Monday, 16 October 2017

ALAIN CARRAZÉ & ROMAIN NIGITA - SERIES' ANATOMY: LE 8e ART DÉCRYPTÉ (FANTASK)

Television series are watched all over the world. They are adored, hated and reviewed. Everybody has an opinion on them, including those who don't watch them... or pretend that they don't. This opinion is often based on perception rather than facts. In France, some circles forget that television is the 8th art and are still prejudiced against television fiction vs cinema (le 7ème art).

French journalists Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita are both acknowledged experts on TV series. In their new book Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté (published by Fantask), they generously share this expertise and their passion to explain with clarity, intelligence, but also a bit of humour, how series are made and shown.

From the conception of a television series to its broadcast or release (on SVOD and DVD), Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté covers the subject in all its aspects: creative and artistic (the showrunner, the writers, the formats, the actors), historical (how Lucille Ball revolutionized the TV industry), geographic (where series are filmed), technical (film or video, HD, special effects, etc...) and economic (financing and budgets, promotion, the US, the UK and French markets). Instructive and absorbing, the impressive work of Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita rely on their tremendous erudition and a long experience of the television business. Their book is astutely structured around 19 clichés/stereotypes arising from the so-called inferiority of TV compared to cinema, or particularly active these days.

Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté reminds that television fiction knows the auteur since Reginald Rose, Paddy Chayefsky and Rod Serling (before he created The Twilight Zone). Film adaptations of series didn't start in 1993 with The Fugitive. Actually, TV characters jump to the big screen since the 1950s. Long before the movie versions of Baywatch (2017) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), The Quatermass Experiment, Dragnet, Doctor Who and many more preceded them. "Franchises" existed in the 1970s and 1980s (The Muppets, Star Trek). Remakes, reboots, and sequels are not a "new trend". There is more than one "Golden Age of TV series". In France subsists a confusion about the distinction between daytime soaps, primetime soaps and sitcoms. And a series doesn't land on a broadcaster by chance.

Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté is punctuated with practical cases in the form of interviews (such as Betsy Beers, Frank Spotnitz or Greg Nicotero), analysis (David Milch, how Baywatch was saved after being cancelled by NBC) and immersions on filmings (The Sopranos, Friends, Game of Thrones, A French village), in a press junket and on the L.A. Screenings. Comprehensive, the book can be read from beginning to end or consulted by chapter. Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté is essential reading for series fans, regular or casual viewers, journalists, academics, or simply people who have questions on this theme. It's one of the most important recent books on television fiction with Les nouveaux feuilletonistes, an anthology of Alain Carrazé's interviews of the greatest series creators, writers, producers, actors and directors (Fantask, 2016).

Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté
by Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita
Fantask
483 pages
EAN :
9782374940083 
25 € 
Cover illustrated by Matt Cunningham

https://www.amazon.fr/Anatomy-8e-art-d%C3%A9crypt%C3%A9/dp/237494008X 
https://livre.fnac.com/a10056905/Alain-Carraze-Series-Anatomy

See also: 

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2016/09/alain-carraze-les-nouveaux.html (Les nouveaux feuilletonistes)

Monday, 9 October 2017

CAPITAINE MARLEAU: LA MÉMOIRE ENFOUIE (FRANCE 3)

[Spoiler-Free review] The corpse of Arthur Gerfaut, a teenager who disappeared six years ago, is found by a group of cyclists near a disused gold mine. His father, Hervé Gerfaut, is in prison for the murder of his wife.

Capitaine Marleau investigates. Gerfaut, who proclaims his innocence, escapes during the burial of his son.

The bottom line: Corinne Masiero, Niels Arestrup, Stéphan Guérin-Tillié, Camille Bordey and John Belushi...

Starring Corinne Masiero in the title role, the hugely popular French crime drama Capitaine Marleau returned last tuesday on pubcaster France 3 to hit another rating record. The very good Chambre avec vue caught 6.838.000 viewers (29%!) Actor, scriptwriter and director Stéphan Guérin-Tillié, who wrote the episodes Les mystères de la foi (where he played a sympathetic priest) and Brouillard en thalasso, penned this excellent La mémoire enfouie. Directed by series helmer and producer Josée Dayan, the 9th Marleau was filmed between May and June 2017 in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

The extraordinary Corinne Masiero faces the great stage, movie and television actor Niels Arestrup as Hervé Gerfaut. Belgian actor Daniel Hanssens plays Max Boilon, a retired gendarme dressed like the Blues Brothers, who assists the capitaine (1). Sara Martins (Death in Paradise) guest stars as activist Irene Ruff. Marleau starts the episode in a stretcher, wants to play golf and meets bikers. La mémoire enfouie is a festival of brilliant dialogues, one of the trademarks of Stéphan Guérin-Tillié. He definitely ranks amongst the best writers of Capitaine Marleau.

Also with Florence Thomassin (Mathilde Liorade), Rabah Loucif (Lyes), Joel Lefrançois (Gérard Liorade), Ludovic Berthillot (Pablo Vega), Alice Renom (Camille), Zacharie Chasseriaud (Arthur Gerfaut), etc. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co, with the participation of France Télévisions and Radio Télévision Suisse. Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Series created by Elsa Marpeau. Sang et lumière, the next episode (2), guest stars David Suchet (Agatha Christie's Poirot).

