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The ABC Murders

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The ABC Murders TV Poster Image
Gritty, overly dark mystery series has an older Poirot.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Murders aren’t easily solved, but can be with good sleuthing. Ageism and racism are themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Poirot is old, depressed, and imperfect, but perseveres. 

Violence

Some people collapse and die. Others are violently attacked and killed, and their bloody wounds are visible. Sexual violence and sadomasochism is alluded to. 

Sex

Strong sexual innuendo, including sounds of simulated sexual activity and references to prostitution. 

Language

Words like "bastard," "slut" are occasionally used. 

Consumerism

The series is an installment of the Agatha Christie franchise. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine and hard liquor are consumed frequently. Cigarette smoking is visible, as is common for the time. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The ABC Murders, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s popular book, features some bloody murder scenes and lots of grown-up themes. For a classic story, there's some strong sexual innuendo that includes references to sadomasochism. There’s plenty of drinking and cigarette smoking, and language is light but does include words like "bastard."

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What's the story?

Based on the book of the same name, THE ABC MURDERS is a British miniseries featuring none-other than French detective Hercule Poirot. It’s 1933 London, and Poirot (played by John Malkovich) is old, gray, and no longer the celebrity he once was among the nationalistic British. But when he receives threats of murder in the mail by a sender who only identifies him/herself as A.B.C., he senses danger. But all his friends, including Inspector Japp (Kevin McNally), have moved on, and Poirot is left dealing with the young and arrogant Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint) while trying to solve this mystery by himself. 

Is it any good?

This contemporary British adaptation of the popular Agatha Christie book, which has inspired other reworkings of the story, offers a dark narrative full of murderous twists. Poirot is introduced as a lonely, guilt-ridden figure forced to cope with the fact that he's older and no longer in fashion. While this doesn't stop him from solving the murders, it paints a pathetic portrait of a once energetic and entertainingly quirky hero. 

Some viewers may find it entertaining, but diehard fans of the book may also be frustrated by the various other ways this miniseries veers away from the original story, which removes some key characters. But perhaps the most troubling is its overall grittiness, which is an obvious departure from the smart plot twists and well-timed subtle humor for which Agatha Christie’s work is known for. As a result, The ABC Murders feels dark and heavy, making it more of a misguided psychological thriller instead of a fun whodunnit. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of Agatha Christie’s stories over the years. What is it about them that make them appealing throughout generations? 

  • What messages does this version of The ABC Murders offer about how we treat the elderly over the years? What does it say about racism in Britain during the 1930s?

TV details

For kids who love mysteries

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