Poirot and Hastings are in Deauville, and Poirot is approached by business-man Paul Renaud concerning threats by Chileans. The next morning the maid finds Madame Renaud bound and gagged and her husband's corpse is later found on a nearby golf course. Giraud, a pompous French police officer, dismissive of Poirot's reputation, lays a wager with him. The detective who fails to catch the killer must make a sacrifice. Giraud will relinquish his trade mark pipe. Poirot must shave off his moustache.Written by
don @ minifie-1
The first images set the date to MCMXXXII (1932), and we see a steam engine with the SNCF logo (french railways). But the SNCF company (and therefore, its logo) didn't exist before 1938. See more »
[Hand over his pipe for losing to Poirot]
This is yours, I think.
No monsieur. You may keep your pipe but from this moment each time you light it you'll think of HeRcule Poirot?
Yes, I will.
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S6E03: Murder on the Links: Good, accessible mystery with enjoyable supporting material
Following the pattern of the episodes in season 6, this episode opens with a prologue which probably tells the viewer a bit too much early on; perhaps not giving too much away, but directing our attention a certain direction very early on, so it was a little distracting to be looking at every female character of a certain age with a suspicious eye, and looking at the main man (clearly to become the victim), with a too-knowing eye compared to how I normally come into these films. With this setup still in mind, we jump forward 10 years to find that Poirot and a welcomingly-returned Hastings are on holiday in France, although perhaps not the first choice of Poirot himself in terms of destination and hotel. From here the mystery unfolds with the murder, which is added to by Hastings finding romance while Poirot is challenged to a wager by someone believed to be the best detective in France (which is impossible, Poirot notes, since Poirot is here now).
Unlike the previous episode, where perhaps the mystery was an afterthought to comedy, style and other such things, here the mystery is done well. Okay perhaps we are told too much too soon, but it doesn't ruin the mystery so much as make it more accessible to the viewer (which I am totally fine with since I spent Hickory Dickory Dock believe that the mouse did it since he always happened to be on the scene of the crime – basically I need all the gentle guidance I can get!). Generally it unfolds well since the viewer is allowed to be a bit ahead of Poirot by knowing the base of the story (he has to return to London to get this information), so when he roars past us and the mystery goes beyond this, then we are not too far behind so don't feel like we are doing a standing start when things twist and the reveal begins.
There are side issues, which mostly work. I enjoyed the wager between the two detectives, even though I think Moody was a bit too heavy in his playing; I even quite liked Hastings' subplot even though it seemed telegraphed and to come from nowhere to somewhere too quickly. The look and feel of the production is very good, with good locations through Normandy giving the episode a base of France – although it did make me wonder how there was not a single French person in the entirety of France? We get Poirot speaking with an accent, but everyone from local detectives through to the guy working the train platform was speaking in English accents (sometimes very regional ones) – it was distracting and a shame not to at least have local color in the smaller characters.
The main actors do as well as usual, particularly with Suchet on form as ever. Fraser is fun but the romance pushes him a bit out of his comfort zone and I didn't think he worked as well in this. The supporting cast are solid enough to do the job, with good playing across the board – even those I thought could have done better or been cast differently, they still were okay. Overall Murder on the Links is a solidly enjoyable episode, which is accessible to the point where the viewer feels involved but not so much that it is obvious at any point. The mystery comes first, so the supporting material is allowed to be just that – and mostly it works even if the wager and the romance have their aspects that could have been better.
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