(1) Let's hope that this character will return.
(2) Air date unknown.

http://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/nouvelle-aquitaine/haute-vienne/saint-leonard-de-noblat/celebre-capitaine-marleau-enquete-nouvelle-aquitaine-1254809.html

See also:

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/10/capitaine-marleau-chambre-avec-vue.html 

Monday, 2 October 2017

CAPITAINE MARLEAU: CHAMBRE AVEC VUE (FRANCE 3)

Someone tries to murder Catherine Rougemont, ex-colonel of the Gendarmerie and owner of a small seaside hotel. Capitaine Marleau, who served under Rougemont 20 years ago, is convinced that Catherine knows the culprit. Except that her former superior won't talk.

Rougemont wants to protect women she hides in her establishment because they are victims of violence. But also her 16-year old grandson, whom she raised alone since the brutal death of his parents.

The bottom line: As long as Marleau avoids "Columbo as a ringmaster" stuff (1), everything will be OK.

Starring the extraordinary Corinne Masiero in the title role, France 3's crime drama Capitaine Marleau returns tomorrow. Its director and producer Josée Dayan  takes our favourite gendarme to northern France in this very good Chambre avec vue, written by Marc-Antoine Laurent and Jean-Marc Taba with series creator Elsa Marpeau (2). Capitaine Marleau conquered its rating juggernaut status last year and could now afford anything. Thankfully, except for two "surreal" jokes and a couple of rather clumsy political comments, the episode demonstrates appropriate moderation and sensibility. Chambre avec vue manages to remind of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the series pilot, thanks to the superb performances of guest stars Yolande Moreau (Catherine) and Patrick Bouchitey as Hugo Perez.

Rod Paradot, who won the César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2016 for his role in Standing Tall (La Tête haute, 2015), plays Catherine's grandson Gabriel. Cédric Le Maoût enters the club of Marleau's most memorable deputies as Adjudant Loïc Planchon. Also with Piérick Tournier (Julien Batz), Laure Josnin (Claire), Lucie Desclozeaux (Leïla), Margaux Vallé (Lisa Serelle), Thomas Baelde (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie), Gérard Pinteau, etc. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co, with RTS Radio Télévision Suisse, and the participation of France Télévisions and Pictanovo (Witnesses, Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie). Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn.

(1) See Murder, Smoke and Shadows (1989).
(2) The trio wrote En trompe l'oeil, the brilliant fifth episode.

http://www.courrier-picard.fr/17524/article/2017-03-16/la-serie-policiere-capitaine-marleau-tournee-en-baie-de-somme
http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/220460/article/2017-09-19/le-nouvel-adjudant-du-capitaine-marleau-est-tourquennois 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

LAST MONTH ON THIS BLOG (OR NOT)

So..
 
REVIEWS

- Black Forest Clinic 3 (First half of S2, French Region 2 DVD):

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/09/black-forest-clinic-3-first-half-of-s2.html

- Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (France 2):

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/09/les-petits-meurtres-dagatha-christie.html (Crimes Haute Couture)

- Midsomer Murders (Series 19, French Region 2 DVD):

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/09/midsomer-murders-series-19-french.html

- The Callan File - The Definitive Guide (Quoit Media Limited):

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/09/the-callan-file-definitive-guide-quoit.html (Book review

NEWS

- L'intégrale des Minichroniques de Goscinny (French Region 2 DVD)

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/09/les-minichroniques-de-rene-goscinny.html

WHILE WE'RE AT IT...

Hated the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery. In an unusual move for your humble servant (patience is not one of my virtues, I'm afraid), I'll wait for the arrival of Jason Isaacs to have a definitive opinion on this new Star Trek series. Because it's Star Trek.

I love the new DuckTales. It's America's answer to Danger Mouse 2015. And the casting of David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck is pure genius.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

L'INTÉGRALE DES MINICHRONIQUES DE GOSCINNY (FRENCH REGION 2 DVD)

Aired on TF1 in 1976-1977, Minichronique (aka Les Minichroniques) is a 26 x 13-minute comedy/social satire series written by French comics editor and writer René Goscinny, co-creator of Astérix, and directed by Jean-Marie Coldefy.

It will be available next tuesday on French Region 2 DVD, in a restored version, thanks to L'Atelier d'images.

Produced by TF1 (then a public broadcaster), Minichronique/Les Minichroniques stars stage, movie and TV actor Jean-Claude Arnaud as Georges Bouchard, the quintessential "average Frenchman". Each episode, introduced by René Goscinny himself in the manner of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, shows Bouchard's everyday life in humorous (and often surreal) situations.

Familiar faces of the era, like Jacques Monod, Paul Mercey or humorist Pierre Desproges, pop up in these little gems reminiscent of Les Dingodossiers by Marcel Gottlib and Goscinny, or even the sitcom Les Saintes chéries. Music by Gérard Calvi. The 4-Disc "Digibook" DVD set of L'Intégrale des Minichroniques de Goscinny  contains the 26 episodes, plus a 20-page booklet and an interview of Jean-Claude Arnaud.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

BLACK FOREST CLINIC 3 (FIRST HALF OF S2, FRENCH REGION 2 DVD)

In the beautiful Black Forest region of West Germany, Professor Klaus Brinkmann runs the Schwarzwaldklinik, a prestigious private hospital.

