As a show ages, the probability of becoming progged reaches 1. Poz finds a way to creep into shows. It is the Hollywood game that no opportunity to overtly or subtly push The Narrative must be missed. Humans cannot escape it. Is there a way to fight the poz creep? It is too late for a franchise like Star Wars, and Mad Men went off the rails in season five, but maybe there is away. Agatha Christie's Poirot offers a path.
Poirot was the BBC series that adapted Poirot detective novels to the small screen. It started in 1989, and aired embellished short stories that featured the prissy Belgian detective in England. With some critical acclaim and success, the show turned into that show your aunt watched by herself and felt slightly higher brow than you for doing so. The adaptations were mostly under one hour with faithful representations of the days of Interwar England. Plots were definitely not pozzed.
Then it started. Being a neutral show in a period setting was not enough. It was not as bad as Downton Abbey's pozzing but immediately starting in 2003 with a switch in production teams and higher quality technical aspects, the poz crept in. Suddenly female characters left Agatha Christie's normally neutral portrayal to be much more girl power. Female characters were wearing pants far more often than one would expect in 1930s England.
There were worse insertions, starting with that 2003 revamp. There were gay characters inserted where no gay character had been, and this was done repeatedly, and even in episodes where it had no bearing on the murder. There was even a hipster looking character put into a very late episode. Did they write in an incest bit one film? Yes, with Michael Fassbender playing the naughty cousin. It was eye-roll inducing.
Something happened though that felt like a reaction but was an even more weird insertion for 2000s media. The show got more religious. It was not to make religion look like a quaint superstition. The lead character Poirot himself got religious. Praying, holding a rosary, giving a rosary as a gift, and all of this was simply inserted and not from the books.
The adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was far superior to other adaptations because instead of Poirot being a toady for the wealthy and connected, he called them out invoking God. The very nature of sin, guilt, justice and God's mercy or wrath were debated, and not just from a Catholic perspective but Protestant. Characters were shown praying as if it were normal and a good thing.
How did this happen? It happened because the actor playing the lead, the indispensable character, went through a religious transformation of his own. David Suchet, who was marvelous also in The Way We Live Now, converting to the Anglican faith. They could not replace him as he had also done a fantastic job portraying Poirot, and by that stage in the show's run, could not be replaced. Suchet was irreplaceable and therefore antifragile. If he wanted some crosses and prayers, the show would insert some.
Like any corporate lackey that seems to avoid the axe at layoffs, one has to be indispensable. One also has to have the will and drive to resist or push counter-narratives. Suchet was strong in faith and impossible to get rid of. If he annoyed showrunners and writers, well they were going to give into the man who had become Hercule Poirot and carried the show for years. Who was going to junk the man who brought the chubby little detective to life? That was all religion had going for it as that show aged. That is why The Narrative is dominant: system wide control of the organs of messaging.