Tuesday, 19 May 2020


[Favourite of the Month] Starring Hannes Jaenicke, Der Amsterdam-Krimi was launched two years ago by German pubcaster Das Erste. It's one of the channel's feature-length crime dramas filmed abroad for its Donnerstags-Krimi line-up (like Der Zurich-Krimi or Kommissar Dupin).

Amsterdam Undercover (the international title of Der Amsterdam-Krimi) started with Tod in der Prinzengracht and Auferstanden von den Toten, two episodes shot between December 2017 and January 2018 and aired in November 2018.

Alex Pollack (Hannes Jaenicke), an undercover investigator for the LKA in Düsseldorf, wants to bring down a drug baron named Tom Fischer (Sascha Alexander Geršak). He handles the infiltration of his colleague and girlfriend Katja Wolf (Alice Dwyer), who became Fischer's right-hand person in Amsterdam under the alias Isabel Baumann. When Katja doesn't report to Alex for three months, he goes to the capital of the Netherlands without informing neither his superior, nor the Dutch authorities.

Pollack discovers that Katja/Isabel got dangerously close to the mobster. A confrontation with her at the Amsterdam Central Station ends up with Alex arrested by Dutch Commissioner  Bram de Groot (Fedja van Huêt) and his team. They put Tom Fischer and "Isabel Baumann" under surveillance as part of an investigation on a new dangerous designer drug. De Groot wants the man behind the whole operation: Frederik Koning (Raymond Thiry), a powerful investor with many connections. The commissioner joins forces with the German investigator, who must figure out whether Katja has gone much too far.

Loyalty is the theme of Tod in der Prinzengracht, the first part of a couple of captivating crime thrillers. Hannes Jaenicke is at his best amongst some excellent German and Dutch actors in the beautiful Amsterdam. In Auferstanden von den Toten, the death of a female student and the reappearance of a foreign worker provide Pollack and de Groot unexpected leads to Koning. This episode makes a great use of the locations, such as the fascinating Koepelgevangenis in Breda (a former prison).

Written by Peter Kohler. Based on a format by Rebecca Mahnkopf and Klaus Pieber. Directed by Michael Kreindl (Todes in der Prinzengracht) and  Peter Ladkani (Auferstanden von den Toten). Also with Sven Gerhardt (Thomas Breuer), Gijs Naber (Rijkaard), Birgit Welink (Renée), Peter Post (Rutger), Tanja Jess (Susanne Verbeek), Edon Rizvanolli (Driss), Omar El-Saeidi (Molo), Sigrid ten Napel (Hanna Meijer), etc. Produced by Ziegler Film Köln for ARD Degeto and Das Erste.

Marc O. Dreher exec produces. Produced by Barbara Thielen. Florian Nilson and Sandra Moll are the production managers for ARD Degeto. Production services by Ministry of film (Huub Meijer). Music by Andreas Helmle. Production designed by Alfred Schaaf. Cinematography by Anton Klima (Todes in der Prinzengracht) and Namche Okon (Auferstanden von den Toten). Editing by Nina Meister and Nathalie Pürzer. In June, Das Erste will show two new episodes of Der Amsterdam-Krimi (filmed during summer 2019): Tod im Hafenbecken and Das verschwundene Kind.

The same month, the channel will launch Van der Valk in Germany as Kommissar Van der Valk. The ITV detective drama is co-produced by ARD Degeto and filmed in Amsterdam too. Amsterdam Undercover is distributed by Beta Film.


See also:

Thursday, 30 April 2020


[Favourite of the Month] A classic British TV detective is back. And he's Dutch.

Created by English novelist Nicolas Freeling (1927-2003), Simon "Piet" Van der Valk is a cynical and intuitive Amsterdam police commissioner. Married to a French woman named Arlette, the Commissaris appeared in 11 books from 1962 to 1989. Freeling, who spent most of his life in continental Europe, was an admirer of Belgian author Georges Simenon. Called the "Dutch Maigret", Piet Van der Valk was first portrayed on-screen by German actor Wolfgang Kieling in the British film Amsterdam Affair (1968). Frank Finlay starred in three German/French TV movies between 1972 and 1975 (1). Bryan Marshall played the role in Because of the Cats/Niet voor de poezen, a Dutch-Belgian film released in 1973.