The first half of the second series of Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik, 1985-1989), the German cult medical drama, is now available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films as "La clinique de la Forêt-Noire - Saison 3".

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. Produced by Polyphon, Die Schwarzwaldklinik finally started filming during summer 1984 in the district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald.

Crime drama scriptwriter Herbert Lichtenfeld (Tatort) wrote all the episodes. 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. Launched in October 1985, Die Schwarzwaldklinik quickly became highly popular and attracted up to 28 million viewers. The first series ended during Winter 1986 but German viewers had to wait until October of the following year for new episodes.

Pr. Klaus Brinkmann (Klausjürgen Wussow) is at rest since his infarct. He'd like to return to work, contrary to the opinion of his son Udo (Sascha Hehn) and there's some tension between him and his wife Christa (Gaby Dohm). Klaus goes to San Francisco in order to see a heart specialist. In the plane, he meets a free-spirited and seductive German tourist named Maria Rottenburg. Dr. Vollmers (Christian Kohlund) says goodbye to Christa before leaving for Africa. The womanizing Dr. Schübel (Volker Brandt) is overtaken by his personal issues. Struck by a tragedy, Udo Brinkmann join Vollmers and the German Red Cross in an African country torn by a civil war.

While the personnel of the Schwarzwaldklinik remains confronted with all sorts of patients and situations, the first half of this second series reshuffles the cards with some emotion, a bit of action and a handful of effective dialogue lines. It also borrows to the proven formula of Das Traumschiff with some episodes partly filmed abroad, in places like San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and Kenya. Anja Kruse (Claudia Schubert), Evelyn Hamann (Carsta Michaelis), Ilona Grübel (Katarina), Franz Rudnick (Dr. Wolter), Eva Maria Bauer (Head nurse Hildegard), Barbara Wussow (Klausjürgen Wussow's daughter) as Nurse Elke, Olivia Pascal (Carola) and Jochen Schroder as the sympathetic Nurse Mischa are amongst the other regulars.

Guest cast includes Hannelore Elsner (who later starred in Die Kommissarin) as Maria, Gustl Bayrhammer, Raimund Harmstorf (well known in France for Michel Strogoff) as Florian Brinkmann, and Lisa Kreuzer. Die Schwarzwaldklinik 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 initially hired for the music of Die Schwarzwaldklinik 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 song California Dream, heard in the episode Die Reise nach Amerika (the 90-minute second series opener) is performed by Jim Dawson. The four-disc DVD set of the first half of Series 2 is in French only.

LES PETITS MEURTRES D'AGATHA CHRISTIE: CRIMES HAUTE COUTURE (FRANCE 2)

[Spoiler-Free] Patricia Nollet, the assistant of Haute Couture designer Édouard Paget, wakes up in an alley near the dead body of a a murdered man. She confesses the crime to Commissaire Laurence.

With this confession and a judicial record, this fragile woman is a (too) perfect suspect. Laurence investigates while Alice Avril gets a seamstress job at the Paget dress shop to find out the truth. Marlène considers a career change.

Penned by  Jennifer Have and Zina Modiano, writers of the interesting Le miroir se brisa (1), the very good Crimes Haute Couture is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel Third Girl. It's the first of the two episodes of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (Agatha Christie's Criminal Games) directed by series newcomer Nicolas Picard-Dreyfuss (Candice Renoir, Nicolas Le Floch) between April and July 2017. Swiss TV channel RTS Un aired it yesterday ahead of French pubcaster France 2. The second one is Drame en trois actes, based on Three Act Tragedy.

Commissaire Swan Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) has a very special present for Marlène (Élodie Frenck) to celebrate the 5 years of their collaboration but the secretary expected more. As Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) involuntarily stirs up this frustration, Marlène rebels against her boss. She accepts to become a fashion model for Édouard Paget (his "muuuse"!) and quickly jeopardizes her friendship with Alice. A mysterious woman seen at the launch of Paget's first perfume is brutally murdered and Patricia Nollet is accused. 

Pathologist Timothée Glissant (Cyril Gueï) has his own idea about the case. Laurence is the subject of the unrequited attention from a young model.  Avril turns into the Rosa Luxemburg of the fashion industry. Why is Tricard (Dominique Thomas) so convinced of Patricia's innocence? Crimes Haute Couture patiently unfolds the plot in a style close to the Larosière-Lampion era until an hilarious incident involving Laurence and Bubulle, Marlène's goldfish. Then it's pure Laurence/Avril/Marlène, with some of the best dialogue lines in the history of Les petits Meurtres delivered by the main actors in top shape.

Dominique Thomas is given another particular occasion to showcase his talent after L'homme au complet marron (2). The production values look incredibly lavish under the astute direction of Nicolas Picard-Dreyfuss. The excellent guest cast includes Yannik Landrein (Édouard Paget), Camille Claris (Patricia Nollet), Raphaëline Goupilleau (Louise Charpentier), Charline Paul (Gigi), Clara Antoons (Françoise Vermeer) and Laurent Richard (Narcisse Vermeer). Émilie Wiest, who plays Julie Lemon, had another part in Un meurtre est-il facile?, a 2015 episode. Éric Beauchamp plays Agent Martin. Produced by Escazal Films and France Télévisions, with the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France. Produced with the participation of TV5 Monde

Sophie Révil is the producer. Laurent Chiomento exec produce. Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. Music composed by Stéphane Moucha. Bertrand Mouly is the cinematographer. Crimes Haute Couture is in competition at the La Rochelle Festival of TV fiction and will be shown by France 2 this Friday, followed on the same evening by a Behind-the-Scenes documentary  (3). The next brand new episode aired by the channel will be Le crime de Noël, a Christmas special. In the meantime there will be repeats. Drame en trois actes will surface in France on a later date. Agatha Christie's Criminal Games is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice.

