Thursday, 26 February 2015


Back ASAP (Cough! Cough!)

In the meantime you can find me on Twitter and Facebook saying nice things about Antena 3's Bajo Sospecha or less nice things about ITV's new "Commissaire Mehgret".

Monday, 9 February 2015


Michel Loisée, a unionist at the Deboucke spinning mill of Armentières, is killed in an apparent accident. The rich Émile Deboucke, owner of the factory, wants to marry reporter Alice Avril

Josiane Lallin, a colleague of Loisée, insists on seeing Commissaire Laurence but she talks to his secretary Marlène instead. Avril can't stand the misogyny of her boss anymore. Laurence prides himself of being now reachable everywhere thanks to his new U.S. army field telephone.

« Fratricide. "Fratrie" pour frère et "cide" pour meurtre. Tenez si je tuais Avril, par exemple.
- Oh!
- C'est un exemple. Ce serait un "avrilicide". »

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("The little murders of Agatha Christie") is a French adaptation of novelist Agatha Christie's stories as a period crime comedy-drama 90-minute series with a trio of local sleuths instead of her detectives: Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe, of the Comédie-Française), Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) and Marlène (Élodie Frenck). They returned last week on Swiss channel RTS Deux, ahead of  French pubcaster France 2, in Un meurtre est-il facile? This brand new episode is adapted from the novel Murder is Easy by scriptwriter, director and actor Jean-Luc Gaget (Highly Strung). It is directed by Marc Angelo.

« Marlène, appelez-moi Le Louvre et vérifiez si Émile Deboucke leur a bien prêté un des couteaux de sa collection .
- Le Louvre de... de Paris?
- Non de Tourcoing. »

Jean-Luc Gaget returns at his best after his adaptation of Hallowe'en Party, the excellent Meurtre à la kermesse, last year. Un meurtre est-il facile? has some audiardesque lines (« Je vais m'occuper de son cas au petit Castor. ») and a deliciously anachronistic running gag about Laurence's "mobile" phone. Gaget's great characterization is served by a talented guest cast, like the extraordinary Philippe Nahon (I stand alone) as Émile Deboucke (« Rendez-vous au stock? On dirait un album de Tintin votre histoire. »), Anne Benoît as Marlène's cousin Annick, or Alexandre Steiger as the overambitious Jean Castor (« Mon directeur d'études m'a dit: Jean, de grandes choses vous attendent. Il avait raison, sauf pour une chose... J'vais pas les attendre. »)

Two women literally drop dead. Laurence's sports car, his magnificent Facel-Vega Facellia, attracts the interest of a protagonist and is involved in a chase with a big Jaguar. Alice enjoys the life of Riley. Marlène resigns and visits a cell of the police station. A dialogue between Deboucke and his intriguing butler, Baptiste (Pierre Kiebbe), gives a hint of more attention on the commissaire's past in future episodes. Last but not least, we learn Marlène's surname.

Emilie Wiest (Sabine Toulemonde) and Marcelle Fontaine (Josiane Lallin) are also in the guest cast. Dominique Thomas and François Godart return, respectively as Commissaire divisionnaire Tricard and Alice's editor-in-chief Robert Jourdeuil. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films with Pictanovo, Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse

The characters of Laurence and Avril were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha

« J'ai appelé à Tourcoing et il n'y a pas de Louvre à Tourcoing. En tout cas à la mairie ils ne sont pas au courant.
- Mais enfin Marlène, Le Louvre c'est à Paris.
- C'est exactement ce qu'ils m'ont dit. » 

Thursday, 5 February 2015


The Midsomer Oaks pub landlady is crushed to death by a giant Perspex box during a magic show by a famous illusionist. 

DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee) investigate. They uncover a conflict between the village church and local ancient pagan traditions.

Series 17 of Midsomer Murders started on January 28, 2015 with a rather tedious episode called The Dagger Club. Aired yesterday on ITV, Murder by Magic is penned by Rachel Cuperman and Sally Griffiths and directed by Charles Palmer (Death in Paradise, Doctor Who). Fiona Dolman and Tamzin Malleson play respectively Sarah Barnaby and pathologist Dr Kate Wilding. Joe Absolom (Doc Martin), Amanda Burton (Waterloo Road, Silent Witness), Stephanie Leonidas (Defiance), Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval), Jack Shepherd (Wycliffe) are amongst the guest stars.

Scribe duo Cuperman and Griffiths was behind Death and the Divas, the splendid 2013 "Hammer" episode, and they managed to bring back a bit of the spirit of their instant classic in their latest contribution for Midsomer Murders. A church fundraiser by David Blaine type magician Gideon Latimer turns nasty. Hooded and masked members of a pagan cult practice ritual sacrifices (or do they?) A fanatical clergyman makes a deadly encounter with a dagger. A bullet goes facetious and someone ends up in a sort of Wicker Man remake on a budget. There's also a cool nod to Death and the Divas. 

With its assets and a sumptuous guest cast, Murder by Magic is an improvement over last week but since the previous series Midsomer Murders shows signs of fatigue in many respects (the main actors seem on autopilot). Its spark is on a Saint Marie beach because Death in Paradise does Midsomer better these days. This 17th series is exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Phil Hunter. Midsomer Murders is produced by Bentley Productions Ltd, an All3Media company, for ITV. The music is composed by Jim Parker (House of Cards).

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