The best remembered version is the Thames Television series Van der Valk (1972-1973, 1977, 1991-1992), with Barry FosterEye Level, its theme music, is remembered too. Composed by Jack Trombey (2) and played by the Simon Park Orchestra, it became #1 in the UK charts in 1973. Some novels were adapted in the 1990s by BBC Radio 4. Now the character returns in Van der Valk, a 3 x 90-minute series produced by Company Pictures (Agatha Raisin) for ITV. Filmed entirely in Amsterdam last year, it stars Marc Warren (Beecham House, Hustle) as Piet Van der Valk. Dutch company NL Film (Penoza), Germany's ARD Degeto, Masterpiece (United States) and All3Media International co-produce. Scriptwriter Chris Murray (Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders), who exec produces with Michele Buck, brings back the detective for a modern and international audience.

"The original series was gritty, with stories of sex and drugs, and reflected the Amsterdam of its time. We wanted to develop stories about contemporary Amsterdam," explained Chris Murray to French journalist and TV series expert Alain Carrazé at MIPCOM 2019. "The city has always been this amazing cultural melting pot, with a tolerance for different religions.  We wanted to reflect that in a character who is non-judgmental and tolerant. He's interested in art but he also works in the streets. We certainly want to honour the "brand" of Van der Valk but we move it forward. The novels were quite existential and the stories wouldn't work for the TV audience today. So it was more appropriate to start afresh."

One of the notable changes is the absence of Arlette Van der Valk. Piet Van der Valk lives on a sailing barge and his briefing room is a tad unusual. He leads a team  composed of Inspector Lucienne Hassell (played by Maimie McCoy), his second-in-command and close friend, and the laid-back Sergeant Brad de Vries (Luke Allen-Gale). They are joined by Job Cloovers (Elliot Barnes-Worrell), a junior police officer who's eager to impress and likes stats. Their boss is the Chief Commissaris Julia Dahlman (Emma Fielding). Hendrik Davie (Darrell D'Silva) is the hard-drinking, full-mouthed pathologist. In Love in Amsterdam (3), the first episode, politics and art are linked when two seemingly unrelated men are found murdered on the same day and a young left-wing activist is missing.

The fresh approach of Chris Murray, who wrote the three episodes, works brilliantly. It doesn't exclude a bit of humour. Marc Warren is great as the moody detective. The excellent Maimie McCoy and him succeed in making the relationship between Van der Valk and Lucienne interesting. The rest of the regular cast is very good. With Frances Grey (Claudia Oosterhuis), Daniel Lapaine (Paul Oosterhuis), Stephanie Léonidas (Eva Meisner), Vineeta Rishi (Therese Remecker), Frieda Barnhard (Agatha Vos), Kees Boot (Bartel Peters), Reinout Bussemeker (Ed de Klerk), Mike Libanon (Cliff Palache), Peter Van Heerigen (Frank), etc. Director Colin Teague and Tibor Dingelstad, the Director of photography, know how to take advantage of the locations, especially the canals and the Rijksmuseum.

The talented Dutch composer Matthijs Kieboom (Master Spy) did a perfect job with the soundtrack. His superb theme intro, entitled Dutch Detective, nods to Eye Level. Produced by Keith Thompson. David Swetman and Louise Pedersen exec produce for All3Media International. Ronald Versteeg, Kaja Wolffers and Sabine Brian co-produce for NL Film.  Alexander Blaauw is the line producer. Ian Strachan is the head of production. Edited by Sándor Soetema. Jaap Hoek is the art director. Production designed by Alfred Schaaf. The beautiful main title sequence was designed by Planet X Title Design. Production supported by the NL Film Incentive. Distributed by All3Media International, Van der Valk will be shown in Germany next month on Das Erste as Kommissar Van der Valk.