(1) Aired after L'homme au complet marron on France 2.
(2) It's about time for an animated Dominique Thomas/Tricard in the title sequence.
(3) After a repeat of a Larosière-Lampion.

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/174675/article/2017-06-08/les-petits-meurtres-d-agatha-christie-s-invitent-dans-l-ancienne-banque-de

See also: 

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/05/les-petits-meurtres-dagatha-christie.html (L'homme au complet marron)
http://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2017/04/les-petits-meurtres-dagatha-christie-le.html (Le miroir se brisa)

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

MIDSOMER MURDERS - SERIES 19 (FRENCH REGION 2 DVD)

DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) investigates bizarre and imaginative murders in the picturesque Midsomer County with his new DS, Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix), and pathologist Dr Kam Karimore (Manjinder Virk). From december 2016 to January 2017, ITV aired four out of the six feature-length episodes from the 19th series of Midsomer Murders. However, the channel decided to keep the remaining two for "later in the year".

Last spring French pubcaster France 3 didn't show them either but these episodes are in the French Region 2 DVD set from Koba Films, now available. Past a soporific premiere, Series 19 is in fact full of pleasant surprises.

- The village That Rose from the Dead: A 1940s themed party celebrates the reopening of Little Auburn, a derelict village left untouched since WW2, while three camps fight about its future. A young man behind an eco-village project, leaves the party on a bike when he's crushed by a tank (no less!) Unfortunately, the rest of the episode doesn't fulfill the promises of this scene. The only real drama is that Sykes, the Barnabys' beloved dog, has gone to Heaven. Paddy, his replacement, is brought rather predictably but at least the transition is better than for the DS.

Neil Dudgeon interrupts a placid mode for a short moment when his character has an encounter with a snake. Guest starring Caroline Blakiston, David Burke, Anthony Calf, Christopher Colquhoun, Hugh Dennis, etc. Written by Rachel Cupperman & Sally Griffith and directed by Nick Laughland.

- Crime and Punishment: The butcher of Bleakridge, the most remote village in Midsomer, is found dead in the cold room of his shop by his fellow members of the local Neighbourhood Watch group. The man was investigating a wave of burglaries in the village, but hadn’t identified the culprit yet. It's a little bit like Hot Fuzz without the comedy in this episode written by Paul Logue and directed by Renny Rye, though we could do without the production's insistence to match up the DS with the pathologist.

Frances Barber plays the leader of "the rural Stasi" (as Barnaby calls the Bleakridge Watch).  Katy Cavanagh, Neil Morrissey, Vicki Pepperdine, Sara Powell, Clive Swift  and Sam Troughton are amongst the other guest stars.

- Last Man Out: After the very good A Dying Art last year, scriptwriter Jeff Povey and director Matt Carter return to Midsomer Murders with this inventive and funny gem. Cricket is a ground for murder as DCI Barnaby and DS Winter investigate the death of a star batsman. They're about to interrogate the man who found the body: Jack Morris, the 12th player of the team. Except that "Morris" is actually Barnaby's old DS Ben Jones, working undercover to infiltrate a large-scale match fixing operation.

It's a pleasure to see Jason Hugues back as Ben Jones, former right-hand man of two DCI Barnaby. The reunion with John, the "duel" with Winter and Ben's confrontation with the match-fixer on the cricket ground are some of the great moments of this episode. John Bird, Susan Jameson and Natasha Little are amongst the guest stars.

- Red In Tooth And Claw: Death strikes in and around a pet show. There's an impressive number of rabbits and someone who plays with scissors in this most enjoyable episode, written by Lisa Holdsworth and directed by Steve Hughes.

Steve Pemberton is a champion rabbit breeder. Michael Obiora plays Oliver Marcet, the locum pathologist. English acting deity Susan Hampshire graces Midsomer County with her presence. Also with Aisling Loftus

- Death by Persuasion: A young woman slips away from a Jane Austen weekend dressed in period attire when she's stabbed in the woods with a feathered quill. A delivery drone becomes a most dangerous anachronistic element in this reconstitution of Georgian times where Barnaby and Winter must "blend in". John's wife Sarah (Fiona Dolman) is writing a novel and there's another temp pathologist, Petra Antonescu (Anamaria Marinca).

An excellent episode penned by a very inspired Chris Murray and directed by Alex Pillai. It seems that both (and director of photography Al Beech) had some fun with this Midsomer version of a period drama, filmed in superb locations. Susie Blake, Abigail Cruttenden, Nicholas Gleaves, Claire Skinner, Karl Theobald and Samuel West are amongst a perfect guest cast.

- The Curse of the Ninth: The winner of a music award is strangled with a violin string and a piece of paper is found in his mouth. Barnaby and Winter face "the Curse of the Ninth", a well-known superstition in the classical music world: once a composer performs his ninth symphony, he's destined to die. Sarah has writer's block. Kam returns and she has something very important to tell to Jamie.

