MS1: The Clapham Crook

All right, here we go folks, Let’s see how this goes!

mysterywatch

Agatha Christie’s Poirot: S1E1 “The Clapham Cook”

First of all, you have to know that Agatha Christie’s Poirot is the golden standard of television in my household. My parents love it, my sister loves it, I love it. We’ve been watching and re-watching it for going on 20 years now. Mom and Dad own most of the show on VHS *and* DVD, and it’s our go-to, inoffensive family show for evening dinners and clearing up dishes post-meal. That might be weird- I definitely didn’t grow up on The Simpsons, Friends, or ER, but boy oh boy, we have every episode of Poirot nearly memorized (Second only to A&E’s Nero Wolfe, another quality production).

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Poirot was also the show that my parents would watch at night after I went to bed. Whenever the opening credits start up, piano keys and clarinet (?) and David Suchet’s face in purple triangles on the screen, I’m reminded of hearing the credits emit from my parent’s bedroom as I drifted off to sleep almost every night. There’s a great blog post discussing the main theme here, if you’d like to listen and read some more discussion about the characterization of the song.

The plot of this episode revolves around a missing cook, Poirot’s vanity, and a large leather trunk. Let’s appreciate some beautiful things about LWT’s production of episode 1:

1) the introduction of the First White Lady Protagonist of the series
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Her curls! Her carefully applied rouge! That strangely off-putting lipstick! This show is perpetually washed out and the colors overly muted and often I think this does an unfair job to the makeup in the show. EVERYTHING is SO PASTEL. Especially all of the characters’s faces. It’s a little maddening sometimes- sometimes I find the washed-outness a little distracting.

2) artfully framed shots

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Okay, I love this show, but this isn’t a show that I recall being artful, beautiful, or picturesque from previous watchings- but this episode features a few beautifully-framed shots that look like paintings. I love this shot of Hastings & Poirot in the Common- the feel isn’t unlike this 19th Century painting.

3) Hastings’ ugly sweater. I call this look ‘Confused Uncle at Christmas’

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Hastings exists to say “My God!” and loudly suspect The Obvious Suspects. As Hercule admonishes Hastings in this episode, “He is not guilty just because you do not like him”. In the books, Hastings is a the Young, Silly Foil to Poirot’s little grey cells. I like to consider him a Dumb Lord Peter Wimsey- all the frivolity, none of the smarts. The show portrays him a little older than the books, and a lot more silly, which is sometimes frustrating. I adored Hugh Fraser’s Hastings as a child, but as an adult I’m just not a huge fan, though that’s not by any fault of his own- it’s merely the writing given him. I do have a soft spot for the actor (who, by the way, recently liked a tweet of mine about Poirot. I’ve never felt so famous!) even if I cringe when I watch the show now.

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Is this a diverse show? No, not at all.

Poirot: the show full of white folk, perplexed by a fussy foreigner played by another white dude, pretending to be a stereotype of a different culture that was made up by a single lady that isn’t really accurate?
I’m sure I’ll mention this later on as I discuss other episodes. HOT TAKE: this is a really White Show. I can’t claim to be an expert in British television, but it really feels as though more modern shows with the BBC do a better job of showing people of different races and creeds in more roles, where this show exists in a very strange fantasy of White England.

Okay, but back to the plot. Like I said: Missing cook, large trunk, Poirot’s vanity. Poirot is hired to find a missing cook, a case ~completely beneath his sensibilities~ and he is set upon solving the case! From the beginning of the episode, thanks to our foreshadowing soundtrack, we know that the case is somehow connected to a bank theft. Poirot questions the household servants (including a Maid INSISTING that Cook was kidnapped by, I kid you not, white slavers) and is quickly dismissed from the case by his client’s husband… but of course, he insists on completing the case regardless of his client.

By putting a notice in the paper – I absolutely adore vintage mysteries for things like this: putting an ad in the paper, sending a telegram, consulting the Who’s Who … these things may not be so much a part of society now, but back in the day it was the most effective way to get information – Poirot locates our missing Cook, who was awarded an inheritance on the condition that she took ownership of the house immediately! The show takes us into the country, where the Cook now resides.

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INTRODUCING THE SWEETEST OLD LADY IN THIS SHOW EVER ACTUALLY
We’re only on the first episode but I want you to know is that no one more delightful is ever on this show again, we might as well stop here. Cook is DELIGHTFUL and SWEET and her little house is so WEE but of course, she has been bamboozled in some way.

