Chris Hicks: ‘Wodehouse Playhouse,’ ‘Marple’ and ‘Poirot’ lead TV shows released on DVD this week
“Wodehouse,” “Marple” and “Poirot” lead these TV series that have arrived on DVD this week.
“Wodehouse Playhouse: the Complete Collection” (Acorn, 1975-78, six discs, $59.99, 20 episodes, photo galleries, text biography of Wodehouse; insert with background notes on the stories). This very funny half-hour sitcom is an anthology series, each episode adapting one of P.G. Wodehouse’s many humorous tales, with John Alderton and wife Pauline Collins portraying different characters in the first two seasons and Alderton with other female co-stars in the third.
The world of Wodehouse is both witty and absurdist, but everything is played straight, which only adds to the comic effect, and Alderton and Collins are perfect. This is all veddy British but easily crosses the Pond, and some of the dialog exchanges are very funny. (This set has optional subtitles if the accents get too thick.)
Wodehouse must have been pleased with this series, since, during the last year of his life when he was 92, he recorded introductions for the first season.
“Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: the Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries” (Acorn, 1983-84, three discs, $49.99, 11 episodes). Set in the 1920s, this hour-long series has Tommy and Prudence “Tuppence” Beresford (James Warwick, Francesca Annis) as proprietors of a detective agency who solve mysteries together that range from poisoned chocolates to poltergeists. Great fun for British mystery fans.
“Agatha Christie’s Poirot & Marple: Fan Favorites Collection” (Acorn, 1989-2010, six discs, 11 episodes; booklet). If you’re a fan of the British murder-mystery series of the title but aren’t a collector, this release of favorite episodes voted on by fans is a great way to go. Included are six Poirot stories starring David Suchet, including the feature-length “Murder on the Orient Express,” as well as five feature-length “Marple” episodes with Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie.
“Femme Fatales: the Complete First Season” (eOne, 2011, three discs, $29.98, 13 episodes, b/w version of one episode, deleted/alternate scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers, photo gallery). This Cinemax cable show derived from the now-defunct Femme Fatales magazine is an anthology of half-hour film noir yarns, each focusing on duplicitous women who double-cross their men. If rated, these movies would be R-rated.
“Rootin’ Tootin’ Wild West” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $14.99, six episodes). Western-themed episodes of “Dora the Explorer,” “Bubble Guppies,” “Go, Diego, Go!” and others. (Exclusively at Wal-Mart.)
“Bubble Guppies: On the Job!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013, $14.99, six episodes). Job-oriented episodes, including doctors, dentists, firefighters, etc.
“Stone Soup and other stories from the Asian tradition” (Scholastic, 2013, $14.95, four episodes, featurette, read-along). Four illustrated stories on Asian culture, two narrated by actor B.D. Wong. For ages 4-9.
“Stories About African-American Heritage, featuring 'March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World'” (Scholastic, 2013, three discs, $24.95, 13 stories, featurettes, discussion questions, read-along). This set collects three previously released discs: “Duke Ellington,” “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears” and “March On!” For ages 4-10.
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