Monday, 9 March 2020


[Favourite of the Month] Columbo lives in South West England. No kidding.

« OK... What have we got?
- Er... Well, someone's been murdered. »

A homeless man is shot dead in the mansion of engineer/entrepreneur Maxton Crockett, one of Bath's most prominent citizens, while its owner is away from the historic city with his pregnant wife. DCI Lauren McDonald, an ambitious young woman just transferred from South London, arrives on the crime scene and meets her new deputy. It's the middle-aged, shy and modest DS Dodds, back on the field after a 11-year desk job.

Traces of a break-in and a missing ancient Roman artefact suggest a burglary gone bad. Chief Superintendent John Houseman wants McDonald to wrap up the investigation quickly and to push Dodds into early retirement. The biggest pressure actually comes from Max Crockett himself and his family. And DS Dodds seems incompatible with the current style of policing. But the little sergeant in a beige anorak, who dips his chips in butter, has a keen eye for details. Things like a hat, a light bulb, a peregrine falcon and a wet stone step.

McDonald & Dodds -formerly Invisible - is a 2 x 90-minute mystery drama produced by Mammoth Screen (Endeavour) for ITV. Created and written by Robert Murphy (DCI Banks), it's a most pleasant take on the mismatched detective duo where the crime-solving genius isn't in the foreground. It's also an affectionate homage to Columbo in a setting reminiscent of Inspector Morse's Oxford. The brilliant Jason Watkins (The Crown, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) is Dodds, the unassuming DS with no first name.

« He, er... He makes annoying things disappear.
- Not all of them! »

The very good Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet) brings a touch of subtlety to the efficiency-seeking DCI McDonald. Other regulars are Pearl Chanda (DC Laura Simpson), Jack Riddiford (DC Darren Craig) and the excellent James Murray (Cucumber, Primeval) as the very politician Chief Superintendent Houseman. In The Fall of The House of Crockett, directed by Richard Senior, guest star Robert Lindsay (My Family) plays the manipulative Crockett, a shakespearean version of James Dyson or Alan Sugar.

With Natalie Mendoza (Mathilde Crockett), Sebastian Knapp (Seth Murdoch), Rosalie Craig (Megan Wattal), Susannah Fielding (Tamara Valentine), Jack Ashton (Jack Valentine), Roger Evans (Mikey Wallace), Navin Chowdhry (Pete Wattal), Ellie Kendrick (Ellie Crockett) and Cassie Bradley (Kasha Perry). Produced by Amy Thurgood. Co-produced by Sarah Lewis. Exec produced by Preethi Mavahalli, Robert Murphy and Damien Timmer.

Music by Blair Mowat (Happy!). Cinematography by Giulio Biccari. Editing by Meredith Leece. Titles by Liquid TV. Distributed by ITV Studios. With its likeable sleuths, its well-crafted plots, great dialogues and a talented cast, McDonald & Dodds has all to please the amateurs of the genre and (of course) the fans of Lieutenant Columbo around the world. It would be pure gold for France 3, the Gaullic home of Vera or Midsomer Murders.

« I suppose I've always been, erm... invisible. »

Thursday, 27 February 2020


The 21st series of Midsomer Murders (four 90-minute episodes) premiered last December in the United States on streaming services Britbox and Acorn TV

In the United Kingdom, episodes 1 and 2 aired on ITV on January 21st and February the 4th respectively. The venerable detective drama stars Neil Dudgeon (DCI John Barnaby), Nick Hendrix (DS Jamie Winter), Annette Badland as pathologist Dr. Fleur Perkins and Fiona Dolman (Sarah Barnaby). Isabel Shaw plays Betty Barnaby.

- The Sting of Death (Episode 3): There's a potentially dangerous swarm on the loose after a case of bee rustling with violence. DCI Barnaby and DS Winter visits the victim, master beekeeper and historic honey producer Ambrose Deddington. Sarah finally convinces a reluctant John to attend a yoga class. An excellent episode written by Julia Gilbert (Agatha Raisin) and directed by Matt Carter.

With Bryan Dick (Cyrus Babbage), Jack Fox (Jude Deddington), Derek Griffiths (Reverend Nigel Bookthorpe), Griff Rhys Jones (Ambrose), Ben Starr (Noah Moon), Imogen Stubbs (Tamara Deddington), Nina Toussaint-White (Hannah Bookthorpe), etc.

