Wednesday, 19 June 2019


The second series of British mystery comedy-drama Agatha Raisin premiered on U.S. streaming service Acorn TV between Autumn 2018 and Winter 2019. It will start in France this sunday on pubcaster France 3.

Series 2, Episode 1: The Wizard of Evesham:

London PR queen turned amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin first appeared in a series of mystery novels written by M.C. Beaton (the pseudonym of Marion Chesney), who's also the author of the Hamish Macbeth books. Penelope Keith played the character for BBC Radio 4 from 2004 to 2006. In 2014, Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty, Extras) starred in the title role of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, a fun, fast-paced and charming Christmas special aired on Sky 1. Following the success of The Quiche of Death, Sky commissioned a 8 X 60-minute series aired from June to July 2016.

Sky 1 chose not to commission a second series but streaming service Acorn TV ordered three 90-minute episodes, based on the novels The Wizard of Evesham, The Fairies of Fryham and The Case of the Curious Curate. Written by Julia Gilbert (Midsomer Murders) and directed by Roberto Bangura, The Wizard of Evesham premiered on November 19, 2018. In The Fairies of Fryfam, which was released on December 24. Agatha Raisin needs a retreat to write her first novel (a murder mystery, of course) so she rents a cottage in the remote village of Fryfam. The place, called Oberon Cottage, dates back to the 17th century and a local legend says fairies live around the village.

Soon after Agatha sees glowing little things dancing in the garden, she's hired by a woman named Lucy Trumpington-James to prove that her wealthy husband, Tolly, is having an affair. When Lucy is accused of his murder, Agatha Raisin investigates. She's joined by Sir Charles Fraith (Jason Merrells), Gemma Simpson (Katy Wix) and DC Bill Wong ( Matt McCooey). Compared to weird lights, a doll on her door, a dead rabbit and "a stunning harpy, mermaid, Mata Hari woman", the obtuse DCI Percy Hand (Andrew Brooke) is the lesser of Agatha's problems. James Lacey (Jamie Glover) returns to Carsely.

Midsomer Murders regular scribe Chris Murray brings Agatha on a territory quite similar to the villages in the famous fictional county of the venerable ITV detective drama. The legendary English actress Annette Badland, who plays Dr. Fleur Perkins in Midsomer Murders, guest stars as housekeeper Betty Jackson (a fan of detective novels). Guy Hescott produces both Series 2 of Agatha Raisin and Midsomer since its 20th series. Helmed by Matt Carter (1), The Fairies of Fryfam is very entertaining in spite of the noticeable absence of Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) and DCI Denzel Wilkes (Jason Barnett).

« So, let's see if Lord Grantham was having an affair with the bisexual curate. »

Also with Clare Lawrence Moody (Lizzie Findlay), Tommy Bastow (Barry Jackson), Milo Twomey (Paul Redfern), Maimie McCoy (Rosie Wilden), Phoebe Thomas (Amy Redfern), Lucy Liemann (Sarah Bloxby), Nicholas Agnew (Tolly), Elarica Johnson (Lucy) and Rebecca Bainbridge (Polly Dart). Penned by Chris Niel (Free Agents), The Curious Curate is directed by Audrey Cooke. Almost all the women of Carsely are crazy about the new curate, Tristan Delon. Not Sarah Bloxby, whose reverend husband is in Nigeria for missionary work. Delon tries to alleviate her resentment during a dinner until she finds a letter from the bishop.

The morning after, the young man is found murdered in Sarah Bloxby's house with one of her knives. DCI Wilkes and DC Wong interrogate Sarah, though Wilkes is more preoccupied by the election of the chairman of the parish council. Agatha teams up again with Sir Charles to clear the name of her friend. They find out Tristan Delon wasn't a saint (and he wasn't "Tristan Delon" either). An anonymous note draws their attention on software multi-millionaire Richard Binser. Bill has a new girlfriend who's scared of meeting his mother. Charles makes a surprising announcement and Roy seeks a new job.

The Curious Curate is the best episode of this second series. Most of the main cast is back for a festival of brilliant dialogues, excellent comedy, a very good plot with a couple of twists and nice performances by Olly Rix as Tristan and John Light (Richard Binser). The talented Jason Barnett brings DCI Wilkes, Carsely's Inspector Clouseau, to the pantheon of the great British TV comedy cops. Also starring Georgia Slowe (Ellen Partle), Pippa Haywood (Reverend Grace Lansing), Nicola Stephenson (Liz Jellop), Emma Cooke (Peggy Slither), Amy Beth Hayes (Charlotte Bellinge), etc. Produced by Free@Last TV and Company Pictures (an all3media company). 

