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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Les Petits Meurtres D'Agatha Christie Set 1'

Dennis King Published: February 24, 2014

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Les Petits Meurtres D’Agatha Christie Set 1”

Agatha Christie, that most British of whodunit authors, gets a dash of French savoir-faire in “Les Petits Meurtres D’Agatha Christie Set 1” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

This French-language TV series (with English subtitles) adapts several of Christie’s well-known mysteries – from both novels and short stories – into pithy 90-minute puzzlers set in 1930s and 1950s France. Set 1 draws from the 2009-2010 seasons of the series, which is now in its four year.

In 1930s France, episodes follow the sleuthing of Superintendent Larosiere (Antoine Dulery), a droll detective with an eye for beautiful women, and his hapless assistant, Inspector Lampion (Marius Colucci), an effete novice who wryly confesses, “I don’t fancy girls.” The adaptations exercise wide literary license in casting the lead detectives as continental amalgams of the classic Christie sleuths Poirot and Miss Marple.

Episodes featuring the often bickering Larosiere and Lampion are drawn from Christie’s “The ABC Murders,” “Ordeal By Innocence,” “Peril at End House,” “Cat Among the Pigeons,” “Sad Cypress” and “The Body in the Library.”

The final episode of Set 1 switches to the 1950s and features the suave Commissioner Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) as he unravels some gruesome murders at a mental institution (drawn from Christie’s “They Do It With Mirrors”) with the antagonistic aid of an aggressive female reporter, Alice (Blandine Bellavoir).

The bones of these stories are essentially true to the original works but are dressed up with stylish French period costumes, cars, settings and lush landscapes, which provide a fresh and surprising new perspective on Christie’s classic tales.

“Les Petits Meurtres D’Agatha Christie Set 1” is not rated (but contains nudity, sensual situations, violence, and coarse language). It runs 663 minutes on four discs and is being released by Acorn Media.

- Dennis King


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