Another excellent episode, which reminds of Death and the Divas (Series 15) at some point. The guest cast includes the great Simon Callow, Robert Daws, James Fleet, Caroline Langrishe and Cyril Nri. Written by new Midsomer Murders scribe Julia Gilbert (Holby City, EastEnders) and directed by Matt Carter. 

The 3-disc DVD box set from Koba Films contains the French dubbing and, fortunately, the original dialogue track (available with optional French subtitles). Based upon the books by Caroline Graham. Produced by Bentley Productions (part of All3Media) for ITV. Exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Ella Kelly. Music composed by Jim Parker

http://www.kobafilms.fr/series-tv/595-inspecteur-barnaby-saison-19-3344428068721.html
http://midsomermurders.org/

Monday, 4 September 2017

THE CALLAN FILE - THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE (QUOIT)

Created and written by James Mitchell, Callan (1967-1972) is a British spy drama about the hitman of a shadowy government security service. Edward Woodward played the moody and cynical David Callan, an assassin with a conscience. A realistic secret agent closer to the job description by John le Carré or Len Deighton than to the image of James Bond.

The series turned Woodward into a household name. After Callan, he starred in the The Wicker Man (1973) and became  internationally famous thanks to Breaker Morant (1980) and the U.S. series The Equalizer (1985-1989). Callan spawned novels, a feature film (1974) and a 1981 TV special. Regarded as a classic, it is the subject of The Callan File - The Definitive Guide, an amazing book written by Robert Fairclough & Mike Kenwood and released by Quoit Media Limited in September 2016.

« Espionage is about people. » (James Mitchell)

Born in the North East of England, James Mitchell (1926-2002) had several jobs, including shipyard worker and teacher, before establishing himself as a novelist and scriptwriter. He published his first novel, A Time for Murder, in 1955 under the pseudonym of Patrick O. McGuire. Mitchell broke into television when he was asked to adapt his third book, A Way Back (1959), for an episode of Armchair Mystery Theatre  aired on the ITV network in 1960. He went on writing for series such as Z Cars, The Avengers and Crane while working his novels. Success came to the author with the character of John Craig, a reluctant British agent for the Department K featured in four books published from 1964 to 1969 (as James Munro) (1). Then came David Callan, James Mitchell's other antihero.

Edward Woodward, a classical actor with a few guest roles in dramas and the lead part in BBC2's Sword of Honour (1967), originated the role in A Magnum for Schneider. Produced by ABC Television (Associated British Corporation) for ITV's Armchair Theatre and directed by Bill Bain, this play penned by Mitchell was shown in February 1967. Callan is an operative/killer for "The Section", sidelined for being curious about his targets. He's called back by its boss, Colonel "Charlie" Hunter (Ronald Radd), who asks him to kill a German businessman named Rudolf Schneider. David happens to share an interest in wargaming with the man. But he asks Lonely (Russell Hunter), a petty criminal who has halitosis and hygiene issues, to get him an illicit gun. Meres (Peter Bowles), Hunter's right-hand man, keeps an eye on Callan.

A Magnum for Schneider was well received, particularly because of the script and Woodward's performance. Developed by James Mitchell and scriptwriter Terence Feely, Callan, the subsequent series, premiered on ABC during summer of the same year. Edward Woodward and Russell Hunter returned. The relationship between David Callan and Lonely evolved to an unlikely partnership and later to the closest thing a man like Callan could afford for a friendship. Ronald Radd came back as Hunter (actually a codename). He was succeeded by Michael Goodliffe, Derek Bond and William Squire. Anthony Valentine replaced Peter Bowles as upper-class thug Toby Meres. Clifford Rose appeared as Snell, the Section's doctor. Liz March, Hunter's secretary, was played by Lisa Langdon. The melancholic theme tune was actually a 1960 library music piece titled Girl in the Dark by Jack Trombey (an alias of Dutch composer Jan Stoeckart).

Series 2, aired on Thames Television, concluded with Callan in a much talked about uncertain fate after he shot his boss dead. Though he survived for a third series made in colour and co-starring Patrick Mower as Meres' replacement James Cross. The fourth and final series, televised in 1972, ended with a three-part story called The Richmond File (2). James Mitchell wrote 18 episodes of Callan. Robert Banks Stewart (the creator of Bergerac) and George Markstein (The Prisoner) were some of the other writers. Edward Woodward, Russell Hunter and Clifford Rose reprised their roles in Callan (1974), a feature film directed by Don Sharp and written by James Mitchell, from his own novelization of A Magnum for Schneider (Red File for Callan, 1971). Callan and Lonely went back to the small screen in 1981 for Wet Job, an ATV 80-minute special written by Mitchell and helmed by Shaun O'Riordan.

Callan combined great writing and characterization with exceptional acting talents (starting with Woodward and Hunter). Robert Fairclough & Mike Kenwood celebrate this important British television programme, launched 50 years ago, in The Callan File - The Definitive Guide. They meticulously detail the creation and production of the different versions of Callan: the one-off TV play, the series, the film, the special. Even the novels, the short stories and the 2012 radio play. Their considerable work is enriched by biographies, words of many of the persons involved at different levels, an history of the broadcaster, as well as an analysis of the influences and legacy of Callan. There are appendices about the repeats, the recordings, home video, etc. The Callan File - The Definitive Guide also includes a photo section, an extract of a new Callan novel by Peter Mitchell (James Mitchell's son) and a foreword by director Bharat Nalluri (Spooks).

