Friday, 24 February 2012


The 3 X 60-minute second series of Kidnap and Ransom started yesterday night. Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead) stars as international hostage negociator Dominic King in this ITV1 drama thriller from his prodco Projector Pictures and created by Patrick Harbinson (24, Law and Order, ER).

Written by Harbinson and directed by Andy Wilson, the first three-part series (aired in January 2011) was a very effective, well-researched and riveting TV equivalent of a good Frederick Forsyth novel. Eve played brilliantly a top professional facing doubts in his job and his personal life, and confronting the most dangerous adversary, the intelligent and invisible Alexander Willard (John Hannah at his best).

« Thank you for doing this.
- Don't thank me, thank the insurance company. »

Series two opens with Dominic King on a lake dumping what could be a body. Flashback two weeks earlier, King is in Srinagar (in Indian Kashmir) for the release of a British Asian family. But police arrives during the handover, the kidnappers board a tourist bus and take the passengers hostage. Dominic tries to negociate their freedom while his business partner Angela Beddoes (Helen Baxendale) must defend his position against the Foreign Secretary (Owen Teale) and Dominic's ex-wife and senior FO civil servant Sophie (Natasha Little). The identity of one of the Brit passengers could cause extra problems and the local officer in charge is rapidly joined by the special forces of the National Security Guard.

The biggest mystery of this premiere is why the drama is sponsored by Aviva and not by a mobile phone company. Trevor Eve seems like he's delivering a considerable amount of his lines to a cell phone in this fast-paced new installment written by Michael Crompton (Silent Witness). Very regrettably, Kidnap and Ransom wins in action what it loses in complexity and originality. The South African location doubles amazingly as Kashmir although with a side effect: Kidnap tends to resemble Strike Back: Project Dawn, also filmed there, minus the antics of Scott and Stonebridge. South African actor David Dennis, who plays Hiresh Mehta, was also in Strike Back.

For now this new series of Kidnap and Ransom looks like a rehash of previous on-screen hostage situations with their clichés, and Dom King as the Steve McGarrett of expert negociators (« I know you wanna go and shoot them because it's how you do things in Kashmir. ») Let's hope for the sake of our interest that the "body bag" contains his ex-wife, his associate, or - better - the Foreign Secretary. The cinematography by Mike Spragg and the score by Philip Miller (with a theme by Christian Henson) are superb.

Series 2 of Kidnap and Ransom is directed by David Drury (Ashes to Ashes) and produced by Trevor Hopkins (Strike Back: Project Dawn). Trevor Eve and Rachel Gesua are executive producers.

Monday, 13 February 2012


Aired in Germany on Sat.1, hit crime drama Der letzte Bulle (The Last Cop) arrives in France next month on DTT channel Direct 8 as Mick Brisgau.

« Ich, ich glaub' das zu träumen
die Mauer Im Rücken war kalt. » (David Bowie)

Essen Kripo cop Michael "Mick" Brisgau (Henning Baum) awakes from a 20-year coma in a world which has changed drastically. Darling of the media as "Der Koma-Bulle", Mick gets his job back but he's under safety observation by police psychologist Tanja Haffner (Proschat Madani). This epitome of the 80s macho supercop must adjust his methods to modern policing. His boss is his former partner Martin Ferchert (Helmfried von Lüttichau) and he has to get along with his young and politically correct new partner, Andreas Kringge (Maximilian Grill).

Brisgau's wife Lisa (Floriane Daniel), who waited him during five years, lives with pathologist Roland Meisner (Robert Lohr) and his baby daughter Isabelle (Luise Risch) is now a young woman. Mick Brisgau is a stranger in a strange land where every day has its share of discoveries: GPS, car central locking, cell phones, DNA analysis, etc. Aired since April 2010 on private channel Sat.1, Der letzte Bulle was created by Stefan Scheich and Robert Dannenberg on two central ideas: what a man from the 80s would think of us and our society. And a "true hero" character with definite principles like loyalty, straightforwardness, and a high sense of justice (1).

Before being shot in the head, Brisgau was Essen's answer to Don Johnson (there's a nice scene where a nurse must explain what is Miami Vice to a younger colleague). A Horst Schimanski kind of cop, who wears cowboy boots and
drives a green 70s Opel Diplomat B - starting with the third episode. He still smokes in interrogation rooms much to the irritation of his partner, who learns to work with "Dirty Harry". In 2011, the show's star Henning Baum received the Bayerische Fernsehpreis of the best actor in a series. Head writers Stefan Scheich and Robert Dannenberg were awarded too.