Agatha Christie was a pretty decent fiction writer but she loved the ~Person in disguise~ trope and used it often. In this case it’s a man pretending to be an Australian wearing an elaborate fake beard.

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Poirot: A Show About False Beards

Sometimes the beards or wigs are better than others. Try and guess next time you watch an episode which character is pretending to be someone they aren’t! You might be correct… or they might just be wearing a bad wig. You never know!!

So, this plot is convoluted: the missing banker isn’t missing, but *lightning flash* MURDERED! and the Cook was lured away from her home so that her trunk could be stolen in order to hide the CORPSE of the missing banker! *lightning flash* Ah you see, the most straightforward murder plot pretty much ever.

My favorite part about this episode is that Poirot tells Scotland Yard to look for a trunk that is containing a dead body and then we see a montage of officers carefully inspecting tiny parcels looking for CLUES.

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My notes from watching this: “Great job policemen A+ searching there”

But eventually, the trunk IS found and it DOES contain a body and it is MURDER and Poirot catches the bad guy, literally by yelling “STOP THAT MAN” from a balcony- the strangest, most hands-off and completely underwhelming chase in history.

The show ends with Poirot declaring that All Cases Are Important even though historically Poirot remains vain and will still turn cases down whenever he pleases. I’m sad because I’d really like to know what happens with Sweet Cook and her Bamboozlement, but alas, that’s not to be.

Overall, this episode was beautiful, charming, and totally convoluted.

False Beard Count: 1
Luggage as a Plot Point: 1
Hastings Astonishment Ranking: Level 2

Live Posting

I’ve been thinking a lot about posting about random things and talking about my life more but also I have wanted to start doing a MURDER MYSTERY BLOG thing, and while I could make a separate blog about how much I love old murder mystery shows, why commit before I’m rich and famous?

So anyway, pretty soon we (and by ‘we’ I mean me and YOU, the reader) are beginning a joyous journey of MYSTERY WATCH with brittneigh!!

mysterywatch

The plan is to start at the beginning of Poirot and blog/discuss/mention each episode until the Curtain (which I have never read nor watched and before today have refused to watch). Whether I actually accomplish this remains to be seen, however, I have grand plans.

C, my lovely boyfriend and partner, is skeptical of this idea, and I quote, “Why don’t you start with Miss Fisher or a show people actually watch?” and I’m still VERY OFFENDED he even suggested that CLASSIC POIROT is unwatchable in some way (I think my love for Poirot is one of those things that makes C doubt his love for me in some way, alongside my desire to someday wear an elaborate outfit completely covered in leopard print).

Regardless, I’m going to give it a go! it should be fun !brittkneeeeeeee

2 years

Wow! A whole lot can happen in 2 years. Like, just about everything you can imagine:

  • C moved from Oregon to Texas to live with me
  • We lived in a 400 sq ft studio together for A YEAR and didn’t murder each other (and actually came out of it pretty happy and wow, that is just crazy, isn’t it?)
  • We moved into a bigger apartment with a dishwasher and also FEWER COCKROACHES
  • We got a cat??? I never thought I’d own a cat. But he is orange and cranky and full of purrs and my little lion friend. IMG_20161113_201450.jpg
  • I somehow survived and also graduated from my Master’s program?????!
  • I somehow had a tan when I came home for the summer
  • I have a full time job in my career field now??
  • I saw DOLLY FREAKIN’ PARTON LIVE and my life has changed for the better (more glitter, always)
  • UT got a new Bevo, a BABY BEVO and he’s adorable and I love him.
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But seriously. So many things have happened, and I’ve really missed this silly space! I’m not sure. I miss having some searchable record preserved in the internet about my life- I think grad school is the first era since before junior high where I haven’t kept any form of online blog (I’m not sure if Twitter really counts), and I really, *really* have missed posting photos and lists and talking about my life. So I am thinking that I’m back.

Of course, this space is going to continue to be what it is, and that is a mish-mash jumble of jokes and free-writes and nothings and lists and stupid things I feel like posting, because I’m not sure i have the attention span for anything else. So to all of my new friends, hello! I hope you enjoy my writing, even if you already see a lot of my life on twitter. And to my old friends, hello! I miss you dearly.

That’s it. I think. And more to come.

BRITTNEIGH IS MY NAAAME-O