(1) The Innocent Bystanders (1969), the last John Craig novel, was adapted as a movie starring Stanley Baker in 1972.
(2) https://archivetvmusings.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/callan-the-richmond-file-call-me-enemy/ + https://archivetvmusings.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/callan-the-richmond-file-do-you-recognise-the-woman/ + https://archivetvmusings.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/callan-the-richmond-file-call-me-enemy/

http://www.quoitmedia.co.uk/callanfile.htm
http://spyvibe.blogspot.fr/2016/09/the-callan-file.html
http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/the_callan_file.htm

See also:

http://www.cathoderaytube.co.uk/2010/02/callan-monochrome-years-review.html
http://www.cathoderaytube.co.uk/2010/05/callan-colour-years.html
http://www.cathoderaytube.co.uk/2011/03/callan-wet-job-dvd-review.html
http://myteleisrich.hautetfort.com/archive/2012/12/13/uk-callan.html (In French)

Friday, 1 September 2017

LAST MONTH ON THIS BLOG

So..
 
REVIEWS

- Midsomer Murders: Death by Persuasion + The Curse of the Ninth (Series 19, Episodes 5 & 6):


NEWS

With some words about Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (Agatha Christie's Criminal Games) and Midsomer Murders:

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

MIDSOMER MURDERS: DEATH BY PERSUASION + THE CURSE OF THE NINTH (SERIES 19, EPISODES 5 & 6)

["Mini reviews"] From december 2016 to January 2017, ITV aired four out of the six episodes from the 19th series of its long-running detective drama Midsomer Murders. But for some reason they kept the remaining two for "later in the year". 

Oddly, Death By Persuasion and The Curse of the Ninth, surfaced this summer in some countries like Australia. These episodes are even included in the French Region 2 DVD set from Koba Films, though France 3 didn't show them with the others last spring.

- Death by Persuasion (Episode 5): A young woman slips away from a Jane Austen weekend dressed in period attire when she's stabbed in the woods with a feathered quill. A delivery drone becomes a most dangerous anachronistic element in this reconstitution of Georgian times where DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) must "blend in". Sarah Barnaby (Fiona Dolman) is writing a novel and there's another temp pathologist (1) while Dr Kam Karimore (Manjinder Virk) is away. Her name is Petra Antonescu (Anamaria Marinca).

An excellent episode penned by a very inspired Chris Murray and directed by Alex Pillai. It seems that both (and director of photography Al Beech) had some fun with this Midsomer version of a period drama, filmed in superb locations. Susie Blake, Abigail Cruttenden, Nicholas Gleaves, Claire Skinner, Karl Theobald and Samuel West are amongst a perfect guest cast.

- The Curse of the Ninth (Episode 6): The winner of a music award is strangled with a violin string and a piece of paper is found in his mouth. Barnaby and Winter are confronted to "the Curse of the Ninth", a well-known superstition in the classical music world: once a composer performs his ninth symphony, he's destined to die.

Sarah has writer's block. Kam returns and she has something very important to tell to Jamie. Another excellent episode, which reminds a bit of Death and the Divas (Series 15). The guest cast includes the great Simon Callow, Robert Daws, James Fleet, Caroline Langrishe and Cyril Nri. Written by Julia Gilbert (Holby City, EastEnders) and directed by Matt Carter, who also helmed the absolutely brilliant Last Man Out for this series.

Based upon the books by Caroline Graham. Produced by Bentley Productions (part of All3Media) for ITV. Exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Ella Kelly. Co-produced by Ian Strachan. Music composed by Jim Parker. The Series 19 DVD box set from Koba Films will be available from tomorrow.

(1) After Oliver Marcet (Michael Obiora) in Red In Tooth And Claw, the previous episode.

http://midsomermurders.org/
http://www.kobafilms.fr/series-tv/595-inspecteur-barnaby-saison-19-3344428068721.html

Monday, 28 August 2017

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS BLOG

But first please accept our apologies for this long break mostly due to health issues.

So..
 
REVIEWS

- Columbo: Meurtre sous prescription (France 4):


- El Ministerio del Tiempo - Series 3, Episode 1 (La 1):


WHILE WE'RE AT IT...

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (Agatha Christie's Criminal Games) returns this friday on French pubcaster France 2 with three brand new episodes + a documentary for the 10th birthday of this very popular TV series. 

You can find advanced reviews of the first two episodes on this little blog:



Note that France 2 will air L'homme au complet marron before Le miroir se brisa.

This summer we received two DVD box sets from Koba Films for the blog. One of them is the 6-episode 19th series of Midsomer Murders. [Update - August 29, 2017]  The both excellent episodes 5 and 6, kept for "later in the year" by the scheduling geniuses of ITV, already surfaced in some countries and are, I'm told, included in the French set. Except that I didn't receive all the test DVDs. I will get the last one soon.

Monday, 19 June 2017

MESSAGE FROM THE CENTRE

Well, it seems that 2016-2017 will end for your humble servant like it started...
 
