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Four and Twenty Blackbirds | Agatha Christie’s Poirot | TV Serial | Season 1 | Episode 4 | Personal Reviews

The fourth episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (English TV Serial, which was aired in Briton), is titled as Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

TV Serial : Agatha Christie’s Poirot
Season : Season 1
Episode # : 4
Episode Title : Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Originally Aired : 29 Jan 1989
Starring : David Suchet (Hercule Poirot), Hugh Fraser (Captain Arthur Hastings), Philip Jackson (Inspector James Japp), Pauline Moran (Miss Felicity Lemon),
Richard Howard (George Lorrimer), Clifford Rose (Peter Makinson), Tony Aitken (Tommy Pinner), Philip Locke (Cutter), Hilary Mason (Mrs. Hill), Cheryl Hall (Molly), John Sessions (Radio Voices), Andrew Mackintosh (Doctor), Su Elliot (Edith), John Bardon (Lavatory Assistant), Holly De Jong (Dulcie Lane), Geoffrey Larder (Harry Clarke), Denys Hawthorne (Henry Bonnington), Marjie Lawrence (Irene Mullen), Charles Pemberton (Stooge), Peter Waddington (Forensic), Guy Standeven (Vicar), Stephen Pruslin (Pianist), and others…
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The episode starts with a doctor paying visit to a patient who is almost on the death bad and rather than days, it is the matter of hours for him. The flat of the patient is zoomed in from the view of a seashore where people are enjoying. You can consider it as a metaphor of the real life where cry and laughter are going hand in hand together parallel. The maid was shocked with the news that the patient have only a very little amount of breathe available. She on the confirmation of the doctor decided to inform the patient (Mr. Anthony)’s relatives. Here we got to know that Anthony has a brother named Henry but seems they were not on good terms, as they didn’t spoke to each other since last 20 years! Finally the caretaker lady – Mrs. Hill – decided to inform Mr. George Lorrimer – nephew of Anthony.

George works at a theater company and he was busy in a play for which rehearsals were going on. He found the call by Mrs. Hill quite unwelcoming. He asks Mrs. Hill he will pay the visit on the Sunday as he is very busy these days! And once the lady confirmed that it would be too late for him to visit Anthony (as he may not be anymore then). But George stick to his schedule!

Where does Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings come to picture in this matter?!

We see they were busy in Poirot’s office, Poirot doing his work sincerely and found a little irritated by seeing Hastings hearing commentary of a cricket match so religiously. He informs that he is going meet Henry as they have a dinner appointment! Hastings and Lemon was quite amused by hearing it because Henry is a dentist and Poirot is afraid of dentists. Anyway they go to a restaurant and eventually get into discussion about human habit and behavior. The doctor affirm that mostly people are followed by their habits and they usually don’t change it. A waitress confirm the claim with the example of an old man who come to their restaurant twice a week and order the same items always. She though informs that this time the person came to the restaurant on Monday as well (which was not his usual day of visit) and he ordered something, which he had not ever! The waitress confirm again that he ordered that unusual stuff again today. Poirot found it interesting and monitor it with the keen eye.

We see that a lady got suspicious about the health of an old man living in her neighborhood, as she hadn’t seen him since a while. When she visit his home she found the milk bottles of 3 days are found at the door and no one is opening the door after many calls. She informed the police and we found that the old man is dead!

The old man was Mr. Henry, the same person Poirot and his dentist friend talk about and watch over in the restaurant! Poirot decide to look into the matter and then one by one layers of the mystery got solved.

It is David Suchet’s episode all over, you can say that. He performs really well. Be it his dialog delivery or gestures, he is in form. See him getting irritated when Hastings found glued and much interested in cricket commentary most of the times. See him showing his pain at the dentist’s place during his treatment, you will believe him as the perfect actor for the character. Hugh Fraser is competent but got less footage in this episode. Ditto we can say for other two hands of Poirot Miss Lemon and Inspector Japp.

The comic scenes at the theater are not so funny. Though the chaos at the backstage is filmed well. The episode also portray some nudity as it is related with the murder of an artist. His muse is shown nude. That nude scene end with a nice dialog “as you see, I have nothing to hide,…” (she was talking to Poirot at the start of their meeting. The introduction to then emerging forensic science is effective. The background music is pretty much the positive attribute of the episode. The dialogs are taken from the real life, they are witty, small and effective.

The scenes are filmed with remarkable details, for example you can see the restaurant name in the menu, or when Hastings and Poirot climb down from the car, Poirot stops to pay the rent and Hastings fetches the newspaper to get updates for the cricket score. The art gallery is effective. The elder lady (who found Henry’s house closed since a while and informed police) is very expressive. See her expression when Poirot and Hastings meet her for the first time, and also see her behaving differently at both them! It is quite a right exploration of human behavior (for people with certain mindset, in certain times). The acting of Hilary (playing Mrs. Hill) is remarkable too. Her worried expression when informing George about the illness of Anthony over the phone, her not so welcome behavior for George (as he haven’t respond to the emergency call so attentively) and her broken heart when found that she was the only person who did care for his master and companion, but was not given any attention in terms of reward for the same (as Anthony died with no-will); she perform well in all these scene.

The remastered DVDs came up with good sound and picture qualities, and you can expect the same quality at Amazon Prime as well. So seeing all the positive aspects, if murder mysteries and thrillers are your choice, than you may not like to miss this one.

Did you read the reviews for the first episode of this TV Serial? Also what you think for this episode? Do share your feelings via comments below. If you find this review helpful to make you a buying/watching decision, do not forget to share with your friends and family 🙂

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