Friday, 28 April 2017


Things are not going well for Josef Matula. Why is he lying unconscious on a North Sea beach? Maybe he should have kept his job in this Frankfurt department store. 

But being a private investigator is what Matula does best. Four years after his final episode of Ein Fall für Zwei, Claus Theo Gärtner returns as Josef Matula. A German television legend is back... And it's brilliant.
Review ASAP.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


15 dead men are found frozen in a stolen bus on a country road of the north of France. The bodies were manicured, their hair done and they were elegantly dressed after their death. 

Those men all disappeared three years ago and all loved the same woman at some point. She vanished around the same period... until now.

The second series of French crime drama Witnesses (Les Témoins) is now available in France on DVD thanks to Koba Films.

DVD Review ASAP.

In the meantime, you can read our Spoiler-free review of Episodes 1 and 2.

Monday, 24 April 2017


In the beautiful Black Forest region of West Germany, Professor Klaus Brinkmann runs the Schwarzwaldklinik, a prestigious private hospital.

The German cult medical drama Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik, 1985-1989) is available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films since February, with the release of the first half of Series 1 as "La clinique de la Forêt-Noire - Saison 1".

Die Schwarzwaldklinik originated from an idea by TV producer Wolfgang Rademann, the creative force behind the lighthearted ZDF series Das Traumschiff ("The Dream Ship") for Polyphon Film- und Fernseh GmbH. This German answer to The Love Boat (1977-1986), which premiered in November 1981, still exists today. For two years Rademann tried to convince the channel to air something in the vein of the Czechoslovak medical drama Nemocnice na kraji mesta (1978-1981), shown in both East and West Germany under the title Das Krankenhaus am Rande der Stadt. Until ZDF entertainment boss Peter Gerlach told him: "You're getting on my nerves. Do it yourself!" (1) 

Produced by Polyphon, Die Schwarzwaldklinik started filming during summer 1984 in the district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald. Crime drama scriptwriter Herbert Lichtenfeld (Tatort) wrote the entire series. Veteran movie and television director Alfred Vohrer helmed the 90-minute pilot (Die Heimkehr) and 11 episodes of the first series. His impressive filmography includes a long string of Edgar Wallace movies and some Winnetou films but also several episodes of producer Helmut Ringelmann's hits Derrick and Der Alte. Experienced TV helmer Hans-Jürgen Togel took over from Vohrer until the end of Die Schwarzwaldklinik in 1989.

A competent ensemble cast is headed by stage, movie and TV actor Klausjürgen Wussow as Professor Klaus Brinkmann and Gaby Dohm as Nurse Christa. Wolfgang Rademann wanted Armin Mueller-Stahl (Veronika Voss, Lola) and Thekla Carola Wied (Ich heirate eine Familie) but they didn't wish to bind themselves with the series on the long-term. Dr. Udo Brinkmann (2), Prof. Brinkmann's impetuous and womanizing son, is played by Sascha Hehn, aka Chief steward Victor Burger in Das Traumschiff. Hehn came back aboard the Dream Ship as Victor and his twin brother Stefan Burger. Victor Burger finally got promoted to Captain three years ago in Das Traumschiff and he appeared in Kreuzfahrt ins Glück, its spinoff (which debuted in 2007).

Klaus Brinkmann returns to his hometown with his housekeeper Käti to become the chief physician of the reputable Black Forest Clinic. His wife died a while ago and he's separated from with his anesthetist girlfriend, Dr. Elena Bach. Klaus has a complicated relationship with his son Udo, who lives in the family house and works at the clinic as a doctor. Later he meets Nurse Christa, who has an affair with Udo. The doctors of the Schwarzwaldklinik are confronted to all sort of patients and situations. The victims of a road accident and the man who caused it, a woman with cancer and her husband, a life prisoner who has an ulcer, etc. Professor Brinkmann is even taken hostage by bank robbers.

Karin Hart (Käti), Karl Walter Diess (Dr. Schäfer), Franz Rudnick (Dr. Wolter), Holger Petzold (Dr. Rens), Eva Maria Bauer (Head nurse Hildegard), Barbara Wussow (Klausjürgen Wussow's daughter) as Nurse Elke, and Jochen Schroder as the sympathetic Nurse Mischa are amongst the other Series 1 regulars. Familiar faces pop up in this first series: Werner Kreindl (Soko 5113), Christiane Krüger (Arsene Lupin joue et perd, Star Maidens), Rainer Hunold (later in Ein Fall für Zweï, Dr. Sommerfeld – Neues vom Bülowbogen and Der Staatsanwalt), Philipp Moog, Alexander Wussow (3), Rolf Schimpf (later Leo Kress in Der Alte) or Karin Baal.