My bronchial tubes and myself will return but in the meantime I have to take a few things, in or with water, and have some rest. I have a great GP.

When possible, I'll focus on three (very) late reviews. Thank you for your comprehension, your trust and your regular visits.

Friday, 9 June 2017

COLUMBO: MEURTRE SOUS PRESCRIPTION (FRANCE 4)

Columbo: Meurtre sous prescription is a 2016 French theatrical play starring Martin Lamotte as the famous detective in a raincoat, portrayed on television by Peter Falk over a period of 35 years. France 4 aired it this week, after pay TV channel Paris Première.

Lieutenant Columbo first appeared in Enough Rope, an episode of a NBC anthology called The Chevy Mystery Show (1960), written by Richard Levinson & William Link. He was a secondary character, played by Bert Freed (1).  The duo then adapted their script as a stage play titled Prescription: Murder, produced in 1962 with Joseph Cotten as Dr. Roy Flemming, Agnes Moorehead as his wife Claire, Patricia Medina (Susan Hudson, his mistress) and Thomas Mitchell as Columbo. Later, Levinson & Link turned their play into the scenario of a film for television directed by Richard Irving. Produced by Universal and aired on NBC in February 1968, Prescription: Murder starred Peter Falk as the lieutenant, opposite Gene Barry as Dr. Ray Flemming and Katherine Justice (Joanne Hudson).

Irving directed again Falk as Columbo in Ransom for a Dead Man (1971), a pilot movie penned by Dean Hargrove, Richard Levinson & William Link. Following its success, the actor played the character from 1971 to 1978, achieving worldwide fame. Columbo also popularized the inverted detective story (2). Peter Falk returned to his signature role from 1989 to 2003. In all, 69 TV movies were made. In 2004, French impersonator and TV host Pascal Brunner became the detective on stage in Une femme de trop, adapted from the 1962 play by Pierre Sauvil. In the UK, Dirk Benedict (The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica) toured in a 2010 production of Prescription:Murder. John Guerrasio succeeded him the next year. Alexandre Brasseur wore the raincoat in Crime sans ordonnance (2013), another gaullic adaptation, directed by Didier Caron with Delphine Piard and written by Pierre Sauvil.

Created at the Théâtre Michel in September 2016, Columbo: Meurtre sous prescription is a new adaptation set in 1971's Los Angeles. It is written by Didier Caron (who directs with Delphine Piard) and Laurence de Villeneuve. Renowned psychatrist Roy Flemming thinks he has committed the perfect crime with the complicity of his patient and mistress Joanne Hudson: the murder of his wife. Unfortunately for him, Lieutenant Columbo investigates. Flemming doesn't pay attention to this disheveled, faux naïf homicide detective who smokes cigars and wears a creased raincoat. Same for Deputy DA Dave Gordon, Roy's good friend. Except that Columbo rapidly notices some inconsistencies in Flemming's story. Columbo: Meurtre sous prescription brings back the legendary lieutenant in a bona fide murder mystery play (with a fine humour) but the elements so appreciated by the fans are there.

Columbo never has a pen. He always talks about his wife and family. The dog and the Peugeot are mentioned. Many lines sound familiar to those who know well the 1968 Prescription: Murder. The play even opens with a title sequence modeled on the one from the TV movie, including the jazzy theme composed by Dave Grusin. Martin Lamotte marvelously captures the spirit of the lieutenant without trying to imitate Peter Falk or Falk's French dubbing voice Serge Sauvion (3). The talented Pierre Azéma plays the quintessential Columbo murderer. Karine Belly is excellent as Joanne. Stéphane Boutet is a pleasant surprise as the pious Gordon, quite different from the Burt Gordon played by William Windom in 1968. Dr. Flemming's wife Carol, played by Nina Foch in the TV movie, is absent from this version.

Recording of the play for television directed by Antoine Galey and produced by Le Théâtre Michel and La Compagnie des Indes, with Paris Première and France Télévisions.  Sets designed by Sophie Jacob. Costumes by Virginie Houdinière. Stage lighting by Sebastien Lanoue. Titles by Stéphane Pinot. Play produced by Le Théâtre Michel.

(1) The script took some of its elements from their short story Dear Corpus Delicti, published the same year in The Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
(2) Where the crime is described and the criminal (usually) shown right from the start.
(3) Serge Sauvion definitely contributed to the popularity of Columbo in France.

http://www.theatre-michel.fr/Spectacles/columbo/
http://blog.ticketac.com/2016/07/interview-martin-lamotte-columbo-theatre-michel/ 

Friday, 2 June 2017

EL MINISTERIO DEL TIEMPO - SERIES 3, EPISODE 1: CON EL TIEMPO EN LOS TALONES (LA 1)

Forget the US copycat, El Ministerio del Tiempo, one of the best contemporary television series, returns in all its glory. And even more glorious.

Series 3 of El Ministerio del Tiempo, the acclaimed Spanish sci-fi/adventure drama, premiered this week on pubcaster TVE's main channel La 1. Though ratings suffered last year, the creation of Pablo Olivares & Javier Olivares (Victor Ros, Isabel) got this third series thanks to its pop culture phenom status in Spain, a solid fanbase outside its country, format sales, and a decisive deal between RTVE and VOD giant Netflix. Hence an increase of the production budget.

