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.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


A wonderfully interesting interview with author, publisher, scriptwriter and TV producer Lee Goldberg for a podcast episode of Writer's Bone

Lee Goldberg's television work includes two of my favourite mystery dramas: Diagnosis: Murder and A Nero Wolfe Mystery. He also worked on shows like Martial Law, SeaQuest, Murphy's Law, etc.

Monday, 3 April 2017


This little blog is still around in spite of difficulties (sigh). Last month we had Inspector Montalbano, Capitaine Marleau and Witnesses. Never give up, etc.

- Inspector Montalbano: Come voleva la prassi (RAI 1):

- Capitaine Marleau (France 3):

(La Nuit de la Lune Rousse

- Witnesses (Les Témoins) - Series 2, Episodes 1 & 2 (France 2):


- Capitaine Marleau (Ratings):

By the way, Series 19 of Midsomer Murders started yesterday in France. You can find our reviews here: 

Monday, 27 March 2017


[Spoiler-Free] Amateur skydiver Alexandrine dies because of the sabotage of her parachute. Capitaine Marleau pitches her tent on an airfield to investigate amongst the members of the skydiving association Les Grandes Ailes.

Her main suspects are Carlos Dos Santos, instructor (and secret lover) of the young woman, Carlos's wife Clémence and Clara De Combelle... who's none other than Clémence's twin sister.

« Ecoutez j'suis pas Noam Chomsky d'accord mais des fois j'ai des éclairs d'intelligence. »

Starring the extraordinary Corinne Masiero in the title role, French crime drama Capitaine Marleau returned last tuesday on pubcaster France 3 with En trompe l'oeil. The brilliantly chabrolesque fifth episode, guest starring Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) and Aure Atika (The Night Manager), caught 6.196.000 viewers (26.1%!) Tomorrow the channel will air the equally brilliant La Nuit de la Lune Rousse and on April 4 it will show À ciel ouvert, the third (and final) episode of this new batch. Swiss television aired those episodes ahead of French TV. À ciel ouvert is helmed by Capitaine Marleau director/producer Josée Dayan and written by Sonia Moyersoen (1).

Although the episode takes off slowly (no pun intended) and cannot reach the brilliance of its predecessors, it's enjoyable and pleasantly evokes Columbo, an acknowledged influence on the creative forces behind Marleau (« On joue à Columbo-les-Deux-Églises. ») The twin sisters Clémence and Clara, both played by Géraldine Pailhas, remind of the twins of Double Shock and Capitaine Marleau's plane scene with Carlos Dos Santos is like an hilarious version of Columbo's flight with Leslie Williams in Ransom for a Dead Man.

« On ne peut pas avoir le meurtre et l'argent du meurtre, hein madame? »

Marleau does a bit of social commentary, quotes singers Alain Bashung or François Valéry  and can't remember the name of the dog Barbare: she calls him Babar, Colargol and Scoubidou. There's a nice nod to French singer and actress Dani, one of the guest stars of this episode. The good surprise of À ciel ouvert is Julie Depardieu, who plays the improbable Brigadier Jeannette Poupeaux, Marleau's sidekick on the case. Her father Gérard Depardieu was the special guest star of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir (2015), the series pilot.

Belgian actor and French television legend Jean-Claude Drouot returns as the Falstaffian pathologist Leopold Salaun. Also with Charles Berling (Carlos), Jacques Spiesser (France 3's Commissaire Magellan) as Thibault Le Preux and Mark Grosy (Ismael Diallo). Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films, with the participation of RTS and France Télévisions. Music by Catherine Lara. Filmed between November and December 2016, mostly in Région Île-de-France. Created by Elsa Marpeau.

(1) Who is also the directrice de collection of Capitaine Marleau.

This review will be revised ASAP. (Interview with Sonia Moyersoen)

See also: (La Nuit de la Lune Rousse)
(En trompe l'oeil

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


And here we go for another post about Capitaine Marleau. But judging from the stats of our little blog yesterday (and today actually) no one will complain.  

France 3's crime drama is a favourite here since even before the French pubcaster aired the pilot. So we cannot resist to celebrate.