Launched in October 1985, Die Schwarzwaldklinik quickly became highly popular and attracted up to 28 million viewers. It ended in March 1989 after 70 episodes (pilot included). Sold in 38 countries, the series was shown in France on M6 in 1987 as La clinique de la Forêt-Noire, and in the UK on Channel 4 (dubbed) in 1988 under the title Black Forest Clinic. The characters of Black Forest Clinic reappeared in a 1991 Christmas crossover between several ZDF series. In 2005, the German pubcaster aired a 20th birthday special titled Die Schwarzwaldklinik - Die nächste Generation. It was followed the same year by Die Schwarzwaldklinik - Neue Zeiten. Both TV movies were helmed by Hans-Jürgen Togel.

The exterior of the "Black Forest Clinic" is actually The Carlsbau, a building which houses a health clinic in Glottertal. The outside of the beautiful "Villa Brinkmann" is the Hüsli local history museum in Grafenhausen-Rothaus. Film and TV composer Martin Böttcher (the Winnetou movies) was hired for the music and wrote a main theme but he was replaced by Hans Hammerschmid, who composed the famous Hallo - Dr.B. and the rest of the soundtrack. Böttcher's theme served as the intro of ZDF's Forsthaus Falkenau (1988-2013). The 4-disc Koba Films DVD set contains the pilot + 11 episodes of the first series, in French only. It's an excellent opportunity to revisit (or to discover) a bona fide German television classic.

(2) "Hugues" in the French dubbing.
(3) Son of Klausjürgen Wussow. In 2005 he played Dr. Benjamin Brinkmann in the two TV specials.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Struck by a personal tragedy, Commissaire Swan Laurence is not at all in the mood to investigate a crime committed during the filming of the new movie starring Blanche Dulac

On the set he finds a bad remedy for his situation, while Alice Avril finds love with a crew member.
« Un mort sur le tournage de Blanche Dulac? Mais c'est merveilleux, Alice! »

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie welcomes writers Jennifer Have and Zina Modiano and director Rodolphe Tissot (The Churchmen/Ainsi soient-ils) with Le miroir se brisa. This adaptation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple novel The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side is the first of two new episodes filmed between October and December 2016. The fact that the big budget series had to leave its production base to build new sets elsewhere and a regrettable drop in the quality of the previous batch of episodes hurt neither its ratings nor its popularity. Les petits meurtres is a hit even in repeats! (1)

Last year saw an apparent reorientation of the Laurence/Avril/Marlène era of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie to something in the line of their predecessors Larosière and Lampion, hence less comedy and fast-paced banters. Le miroir se brisa keeps it that way with an interesting script and a good direction for a rather reassuring result. The life of Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) falls apart when Dr. Euphrasie Maillol (2), his great love, dies in a plane crash. Devastated, the commissaire rejects the support of Marlène (Élodie Frenck), who remembers about her "Tonton Léon" (« Tonton Léon, suicidé au Paris-Brest. »)

« Alice détective. J'aime bien. »

Laurence treats the sympathy of Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) no better. Worse, he neglects his new case: Simone Maupin, the "Hand double" of movie star Blanche Dulac (the fabulous Anne Consigny), has been poisoned during the shooting of the latest film directed by Blanche's husband Marc Borel (Nicolas Briançon). Swan is particularly odious with his loyal secretary and even with the victim's son. He ends up accepting a very special prescription from Dr. Jacques Mentchikoff (Luc-Antoine Diquéro, impressive), the sinister personal physician of the actress. 

« Vous êtes mon ange blond, Marlène. »

Jennifer Have and Zina Modiano bring the main characters on new territories. Thankfully for Marlène, who reached her limits in Le cheval pâle. The writers allow Élodie Frenck a couple of touching moments, as Laurence's secretary goes undercover in the entourage of Blanche Dulac and meets the star's disabled young son. Samuel Labarthe is given the opportunity to explore another aspect of his character. And Blandine Bellavoir steals the episode thanks to the encounter of Alice with Fred, the set photographer played by Camille Rutherford.

Scriptwriters Jeanne Le Guillou and Bruno Dega brought back some life in Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie with Albert Major parlait trop. The enthusiastic work of Have and Modiano on Le miroir se brisa restores a bit of the series's greatness, damaged by the abysmal La mystérieuse affaire de Styles. The rest of the cast includes Alice Vial (Sylvia Franco), the excellent Cyril Gueï as pathologist Dr. Timothée Glissant, the talented Dominique Thomas (Tricard), Éric Beauchamp (Martin), François Godart (Robert Jourdeuil), Adeline-Fleur Baude (Simone), etc. 

Produced by Escazal Films and France Télévisions, with the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France. Sophie Révil is the producer. Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. Music composed by Stéphane Moucha. Swiss television RTS aired Le miroir se brisa ahead of French pubcaster France 2. The next episode is L'homme au complet marron (based on The Man in the Brown Suit), written by Thierry Debroux and directed by Rodolphe Tissot. The Laurence/Avril/Marlène era of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Agatha Christie's Criminal Games.

(2) Played by Natacha Lindinger in 3 episodes, here seen through stock shots.

This review will be revised ASAP.