Regrettably, Rodolfo Sancho and the producers couldn't reach an agreement so his character Julián Martínez is absent of these 13 new episodes (1). That's why El Ministerio del Tiempo welcomes back Pacino, played by Hugo Silva. Silva replaced Sancho during the previous series when the latter wasn't available (2). The title of this series premiere, Con el tiempo en los talones, is a nod to Con la muerte en los talones, the Spanish title of Alfred Hitchcock's movie North by Northwest (1959). Written by Carlos de Pando & Javier Pascual and directed by Marc Vigil, the episode is a brilliant tribute to the Master of Suspense.

A mission in the middle of the Battle of Teruel in 1937 ends dramatically in the epic opening scene. Later, in 1958, Pacino and his colleague/love interest Marta Sañudo are in San Sebastian, where Alfred Hitchcock attends the film festival with his wife Alma. After a confrontation with a Soviet agent, Pacino finds Marta dead at the bottom of the stairs and he calls Amelia and Alonso. The team tries to prevent the KGB to kidnap Hitchcock as Soviet Union wants to turn the director into the new Eisenstein! Meanwhile, in 2017, the courtyard of the Ministry is under renovation. Stuck in a wheelchair because of a leg in a cast, Salvador notices a curious construction worker with a walkman.

Vertigo, Rear Window, Rope, Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock who wants to make Amelia a star (which could have consequences for Antonio Banderas...) Add Kirk Douglas, a X-Men joke, a traitor a la Mendieta, etc. The wait is over and it was worth it:  El Ministerio del Tiempo is back. Also starring Aura Garrido (Amelia Folch), Nacho Fresneda (Alonso de Entrerríos), Cayetana Guillén Cuervo (Irene Larra), Juan Gea (Ernesto Jiménez), Francesca Piñón (Angustias Vázquez) and Jaime Blanch (Salvador Martí). Guest starring José Ángel Egido as Alfred Hitchcock, Belén Fabra (Marta), French-German actor Pierre Kiwitt as Petrov, Óscar de la Fuente (Francisco Morales), Julia Fossi (Alma Hitchcock) and Álex Piñeiro.

Produced by Cliffhanger TV, Onza Entertainment and RTVE. María Roy & Maite L. Pisonero (TVE), Juan Mayne & Augusto Rovegno (Netflix), José María Irisarri & Gonzalo Sagardía (Onza Entertainment) and Javier Olivares & Abigail Schaaff (Cliffhanger TV) exec produce. Luis Gutiérrez is the production manager.  Anaïs Schaaff and Javier Carillo are the associates producers for Cliffhanger TV. Isaac Vila is the cinematographer. Music composed by Dario González Valderrama, in full Bernard Hermann mode for the occasion. 

(1) Though Javier Olivares doesn't rule out the possibility of a return.
(2) Rodolfo Sancho was filming crime drama Mar de Plastico.

http://www.rtve.es/television/ministerio-del-tiempo/
http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2016/12/12/television/1481560867_287999.html http://www.fotogramas.es/series-television/El-Ministerio-del-tiempo-temporada-3-detalles

Monday, 22 May 2017

BLACK FOREST CLINIC 2 (SECOND HALF OF S1, FRENCH REGION 2 DVD)

In the beautiful Black Forest region of West Germany, Professor Klaus Brinkmann runs the Schwarzwaldklinik, a prestigious private hospital.

The second half of the first series of Black Forest Clinic (Die Schwarzwaldklinik, 1985-1989), the German cult medical drama, is available since May on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films as "La clinique de la Forêt-Noire - Saison 2".

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. Produced by Polyphon, Die Schwarzwaldklinik finally started filming during summer 1984 in the district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald. Crime drama scriptwriter Herbert Lichtenfeld (Tatort) wrote all the episodes.

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 numerous 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 Christa Mehnert, a nurse who marries Klaus and studies to become a doctor. Dr. Udo Brinkmann (2), Prof. Brinkmann's impetuous and womanizing son, is played by Sascha Hehn, one of the regulars of Das Traumschiff.

Brinkmann has a rival in the person of Dr. Vollmers, Christa's teacher. Udo enjoys his new life as a family man with his wife Katarina and her daughter. Klaus worries that one of his assistants isn't made for medicine. The personnel of the Schwarzwaldklinik is confronted with all sort of patients and situations: a stuntman has an accident during a car scene, a couple learns that life is literally priceless and Pr. Klaus Brinkmann himself has a heart attack. The head nurse even meets a lion! Karin Hart (Käti), Evelyn Hamann (Carsta Michaelis), Christian Kohlund (Vollmers), Ilona Grübel (Dr. Katarina Gessner-Brinkmann), 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), Alexander Wussow (3), Rolf Schimpf (later Leo Kress in Der Alte), Manfred Zapatka, Roswitha Schreiner, Karin Baal, Eberhard Feik (Schimanski), Sigmar Solbach (the future Dr. Stefan Frank), etc. 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).

Those two DVD sets of the first series from Koba Films are an excellent opportunity to revisit (or to discover) a true German television classic. "La clinique de la Forêt-Noire - Saison 2" contains a 90-minute version of the episode Der Versäger + the rest of Series 1, in French only.

(2) "Hugues" in the French dubbing.
(3) Son of Klausjürgen Wussow. In 2005 he played Dr. Benjamin Brinkmann in the two TV specials.