Capitaine Marleau returned yesterday on France 3 with En trompe l'oeil, guest starring Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) and Aure Atika (The Night Manager). The brilliant fifth episode of the crime drama created by Elsa Marpeau and helmed by Josée Dayan was watched by 6.196.000 viewers (26.1%). It's another record for the series and it's the best ratings of the year for the channel so far.

Last september, Brouillard en Thalasso, the fourth episode, hit a rating record with 4.608.000 viewers (20%). The same month, a repeat of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the pilot, caught 4.533.000 viewers (19.6%), more than for its first transmission in September 2015 (3.731.000 viewers/15.3%). Too bad Capitaine Marleau (no first name) is not candidate for the French presidential election because she would probably be elected.

Next week France 3 will air La Nuit de la Lune Rousse. You can find a review of this episode here:

See also:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


[Spoiler-Free] 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.

Two years after the first series of Les Témoins, police detective Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier) and her colleague Justin (Jan Hammenecker) are back for another conundrum written by Hervé Hadmar (who also directs) and Marc Herpoux, the duo behind Signature, Pigalle, la nuit and Les Oubliées. Thierry Lhermitte, who brilliantly escaped the antics of the French Doc Martin with his role as the enigmatic Paul Maisonneuve in the first series, doesn't return. This year, Audrey Fleurot (A French Village, Spiral) co-stars alongside Marie Dompnier as the even more mysterious Catherine Keemer.

« Les enfants, aux yeux des folles mères,
Vont se briser la tête sur les pierres. »

Catherine, the common denominator between the 15 frozen victims in the bus, suddenly resurfaces in her car after three years. Totally amnesiac, she's found in the street asking "Il est où?" The case shares similarities with troubling events years ago. A furnished studio flat, a poem by Auguste Barbier (1805-1882), a woman in a psychiatric hospital since 1979, and a place called "La Colline du Diable" are amongst the first pieces of this promising jigsaw puzzle. Sandra Winckler has a problem with her elder daughter and she chooses to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Catherine Keemer has a child related issue of another kind. Like the tagline of this new series says: "Love is the greatest danger".

Aired between March and April 2015 on French pubcaster France 2, the first series of Les Témoins (6 X 52-minute) caught an average of 4.3m viewers. The creation of Hervé Hadmar and Marc Herpoux also raised a huge interest abroad with sales in several territories like Germany, Belgium, Norway, Australia, Poland or the United Kingdom, where Channel 4 aired it as Witnesses. France 2 commissioned a 8-episode second series. In between, Hadmar and Herpoux did the miniseries Beyond the Walls (Au-delà des murs) for Arte. Filming of Witnesses 2 took place between March and August 2016 during 96 days in northern France, mostly in the Hauts-de-France region. 

Marie Dompnier, who worked mainly on stage before Les Témoins and won a Golden Fipa award for the role of Sandra Winckler, expands her character with an infinite subtlety. Audrey Fleurot is (of course) excellent and the talented Belgian actor Jan Hammenecker gets more presence as the likeable Justin, a role he first played in Signature. Justin is joined by his teenage son, who lived with his mother in La Réunion. He celebrates Christmas in March and has a funny scene with a fridge. Florence Bolufer returns as Mélanie.

Judith Henry replaces Catherine Mouchet as Sandra and Justin's boss Maxine Dubreuil. Éric Winckler is now played Guillaume Durieux (instead of Mehdi Nebbou). Also starring Steve Driesen as Olivier Keemer, Yannick Choirat (Geir Jansen), Anne Benoît (Christiane Varène), Dominique Bettenfeld (Martin Souriau), Séverine Vincent (Audrey Solange), Alexandre Carrière (Fred), British-Canadian actor Philip Desmeules as Antoine Barrier, Nina Simonpoli-Barthelemy (Chloé Winckler), Héloïse Dugas (Louise Keemer), Lila Gueneau Lefas (Léa Keemer), etc.

The writers definitely know ho to build an effective and gripping mystery. Hervé Hadmar's always stylish direction is impressively atmospheric. The locations are incredible. There's a little (clever) change at the end of the title sequence, still accompanied by Tricky's We don't die (2013). Witnesses is produced by Cinétévé with France Télévisions and Pictanovo (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie), with the support of Région Hauts-de-France and the participation of SBS-TV Australia.