- With Baited Breath (Episode 4): Fishermen are eager to catch a giant fish (supposed to lurk in a lake) during the Solomon Gorge "Fishaton". Their plans are threatened when hundred of participants arrive for the Psycho Mud Run, including Jamie and Sarah Barnaby. Most regrettably, the slow and clumsy With Baited Breath is a weak way to conclude this 21st series. 

The fish thing and the mud run weirdly sound like two distinct scripts. Maybe they shouldn't film Barnaby and Winter off duty after all. With Aneurin Barnard (Freddie Lamb), Eleanor Fanyinka (Jade-Marie Pierce), Nitin Ganatra (Eric Skye), Miles Jupp (Cornelius Tedbury), Nicola Stephenson (Izzy Silvermane), etc. Written by Jeff Povey. Directed by Jennie Darnell.

Produced by Bentley Productions (an All3Media company) for ITV.  Produced by Guy Hescott. Co-produced by Ian Strachan. Exec produced by Michele Buck and Louise Pedersen. Music composed by Evan Jolly. Midsomer theme composed by Jim Parker. Editing by Simon Starling (Episode 3) and Peter Williams (Episode 4). Cinematography by Al Beech. Costumes designed by Sue Thomson

Based upon the books by Caroline GrahamDistributed by All3Media International. France 3 will show Episode 1 on March 8.

Monday, 24 February 2020


France's favourite gendarme meets the mortician.

No matter that Capitaine Marleau was once a brilliant detective drama created by Série Noire author and crime fiction expert scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau for director/producer Josée Dayan. What the fans enjoy most is neither the plots nor the guest actors (even David Suchet or Isabelle Adjani). It's when Corinne Masiero, its star, delivers Marleau's one-liners and social commentaries.

With 7 to 8 million viewers, the series can afford everything. Like shoehorning the capitaine in an aborted film project of Dayan (Double Jeu) or in a novel of Marc Eisenchteter, the story editor of Capitaine Marleau since 2018 (Ne plus mourir, jamais). Corinne Masiero can afford a lot too. The actress is reputed to ad lib, to the point that she's also credited with the writers: "Avec la complicité de Corinne Masiero". Not sure that the scribes asked for it.

Capitaine Marleau has become a one-woman show full of easy jokes, meta-references, free antics and the political views of Corinne Masiero. They are well-known in France as she's very vocal about them. Pace è Salute, the irritating previous episode, caught almost 7 million viewers (31.4%!) so you'd think the forces behind France's most watched drama don't mind that it turned into stand-up comedy. Well, for Veuves mais pas trop it looks that they were a tad worried.

An anonymous tip brings Captain Marleau in the funeral parlor of Stanislas Turner after the disappearance of a dead body and an accusation of murder. The quite confused plot is less interesting than a curious case of countless cut clues. The editing seems to be used to restrict the effects of Corinne Masiero's freewheeling and in Veuves mais pas trop it shows right from the start. Anyway a couple of scenes cannot be saved.

Turner is played by Édouard Baer with a bit of Otis, his character in Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. Bruno Lochet (Le crime lui va si bien) plays Adjudant Michel Pichon. He's the second member of the Deschiens theater company to be a deputy of Marleau after Philippe Duquesne in Pace è Salute. Belgian actor and French television legend Jean-Claude Drouot makes a welcome return as the Falstaffian pathologist Leopold Salaun

With Anne Brochet (Martine Lemaître), Isabelle Candelier (Juliette Massoni)Maïra Schmitt (Ariane Turner), Nicolas Robin (Melchior Turner)Valentine Cadic (Virginie Lemaître)Olivier Broche (Dr. Morel), Noémie Lenoir (Marguerite Vitali), etc. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. Co-produced by Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films with France Télévisions, Pictanovo and the support of Région Hauts-de-France.

With the participation of RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). Olivier Schmitt is the production manager. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Music composed by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Capitaine Marleau is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Captain Marleau. Written by Sylvain Saada with Corinne Masiero. Directed by Josée Dayan.

Veuves mais pas trop will premiere on France 3 on February 25th.

See also: (Pace è Salute) (Quelques maux d'amour) (Grand Huit)