Friday, February 04, 2011

CHRONOLOGY: 1939

MARCH/APRIL: The Big Four
I haven't seen this episode myself yet, but it has aired in Poland (October 2013). Thanks to a Polish fan, ueetba, I can place the episode in March/April 1939. In other words, this is as far as we can be certain the Poirot series has come. Ueetba has kindly provided the screencaps below. He also tells me there's no specific references to how long Hastings, Japp and Miss Lemon have been gone from the series, nor is there any explanation as to what they've been up to. Thankfully, this means that a 1939 setting, about two years since we last saw them (in chronology terms) would work.

 One of the first things we see in the episode is a letter received by Hastings in Argentina (see above). The post stamp clearly gives the date "20 APR 1939".

 After the initial prologue, which includes the letter to Hastings, a caption reads "Four weeks earlier", which leads us back to early March.

 Later in the episode, Flossie Monro receives a boquet of flowers. According to ueetba, this is in April. The action soon returns to the events of the prologue, which is set in April (as we established with Hastings' letter).

 Finally, a theatre that features prominently in the episode had it's last repertory season in 1924. Flossie Monro explains that this was "fifteen years ago". That gives us the year 1939.

MAY: The Clocks
Several things point towards a late-1930s setting for this episode. Colin Race and the Navy are turning the tunnels under Dover Castle “into a bomb proof HQ were things to come to a second war with Germany”. According to Wikipedia, the conversion of the tunnels took place just before the outbreak of the war in 1939, and they were used in military operations the following year. The Waterstones (the Jews) “came over in 1936 from Munich. They changed their name from Tuchmann”. Moreover, when arrested, Mr. Mabbutt says the following: “If Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement doesn’t hold and someone like Churchill (assumed office in May 1940) gets his hands on power, we will be dragged into a war a hundred times worse than the last one!”.

The episode is probably supposed to take place in spring 1938, as Chamberlain did not sign the Munich Agreement until September 1938. When this failed, he began to prepare for war. So it could take place in spring 1939 as well. A matter of choice, I guess. Since the conversion of the tunnels was completed by the end of 1939 (according to Wikipedia), I’ve chosen to place it in May 1939.

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