With the new “Murder on the Orient Express” film hitting theaters, a TV version of the story is being released on DVD, along with a pair of Agatha Christie collections. Plus, “Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXIX.”
“Murder on the Orient Express” (Acorn, 2010). This feature-length adaptation of the classic mystery is actually an episode of the British series “Agatha Christie’s Poirot.” David Suchet is the definitive incarnation of the fussy Belgian detective, having played the role in 70 episodes. Despite that, however, this is not my favorite “Orient Express,” although it is helped by the presence of Jessica Chastain, Hugh Bonneville, Barbara Hershey and Toby Jones. (There are now five film/TV versions, including a Japanese adaptation!)
“The Best of Agatha Christie, Volume 1” (Acorn, 2003-15, three episodes).
“The Best of Agatha Christie, Volume 2” (Acorn, 2010-16, three episodes). These two sets each have two episodes of “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” with David Suchet, plus a stand-alone British TV movie — “And Then There Were None” in the first set and “The Witness for the Prosecution” in the second. The Poirot episodes are aimed at casual mystery or Christie fans, as opposed to those who collect full-series sets. Guests include Emily Blunt, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Toby Jones and Kim Cattrall.
“Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXXIX” (Shout!, 1994-99, four discs, three episodes, segments of 11 unreleased episodes, featurettes, trailers; miniposters). The movies lampooned here are “Girls Town” (1959, b/w), “The Amazing Transparent Man” (1960, b/w) and “Danger: Diabolik” (1968). The fourth disc, titled “Satellite Dishes,” is composed of the “host segments” (skits) from 11 movies that will likely never be released on DVD due to copyright ownership, including “The Amazing Colossal Man” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf."
“American Masters: Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive” (PBS, 2017). Kathleen Turner narrates this nicely crafted semi-documentary about the seminal scary-story author Edgar Allan Poe. Actor Denis O’Hare portrays Poe, a writer who died too young at 40 and was besmirched by enemies. As a result, most of what we think we know about the writer is untrue, and this film seeks to correct those misrepresentations.
“The Good Karma Hospital: Series 1” (Acorn, 2017, two discs, six episodes, featurette, photo gallery). Disillusioned young English doctor Ruby Walker (Amrita Acharia) impulsively takes a job at the titular overcrowded, underfunded hospital in South India — mistakenly thinking she was headed for a modern urban clinic. The ensuing culture shock and encounters with eccentric colleagues and patients make for a surprisingly engaging and amusing medical soap opera.
“D.C. Follies: The Complete Series” (Shout!/MGM, 1987-89, four discs, 44 episodes). Here’s an intriguing, half-hour sitcom starring comic character actor Fred Willard as a Washington, D.C., bartender whose clientele is composed of famous showbiz and political luminaries played by puppets, courtesy of Sid & Marty Krofft (“H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Land of the Lost”). The political and pop culture references are dated but often quite funny, with occasional human guests dropping by, including Betty White, Mike Tyson, Martin Mull and horror star Robert Englund in his Freddy Krueger garb.