Fabienne Servan-Schreiber and Jean-Pierre Fayer are the producers. Jean-Marc Abbou is the production manager. Music composed by Éric Demarsan. Jean-Max Bernard is the cinematographer. Distributed by Newen Distribution (Spiral). The first couple of episodes of Les Témoins 2 caught an average of 3.4m viewers (14.2%). Koba Films will release the 3-disc DVD of this second series next month. 

See also: (Series 1 - DVD Review)


[Spoiler-Free] A nightly intrusion against the construction of a golf course near an animal park ends up with the death of one of the protesters, but also of a security guard. Capitaine Marleau, of the Gendarmerie, investigates.

Jeanne Dewaere, the park manager, tries to help her young protégé Manon Bechet, involved in the tragic events. Things get complicated when the businessman behind the golf project is found dead in a rather embarrassing posture.

« Miroir, mon beau miroir. Quelle est la plus moche de toute la gendarmerie? » 

The hugely popular French crime drama Capitaine Marleau returns next tuesday on pubcaster France 3 with the brilliant fifth episode En trompe l'oeil, aired six months ago by RTS Un. Yesterday, the Swiss channel aired La Nuit de la Lune Rousse, the equally brilliant sixth Marleau, directed by Josée Dayan and written by actress, scriptwriter and novelist Sylvie Granotier with novelist/scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau (who's also the series creator) The amazing Corinne Masiero, revealed by Louise Wimmer in 2012, is magnificent as Capitaine Marleau (no first-name). With Dayan, Marpeau, producer Gaspard de Chavagnac and excellent writers, she has built France's equivalent of Columbo.

« Les couples en fusion c'est comme le jazz fusion. Ca me fait chier. »

After the chabrolesque En trompe l'oeil with Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) in the Île-de-France region, the colourful and shrewd Marleau is in the beautiful Alsace again (« Moi j'aime bien l'Alsace, c'est pour ça que je reviens souvent. ») amongst old friends. Aymeric Demarigny plays Brigadier Brière for the third time, after Les mystères de la foi and Brouillard en Thalasso. Marius Colucci (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie) is back as Oscar Langevin, the sympathetic pathologist and latinist of Le domaine des soeurs Meyer. Oscar teams up with Leopold Salaun, the Falstaffian pathologist of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir (the series pilot) played by Belgian actor and French television legend Jean-Claude Drouot.

« Les liaisons dangereuses, ça entretient la passion. Comme disait Malkovich... ou Werther, je ne sais plus. »

Marleau delivers those great lines which contribute to her popularity, sing some Chantal Goya, crosses paths with G.I.G.N. and does her usual social commentary: there are references to Samsonite, Goodyear, Edward Snowden and high-risk loans. Sandrine Bonnaire guest stars as Jeanne Dewaere (hence a « Vous avez un petit côté débonnaire, vous. On vous l'a déjà dit? » ), a good-hearted woman who hides her past. The rest of the splendid cast includes Manuel Blanc (Alain Peras), Alain Fromager (Michel Chalard), Vincent Primault (Gabriel), Louison Bergman (Manon Bechet), Céline Samie of the Comédie-Française  (Emilie Guingand), etc.

Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Filmed between October and November 2016 in Alsace. The animal park is actually the parc animalier of Sainte-Croix. Produced with the support of Strasbourg Eurométropole and Région Grand-Est. In September 2016, the fourth episode of Capitaine Marleau caught 4.608.000 viewers (20%). One week later, a repeat of the pilot caught 4.533.000 viewers (19.6%).

See also:
(En trompe l'oeil)

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


[Spoiler-Free] Il commissario Montalbano, the Italian detective drama launched in 1999 and starring Luca Zingaretti as the character created by author Andrea Camilleri, returned last monday on RAI 1 for a new series of two feature-length episodes.
Written by Francesco Bruni, Andrea Camilleri and Salvatore De Mola, Come voleva la prassi is based on the homonymous story from the collection Morte in mare aperto ed altre indagini del giovane Montalbano, but also on La revisione (from the collection Gli arancini di Montalbano) and Quello che contò Aulo Gellio (from the collection Un mese con Montalbano). Salvo Montalbano and Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzotta) investigate the murder of a young prostitute who died after an atrocious agony.