Co-produced by Acorn Media Enterprises (a division of RLJ Entertainment, Inc.). Barry Ryan and David A. Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Michele Buck exec produces for Company Pictures. Shane Murphy exec produces for Acorn Media Enterprises. Produced by Guy Hescott. Ian Strachan is the line producer. Music composed by Evan Jolly. Theme composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. Cinematography by Al Beech. Distributed by all3media International, except for English-speaking territories, which are handled by Acorn Media International. Sky bought Series 2 for the U.K. and Ireland. Agatha Raisin will be back for a third series.

(1) Matt Carter directed 5 episodes of Midsomer Murders between 2016 and 2018.

Thursday, 6 June 2019


Il commissario Montalbano, the Italian detective drama launched 20 years ago and starring Luca Zingaretti as the character created by author Andrea Camilleri, returned in February on RAI 1 with two new 120-minute episodes: L'altro capo del filo and Un diaro del'43.

Series regulars Cesare Bocci (Mimi Augello), Peppino Mazzotta (Giuseppe Fazio), Angelo Russo (Catarella), Davide Lo Verde (Galluzzo), Giovanni Guardiano (Jacomuzzi) and Sonia Bergamasco (Livia) are back alongside Luca Zingaretti. Aglaia Mora plays pathologist Dr. Barresi. Written by Francesco Bruni, Andrea Camilleri, Salvatore De Mola and Leonardo Marini with Valentina Alferj, L'altro capo del filo is based on Camilleri's namesake novel published in 2016 (in English: The Other End of The Line). Salvo Montalbano and his team must assist the Guardia Costiera (the Italian Coast Guard) because of a massive arrival of refugees.

Montalbano is accompanied by Dr. Osman, who acts as translator. Later, Livia asks him to get a new suit for their presence at a friend's confirmation of her wedding vows. She wants him to see seamstress Elena Biasini but Montalbano is less than enthusiastic. Elena appears to be charming and competent but soon the young woman is found murdered. Agent Catarella is a sensitive person and good man. Dr. Pasquano is on holidays. Marcello Perracchio, who played the pathologist, died in July 2017. The excellent and moving L'altro capo del filo brings Salvo Montalbano in the heart of the tragedy of migrants.

Helmed as usual by Alberto Sironi, this episode has some visually impressive scenes off the coast with a helicopter of the Guardia Costiera and one of its ship, the patrol vessel Diciotti. Also starring Elena Radonicich (Elena), Ahmed Hafiene (Dr. Osman), Eurydice El-Etr (Meriam), Giorgia Salari (Anna Silch), Carlo Calderone (Franco Guida), Anna Ferruzzo (Teresa), David Cannavò (Lilo Scotto), Davide Dolores (Diego Trupia), Nour Zarafi ("Extracomunitario" young man), Safa Derguala (Leena), Hossein Taheri (Abdul Alkarim), etc.

Based on two short stories (Un diario del'43 and Being here) (1), Un diario del'43 was penned by Francesco Bruni, Andrea Camilleri, Salvatore De Mola and Leonardo Marini with Valentina Alferj. Montalbano meets an old American named John Zuck but born Giovanni Zuccotti in Vigàta. Zuccotti tells Salvo his story and how surprised he was to find his name on the town war memorial. Journalist Nicolò Zito visits the commissario at his office to leave him a diary from 1943 found in one of the two grain silos demolished by order of the mayor of Vigàta.

A nonagenarian is shot and Catarella has terrible news: the beloved Dr. Pasquano has died. Directed by Alberto Sironi, Un Diario del'43 is absolutely superb. The tribute to Pasquano and Marcello Perracchio is beautiful and elegant. The performance of American actor Dominic Chianese ("Uncle Junior" in The Sopranos) as John Zuck is award-worthy. Giulio Brogi, who plays Brother Carlo Colussi, died at the age of 83 the day after Rai 1 shown the episode. Roberto Nobile returns as Nicolò Zito.

Also starring Selene Caramazza (Alessandra De Rossi), Roberta Caronia (Rosalba), Marco Basile (Matteo Todaro), Aldo La Spina (Pepè Panarello), Rosa Giustolisi (Mrs Pasquano), Angelo Tosto (Don Giummarra), Sylvia La Monaca (Franca Puca), Franco Colaiemma, Nellina Laganà (Zina), Nino Bellomo (Angelino Todaro), Lorenzo Adorni (Young Carlo Colussi), Fabrizio Romano (Father Carmelo), etc. Il commissario 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. Gianfranco Barbagallo exec produces. Chrystelle Robin is the production manager. Music composed and conducted by Franco Piersanti. Songs by Olivia Sellerio. Cinematography by Franco Lecca. Filmed with the support of Regione Siciliana and Sicilia Film Commission. This production is part of the Programma Sensi Contemporanei Cinema e Audiovisivo.

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. In the United States, the series is available on MHZ Choice under the title Detective Montalbano. The SVOD service will premiere both episodes (The Other End of the Line and A diary from 1943) this month.

(1) Both from Un mese con Montalbano (1998). (The blog of Carlo Degli Esposti) 

Monday, 3 June 2019


Tom Delormes, who owns the Camping Paradis, travels back in time to the year 1976.