(1) Van der Valk und das Mädchen, Van der Valk und die Reichen and Le bouc émissaire, aired in France as episodes of Pas de frontières pour l'inspecteur.
(2) A pseudonym of Dutch composer Jan Stoeckart (1927-2017).
(3) Love in Amsterdam is also the title of the first Van der Valk novel.

Special thanks to Alain Carrazé (8 Art Global).


See also:

https://www.programme-tv.net/tag/previously/ (Alain Carrazé's podcast about TV series)

Sunday, 26 April 2020


Launched in 2016, the brilliant German crime drama Der Zürich-Krimi returned this week on Das Erste with Borchert und die tödliche Falle. Borchert und der fatale Irrtum and Borchert und der Tote im See will follow.

Last year, the pubcaster aired two episodes: Borchert und die mörderische Gier and Borchert und der Sündenfall. Episodes 1 to 4 of Money. Murder. Zurich. (the international title of Der Zürich-Krimi) are available in the United States on the SVOD service MHZ Choice.

Der Zürich-Krimi stars the great Christian Kohlund (Das Traumhotel, Black Forest Clinic) as the melancholic Thomas Borchert, an "unlicensed attorney" who works in Zurich for lawyer Dominique Kuster. Ina Paule Klink (Wilsberg) co-stars as Dominique. Felix Kramer plays Police captain Marco Furrer (1). Star lawyer Dr. Reto Zanger, Dominique Kuster's father and an old friend of Thomas, is played by Robert Hunger-Bühler.

Other regulars are Susi Banzhaf as Regula Gabrielli (Dominique's assistant), Andrea Zogg as Beat Bürki-Borchert's "personal" taxi driver, and Yves Wüthrich (Urs Aeggi, Furrer's deputy). Dominique and Regula hear a strange message on the law firm's voicemail. A distraught young man named Julian Stolz requires a legal help in emergency without further precision. As he recklessly rides his motorcycle on the way to her office, he has a traffic accident and falls into coma.

Touched by the situation of Julian because it reminds him of a personal tragedy, Thomas Borchert starts his own investigation. Stolz, an art student, had a strong interest for Islam and he was linked to the mysterious Said Allawi. The police finds out that a dark van with fake diplomatic licence plates is involved in the "accident". Julian's father is a shady businessman who sells illegal antiques. Borchert feels that this case is less about extremism and more about greed.

Written by Wolf Jacoby (the SOKO franchise) and directed by Roland Suso Richter (The Tunnel), Börchert und die mörderische Gier is an effective return to thriller after the more conventional Borchert und die Macht der Gewohneit. Christian Kohlund, whose presence is always impressive, leads an excellent cast including a subtle and charismatic performance by Neil Malik Abdullah (4 Blocks) as Imam Sheik Ibrahim Al-Khatib.

Also with Kai Wiesinger (Heller), Valery Tscheplanowa (Lisa Stolz), Justus Czaja (Julian Stolz), Alireza Bayram (Said Allawi), etc. Produced by Graf Film for ARD Degeto and Das Erste. Co-produced with Mia Film. Produced by Klaus Graf, Annemarie Pilgram and Michal Pokorný. Kirsten Frehse (ARD Degeto) is the line producer.

Music by Michael Klaukien and Andreas Lonardoni. Cinematography by Max Knauer. Filmed in Prague and Zurich. Made with the support of the Czech Film Fund. Distributed by Beta Film.

(1) Katrin Bauerfeind played Dominique Kuster in the first episode. Pierre Kiwitt replaced Felix Kramer as Police captain Marco Furrer from Episode 7.

https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2020/04/money-murder-zurich-der-zurich-krimi.html (Episode 7)
https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2019/07/money-murder-zurich-der-zurich-krimi.html (Episodes 3 & 4)
https://tattard2.blogspot.com/2019/06/money-murder-zurich-der-zurich-krimi.html (Episodes 1 & 2)