Perfectly directed by Alberto Sironi, this excellent episode is darker than last week's Un covo di vipere. Journalist Nicolò Zito, played by Roberto Nobile, and Salvo's Swedish friend Ingrid (Isabell Sollman) return. Montalbano meets a retired judge named Leonardo Attard (1) and goes to the discotheque. There's a strange hold-up in a small restaurant, Catarella (Angelo Russo) doesn't speak French, a powerful character likes Eyes Wide Shut too much, and the Cuffaro mafia family is back.

The rest of the cast includes Cesare Bocci (Mimì Augello), Nuccio Vassalo (Leonardo Attard), Giulio Corso (Davide Guarnotta), Marcello Perracchio (Dr. Pasquano), Lana Vlady (Maria Simonova), Viktoriya Pisotska (Olga), Sofia Pulvirenti (Graziella Persico), Mariella Lo Sardo (Prudenza), Massimo Spata (Micheletto), Giuseppe Schillaci (Salvatore Niscemi), Matteo Tanto (Milko Stanic), and Sonia Bergamasco as Livia. Inspector Montalbano is produced by Palomar and RAI Fiction.

Produced by Carlo Degli Esposti, founder and president of Palomar, and Nora Barbieri with Max Gusberti. Marco Camilli is the producer for Palomar and Erica Pellegrini produces for RAI. Music composed and conducted by Franco Piersanti. Songs by Olivia Sellerio. Franco Lecca is the cinematographer. Distributed by Rai Com. Il commissario Montalbano is aired in the UK by BBC Four as Inspector Montalbano and in France on France 3 as Commissaire Montalbano.

Yesterday, Come voleva la prassi has reached an historic high with 11.268.000 viewers (44.1%). Last week, Un cove di vipere caught 10.674.000 spettatori (40.8%).

(1) No relation... (The blog of Carlo Degli Esposti)

Last year's episodes:

Thursday, 2 March 2017


This little blog is still around (in spite of difficulties) and last month we had Montalbano, Maigret, Death in Paradise and the other Professor T. (no, not that one...) Even a delayed DVD review two delayed DVD reviews (The Time in Between, Palm trees in the snow), which managed to surface at last! 

Be assured that the other delayed DVD/Book reviews will follow. Palm trees in the snow is almost finished, by the way. Never give up, etc.

- Inspector Montalbano: Un covo di vipere (RAI 1):

- Palm trees in the snow (French Region 2 DVD):

- Death in Paradise - Series 6, Episodes 5 & 6 (BBC One):

- The Time in Between/ El Tiempo entre Costuras (French Region 2 DVD):


- Maigret (French ratings):

- Death in Paradise (Toldja!):

- Palm trees in the snow/Black Forest Clinic (French Region 2 DVD):


- Professor T. (ZDF):

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


[Spoiler-Free] Il commissario Montalbano, the Italian detective drama launched in 1999 and starring Luca Zingaretti as the character created by author Andrea Camilleri, returned yesterday on RAI 1 for a new series of two 120-minute episodes.

Un covo di vipere was adapted by Francesco Bruni, Andrea Camilleri, Salvatore De Mola and Leonardo Marini, from the novel A Nest of Vipers (Un covo di vipere, 2013). Montalbano and Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzotta) investigate the murder of sixtysomething entrepreneur Cosimo Barletta, shot dead in his house by the sea. Salvo finds out that the victim was a very despicable man and that his death is more complicated than it looks.

An utterly brilliant episode directed by Montalbano regular helmer Alberto Sironi. Thankfully, Sonia Bergamasco returns as Livia. Mimì Augello, portrayed by Cesare Bocci, has a very peculiar assignment right up his street. The beloved Agatino Catarella (Angelo Russo) is back and he's very... Catarella. The scenes with Dr. Pasquano (Marcello Perracchio) are great. Alessandro Haber delivers a touching performance as Camastra. Un covo di vipere, introduced as usual by Andrea Camilleri himself, has everything that makes Il commissario Montalbano so special to its fans.

