Perfect for lovers of period drama and detective stories alike.
Unsurprisingly, Simeon Lee is murdered two days before Christmas, and of course just about anyone could have done it. You feel somewhat sorry for Poirot finding himself in the midst of this awful family, with their constant bitchiness and backstabbing. Particularly as he doesn't have the amiable Captain Hastings along (I missed Hugh Fraser's presence in this production). When the murder has been committed though Poirot has the perfect excuse to summon Inspector Japp, who is staying with his in-laws just across the border in Wales, and glad of any excuse to get away from their incessant carol-singing!
The action in this has been compressed from the original novel, which covered the whole Christmas holiday, to just three days. But it also has much more of a Christmas atmosphere than the book did, in which, apart from the title and the dates, you wouldn't have known it was Christmas at all. The difficulty with this story is that Simeon Lee is so awful that you don't actually want the culprit for his murder to be caught!
That said, it's not so much of a mess as it could have been. The team that ruined The Murder of Roger Achroyd two years ago haven't actually ruined this. Some of the performances (Doctor Leidner, Miss Johnson and, of course Poirot and Hastings) are rather good. And most of the plot is essentially the same as the book, albeit with a few deviations which can, for the most part, be forgiven. THe location filming is impressive too, but this doesn't make up for the appalling script. It says somethibg that the BBC Radio adaptation does a much better job at evoking mystery and a sense of the Middle East.
All in all then, not the worst Poirot by a long chalk, but it could - no, should - have been SOOOOOO much better.