd direction either
Screening well over a year since the previous episode (The Hollow), Mystery of the Blue Train was the New Year offering that opens season 10 ahead of the remaining episodes all coming at the end of Q2 and start of Q3 in 2006. Boxsetting the series as I am, it is odd to think of it being so fragmented like this, but this was a time when it became more of event-television for ITV. This opening episode perhaps did not sit well with me because I did not give it those 15 or so months between episodes, but rather only a day or so after finishing season 9, I watched this one. The main impact for me was that the very nicely staged and presented episode of The Hollow, made the more frantic direction of Blue Train strike me as odd and rather alienating.
I shouldn't really be talking about the presentation before the content, but I did find it to be too different from the style that I have come to prefer. Here we have too many odd camera angles, a bit too much swapping of focal points, and a generally busier presentation that I would have liked; the editing adds to this feeling and I did spend much of the episode wondering if all of season 10 will play out like this and also thinking about what other shows may have influenced this sudden change in approach (some others here reference NYPD Blue and the like, and to be fair there may be something in that).
The mystery itself I found lacking in urgency and, in some ways, clarity; perhaps this was just me not following it, but it was not one that really drew me in as many other episodes have done. The cast are maybe part of this as they are surprisingly so-so. Suchet himself is as good as he generally is in this role, however the supporting cast fare better on paper than in reality. Gould is a big name but seems unsure of his character and unable to really sell it; D'Arcy, Eve, Farrell, and others are fine but nothing great none of them really hooking me into the episode. All told it does the norms, and provides a familiar enough frame for the lazy viewer such as I to fall into, however it didn't draw me in, nor really spark with mystery or intrigue something not helped one bit by the direction, which really didn't fit in the series.
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