The rest of the cast includes Valentina Lodovini (Giovanna Pusateri), Alice Canzonieri (Stella Lasorella), Marcello Mazzarella (Cosimo Barletta), Beatrice Arnera (Alina Camera), Giacinto Ferro (Bonetti Alderighi), Giovanni Visentin (Tommaseo), Ottavio Amato (Santo Fallace), Silvio Laviano (Arturo Barletta), Vera Dragone (Stefania) and Valeria Panepinto (Michela Lolo). Inspector Montalbano is produced by Palomar and RAI Fiction.

Produced by Carlo Degli Esposti, founder and president of Palomar, and Nora Barbieri with Max Gusberti. Marco Camilli is the producer for Palomar and Erica Pellegrini produces for RAI. Music composed and conducted by Franco Piersanti. Songs by Olivia Sellerio. Franco Lecca is the cinematographer. Distributed by Rai Com. Il commissario Montalbano is aired in the UK by BBC Four as Inspector Montalbano and in France on France 3 as Commissaire Montalbano.

Next week: Come voleva la prassi. (The blog of Carlo Degli Esposti)

[Update - March 8] (Spoiler-Free review of Come voleva la prassi)

Last year's episodes:

Monday, 27 February 2017


Palm trees in the Snow (Palmeras en la nieve) is a 2015 Spanish film directed by Fernando González Molina and based on the homonymous novel by Luz Gabás.

This powerful romantic period drama, starring Mario Casas and Adriana Ugarte (The Time in Between), is available on French Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray from Koba Films since February 1.

1954. Kilian de Rabaltué (Mario Casas) and Jacobo de Rabaltué (Alain Hernández), two brothers, leave their home in the snowy mountains of Huesca, in northern Spain. They must join their father Anton (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba) on the island of Fernando Póo, a Spanish colony (presently Bioko in Equatorial Guinea), in order to work with him on a cocoa plantation. Half a century later in Huesca, Kilian's niece Clarence (Adriana Ugarte) discovers a fragment of an old letter which shows that her aged and declining uncle has been secretly sending money to a family in the island. She decides to travel to the former Spanish Guinea to learn more. 

Published in 2012, Palm trees in the Snow (Palmeras en la nieve) is the first novel of Luz Gabás. The following year, Warner Bros. España announced a movie adaption of the bestseller by director Fernando González Molina and scriptwriter Sergio G. Sánchez, with Mario Casas in the starring role. Molina and Casas previously worked together on Three Steps Above Heaven (Tres metros sobre el cielo, 2010) and its sequel I Want You (Tengo ganas de ti, 2012) (1), the first Hot School (Fuga de cerebros, 2009), and on TV series El Barco (2011-2013) and Los hombres de Paco (2005-2010). 

Sergio G. Sánchez penned The Impossible (Lo imposible, 2012) and The Orphanage (El orfanato, 2007). Set against the mostly unknown backdrop of Spain's colonial history, Palmeras en la nieve alternates between the younger Killian's love story with young black nurse Bisila (Berta Vázquez) and the journey of his niece Clarence into the secrets of her family. Noted for her TV work with The Time in Between (El Tiempo entre Costuras, 2013-2014), Stolen Children (Niños robados, 2013) and The Lady (La Señora, 2008-2010), but also films like Lo contrario al amor (2011), Adriana Ugarte shines as Clarence de Rabaltué. Last year she starred in Pedro Almodóvar's Julieta

Palm trees in the Snow was shot during 13 weeks from 2014 to 2015 in the Canary IslandsColombia, and Huesca. 70 actors, more than 2.200 extras and 250 technicians worked on this €10.000.000 epic production from Nostromo Pictures with Dynamo Producciones, Atresmedia Cine, Telefónica Studios and Warner Bros. España. The rest of the cast includes Macarena Garcia (Julia), French actor Djedje Apali (Young and Beautiful) as Iniko, Daniel Grao (Sin Identidad) as Manuel, Fernando Cayo (Garuz), Celso Bugallo (Older Kilian), Petra Martinez (Older Julia), Luis Callejo (El Barco) as Gregorio, etc. The music was composed by Lucas Vidal.

