Mr. Waverly, a man whose wealth belongs to his rich wife, comes to engage Poirot's services. He has had a letter telling him that his little son Johnnie will be kidnapped for ransom. Although Poirot is present at the Waverly home, the kidnapping goes ahead but all is not as it first seems. Written by
It is not as if the Poirot series is a bad one, it's not, for eight or nine years now it has entertained and surprised me and has always maintained its high standard of production values, music and acting, and to this day always makes my day when it is on. The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly is not a bad episode as such, but of the short-story adaptations it even beats the convoluted but interesting Case of the Missing Will as the most disappointing. My biggest problems were with the plot and the script. Usually the stories are so clever and riveting in Poirot, but here it seemed rather confused with the whole how the kidnapping was done scenario not making much sense. The final solutions also interest me and there have been some ingenious ones of the short-story adaptations(especially The Lost Mine), but this one was a let down, I got the sense that I was told too much too early(with one too obvious clue) so I knew who the perpetrator was earlier than I wanted to. The script isn't a complete shambles, but it is not up to the standard of other Poirot episodes whether in suspense, poignancy, simplicity and humour. There are some intelligent and mildly amusing lines from Poirot, but this script lacked the suspense factor, making the pace sag at times, and the humour(courtesy of Hastings) falls surprisingly flat. However, it is very well made, the scenery is wonderful, and the costumes, period detail and atmosphere are very evocative. The music is well-composed and fitting, not as haunting or as beautiful as others, but never bad enough to distract. The acting is also great, with David Suchet outstanding as Poirot, and Hugh Fraser and Phillip Jackson doing a good job as Hastings and Japp, though they have given better performances and their characters better written too. Pauline Moran is appropriately efficient and firm as Miss Lemon. The support cast are solid, but none really stand out. All in all, watchable but not up to the usual high standard. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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