Der letzte Bulle, whose third series started last week in Germany, is an enjoyable drama with a solid cast, pleasant stories, likeable characters, good dialogues, and a great soundtrack with standards of the 80s (Queen, Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins...) The title song is Real Wild Child by Iggy Pop. The Last Cop, which arrives in France on March 5th, is produced by ITV Studios Germany - formerly Granada Produktion - with Greensky Films for Sat.1. It is distributed by SevenOne International.


[Update - March 5th] Announced for today at 5.40pm but now it's for March 19th at 3.30pm! ( (Direct 8 trailer) (Intro)

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Midsomer Murders - Series 15, Episode 1 (The Dark Rider). A headless horseman pointing victims to their doom brings terror to Quitewell Hall, home of the aristocratic DeQuetteville family. But nothing will prevent its occupants from staging a money-making Civil War battle reenactment, much to the annoyance of their wealthy neighbours. Barnaby and Jones investigate the secrets of the ancestral family house while John's wife, Sarah, must bring some historical authenticity to the reenactment.

« Well, good luck with the local... locals. »

Since 1997 the rich and eccentric denizens of the fictional Midsomer County experiment in rotation the most horrid ways to be murdered without any complaint of the UN security council. But the formula of Midsomer Murders amazingly survived the departure of its original star (John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby). It even survived a so-called controversy after uninspired words of its longtime producer Brian True-May (1), now replaced for this fifteenth series which started yesterday night on ITV1.

« Witness said the horse rider had no head.
- Drunk or stoned?
- I was on duty, sir. »

Introduced during series 13 alongside his cousin Tom, and in charge of Midsomer's bodycount registry since the following series, DCI John Barnaby (played by the excellent Neil Dudgeon) is back with DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes). A member of the DeQuetteville family falls from the roof of Quitewell Hall, which starts a string of dramatic events. Could the chief suspect be the headless ghost of Cavalier officer Geoffrey DeQuetteville on a grey horse? Written by Michael Aitkens, who handled the transition between the first DCI Barnaby and his successor, The Dark Rider opens series 15 with everything a Midsomer fan can desire: murder extravaganza, dark family secrets, a superb stately home (actually Knebworth House in Hertfordshire), and a good dose of tongue-in-cheek humour.

James Callis, of Battlestar Galactica fame, guest stars as twin brothers Toby and Julian DeQuetteville (!) Eleanor Bron plays Lady Isobel DeQuetteville, the local Violet Crawley (« Lady Isobel would you mind sitting down and shutting up, just for once? ») William Gaunt (No Place Like Home, The Champions) is Isobel's husband Sir Ludo DeQuetteville. Raquel Cassidy, Kerry Fox, Natalie Mendoza, and Paul Ritter are also amongst the cast. Fans of Torchwood will recognize Murray Melvin (Bilis Manger in the first series) as Bentham DeQuetteville, the unfortunate brother of Ludo, who has the equally unfortunate idea of fixing a banner in the middle of the night.

« We are in a much smaller community now. We're bound to overlap sometimes. Live with it and please don't involve the dog. »

The Civil War battle reenactment, filmed with four cameras, was made with the help of historical event organisers The Sealed Knot and 200 of their members used as extras. Sarah Barnaby (Fiona Dolman) is the commentator but gets angry when the event's historical accuracy turns into a scene of the 1967 Casino Royale. In the midst of the chaos, one of the characters is lured outside the hall and killed by a gargoyle which conveniently falls on the head of the victim. Directed by Alex Pillai, this series opener is produced for the first time by Jo Wright, former drama chief at the BBC, London Weekend Television and Talkback Thames. Her numerous credits include Lovejoy, 55 Degrees North, the Doctor Who 1996 TV movie, or Othello.

Midsomer Murders is made by Bentley Productions, part of the All3Media Group, for ITV1. 6.1 million viewers (average including HD & +1) watched The Dark Rider. Some Midsomer County residents will obviously live to die another day.

« That is a sense of community, Jones. One goes mad, they all go mad. It's a wonderful little world out here. »


Wednesday, 1 February 2012