Distributed by Film Factory Entertainment and released for Christmas 2015 in Spain, Palmeras en la nieve rightfully conquered the local box office (2). In France, the film arrived last year on Netflix. The DVD from Koba contains the 163-minute film in French and Spanish, subtitled or not, plus bonus material (a presentation and an interview with director Fernando González Molina). Three Steps Above Heaven and I Want You are also available on French Region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray from Koba Films.

(1) Based on Italian author Federico Moccia's novels Tre metri sopra il cielo (2004) and Ho voglia di te (2006).
(2) +

Monday, 20 February 2017


The new Maigret TV adaptation, starring Rowan Atkinson as the pipe-smoking policeman created by Georges Simenon, premiered yesterday on French pubcaster France 3.
Unsurprisingly, Maigret Sets A Trap caught 3.393.000 viewers (13.3 %) and ranked #2 against TF1.

Our (unenthusiastic) words about Maigret Sets A Trap and Maigret's Dead Man:

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


DI Humphrey Goodman and the team find a man murdered on his boat five miles out at sea. The only clue leads to four suspects from London who quickly return to the British capital.  

Commissioner Patterson sends Humphrey, Florence and Dwayne to work on the case in London with DI Jack Mooney of the Metropolitan Police.
The bottom line: Here's the computer, said Florence.

It took five episodes of Death in Paradise (including last year's finale) to prepare the departure of Kris Marshall/DI Goodman and his replacement in this London two-parter. This is certainly an improvement over the inelegant ice pick exit of Ben Miller's DI Richard Poole, his predecessor. Too bad all this is at the expense of most of the current series, stucked until now into the annoying romance of Humphrey and Martha (Sally Bretton). The only purpose of this storyline (and consequently of the two-part episode) became obvious right from the second episode.

Then, ahead of the official confirmation that Kris Marshall was leaving, the trick was to spot the presence of Irish comedian/actor Ardal O'Hanlon (Father Ted) as DI Jack Mooney in the guest cast of the fifth episode. The laboured first half of the London story is saved by his introduction and the excellent Danny John-Jules (Dwayne). Except  for him and the the always enthusiastic J.P. (Tobi Bakare), the rest of the regular characters look like they seriously need a permanent new posting off screen. 

The second part of this double episode is better, particularly for a scene between Humphrey Goodman and Jack Mooney (« Be my guest. ») and an appropriate nod to Love Actually. Ardal O'Hanlon does a very good job for his arrival. Anyway, the feel-good detective drama has a worldwide audience so there's no doubt that the new Detective Inspector has been choosen very carefully.  Although the character reminds of his predecessors, Jack is a recent widower and has a daughter in her 20s named Siobhan (Grace Stone). Next time, we'll see how he manages in Saint Marie.

See also:

Monday, 13 February 2017


Based on the best-seller by María Dueñas, the lavish Spanish period drama The Time in Between (El Tiempo entre Costuras, 2013-2014) is available since last autumn on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films under the title L'espionne de Tanger.

El Tiempo entre Costuras is set in Spain, Morocco and Portugal, from the 1930s to the 1940s. It stars Adriana Ugarte as Sira Quiroga, a young Spanish seamstress drawn into the world of espionage and political intrigue before World War II.

 « A typewriter shattered my destiny. » (María Dueñas, The Time in Between)

Published in June 2009, El Tiempo entre Costuras is the first novel of María Dueñas, a professor at the University of Murcia. The book sold millions of copies around the world in more than 25 languages (1). Spanish private channel Antena 3 bought the rights in 2010 with the ambition to turn the literary phenomenon into a television sensation. Three scriptwriters (Susana López Rubio, Alberto Grondona, Carlos Montero) and three directors (Iñaki Mercero, Iñaki Peñafiel, Norberto López Amado) worked on the 11 x 80-minute adaptation, produced by Boomerang TV (Los misterios de Laura).

The Time in Between was filmed from summer 2011 to January 2012 in 100 locations and over 254 sets between the three countries where the novel takes place: Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Guadalajara), Morocco (Tangiers and Tétouan) and Portugal (Lisbon, Cascais and Estoril). 135 actors and more than 2.500 extras worked on the series, whose budget was estimated in over 500.000 euros per episode. The productions of the BBC and HBO were the references of executive producers Emilio A. Pina and Reyes Baltanás.

 « My  name  is  Sira  Quiroga  and I’m  a  seamstress.  I  never  imagined  my  fate  would be to run across town in a foreign country  with  a  suit  of  guns  on  my  skin. »

Madrid, 1934. Sira Quiroga, a seamstress in her twenties, works with her single mother Dolores in a sewing workshop. Sira is engaged to Ignacio, a modest civil servant, but she falls madly in love with typewrite salesman Ramiro Arribas, much to her mother's disapproval. As Spain goes through troubled times, Gonzalo Alvarado, Sira's estranged father, wants to meet his daughter in order to give her money and jewels. Ramiro persuades Sira to use this fortune to open a business in the Tangier International Zone of the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. They leave months before the Spanish coup of July 1936 and live a life of luxury until Sira, who got pregnant, is abandoned by her lover.

Penniless and indebted, the young woman loses her baby on her way to Tétouan. There, a comprehensive police commissioner gives her time to pay the debts which prevent her return to Spain and finds her a shelter at the guesthouse of Candelaria "La Matutera". The search for a passport leads Sira Quiroga into a perilous situation but the money she gets allows her to establish a haute couture dress shop with "La Matutera". Sira befriends with one of her clients, Rosalinda Fox, mistress of the Protectorate High Commissioner Juan Luis Beigbeder. Thanks to Rosalinda and Marcus Logan, a British reporter, Sira reunites with her mother.

The Spanish Civil War ends in 1939. Rosalinda Fox asks Sira Quiroga to put up a haute couture shop in Madrid and spy on the wives of German officials for British Intelligence in order to prevent the participation of Spain in a conflict between Germany and England. Sira accepts and arrives in the Spanish capital as the mysterious dressmaker Arish Agoriuk. She has to approach Ramon Serrano Suñer, General Franco's brother-in-law, and the ruthless Portuguese businessman Manuel Da Silva. But she also confronted with her past. Adriana Ugarte, noted for her TV work (Stolen Children, The Lady) and films like Lo contrario al amor (2011), wonderfully portrays seamstress/spy Sira Quiroga.

The rest of the outstanding cast includes Raúl Arévalo (Ignacio), Elvira Mínguez (Dolores), Pepa Rus (Paquita), Rubén Cortada (Ramiro Arribas), Carlos Santos (Félix Aranda), Francesc Garrido (Gran Reserva, Los Hombres de Paco) as Claudio Vázquez, English actress Hannah New (Rosalinda), Tristán Ulloa (Beigbeder), Peter Vives (Marcus Logan), established Portuguese actor Filipe Duarte (Manuel Da Silva), American actor Ben Temple (Allan Hillgarth), etc. Fans of El Ministerio del Tiempo will recognize Peter Fox, Rosalinda's husband: it's Los Angeles born actor Jimmy Shaw, who plays Paul Walcott in the Spanish cult sci-fi series. The superb music was composed by César Benito (La Chica de Ayer). Costume designer Bina Daigeler (Volver) was in charge of dressing the characters.

Aired on October 21, 2013, the premiere of The Time in Between was seen by 5.018.000 viewers (25.5%), making it the most watched premiere on Antena 3 in 12 years. The 11 episodes caught an average of 4.910.000 viewers (25.5%). A deserved success for a drama filled with romance, adventure, espionage, suspense, History and splendid locations. In France, El Tiempo entre Costuras arrived last year on Netflix. The 5-disc DVD set from Koba Films contains a 17 x 55-minute version with both the French dubbing and the original Spanish dialogue track, subtitled or not.

(1) Published in English under the titles The Time in Between and The Seamstress.

Saturday, 4 February 2017


Bland, totally unnecessary (and miscast) German remake of the Flemish series. Compared to this adaptation, the unsubtle French version of the format looks charming.

If you don't already know the original please try to have a look at it.
Review ASAP (Maybe...)

About the Flemish series and the French remake:

Thursday, 2 February 2017