The bottom line: Tom, ange gardien.

Launched in 2006, Camping Paradis was created by Michel Alexandre, Ludovic Pion-Dumas & Anne Badel. Produced by JLA Productions with TF1, this comedy series is centered on the everyday life and problems of Tom Delormes, a campsite owner, and his team. Regular cast members since the beginning are Laurent Ournac (Tom), Thierry Heckendorn (André Durieux) and Patrick Guérineau (Xavier Proteau). Humorist Candiie plays Audrey Dukor since season 8. Patrick Paroux (Around the world in 80 days, Amelie) recurs as Christian Parizot, the most faithful client of the Camping Paradis. 

In 2017, Camping paradis celebrated its 50th episode and left the 90-minute format for the same 2 x 52-minute as TF1's long-running comedy/drama Joséphine, ange gardien. The characters of the two hits of the channel met last year in an episode of each series. Cette année-là is the second episode of Camping Paradis directed by Laurent Ournac. It was penned by Laurent Mondy (Le prix de la loyauté, Commissaire Magellan), who wrote several other episodes of Camping Paradis and co-wrote its side of the crossover. 

Tom Delormes considers selling the campsite, which André doesn't approve. He's about to meet the buyers when he accidentally bumps his head and faints. When Tom awakes, the Camping Paradis looks a bit different: France is struck by a heat wave, Jacques Chirac is Prime Minister (not for long) and Claude François sings Cette année-là. Delormes tries to use his cell phone but he can't because he's now in July 1976! The camping is called Chez Patrick ("C'est magnifique!") and it belongs to Patrick Delormes, Tom's father.

Patrick wants to sell his property to banker Aymeric Flambrin but the latter needs Marie Tourvel, his accountant, to audit Chez Patrick before the transaction. Marie happens to be the future mother of Tom Delormes. Tom tries to tell a much younger André Durieux what happened to him but the only one who believes him is Monsieur Parizot. Not Christian but his father Jacques Parizot (Patrick Paroux), a physics teacher from Colmar and a kind of zany inventor. Tom thinks that his "mission" is to prevent the sale in order that Marie falls in love with Patrick.

Tom Delormes meets the other members of Patrick's team: Javier, the womanizing bartender (Patrick Guérineau), and Odile (Candiie). Serge Lefebvre, a miner from the North of France, his wife Françoise and their son Danny arrive for the holidays. Their presence is an opportunity for Tom to teach his father the spirit of empathy that will become the trademark of the place. Marie is baffled by Patrick's bad management. Tom must queue up in front of a phone booth and Parizot wants to electrocute him to send him back in 2019.

Usually reminiscent of The Love Boat, Camping Paradis goes full Joséphine, ange gardien in the quite enjoyable and often funny Cette année-là. Patrick Paroux is fabulous as a Parizotesque version of Doc from Back to the future. There are no huge special effects but an artistic work made to give the episode a 1970s flavour. Starting from a very special title sequence (Camping Paradis 1976) which nods to the three-way split screen of Dallas (1). The 1980s aren't forgotten with the Tom Selleck/Magnum, P.I. look of "Javier".

Starring Mathias Van Khache (Patrick), Dounia Coesens (Marie), Mathieu Barbet (Aymeric), Benjamin Alazraki (Serge), Catherine Lefroid (Françoise) and Ange Toussaint Panicali (Danny). Produced by Jean-Luc Azoulay and Richard Berkowitz. Bernard Paccalet exec produces. Alain Bucaille is the production manager. Produced with the participation of RTL-TVI and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Music by Frédéric Porte. Main title song composed by Sébastien Lipszyc, Emmanuel Lipszyc and Franck Lascombes.

Cinematography by Olivier Guarguir. François Salisch is the production designer. Costumes by Nathalie de Belleval. Sandrine Diot is the artistic coordinator. Main title sequence by Cinespi. Distributed by TF1 Studio.

(1) The car of Aymeric is another nod to Dallas. (Camping Paradis: Un ange gardien au camping) (Joséphine, ange gardien: Trois campeurs et un mariage)

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Tuesday, 28 May 2019


[Favourite of the Month] Déa Versini is a police captain with a very special partner: her imaginary friend.

« Moi personnellement je serais l'incarnation de son inconscient mais c'est pas prouvé. »

French crime/comedy drama Double Je premiered last Friday on France 2. This  8 x 52-minute series was created by Camille Pouzol (Hard) with Stéphane Drouet and Lionel Olenga (1). From 2013 to 2019, this duo produced Chérif, the crime drama they co-created (with Laurent Scalese) for Making Prod, the company behind Double Je, and the same channel. Chérif tried a similar concept in a 2017 episode where Kader Chérif teamed up with Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch (Antonio Fargas reprising his famous role), whom he was alone to see and hear.

Captain Déa Versini, a shrewd Bordeaux police detective on the eve of her 40th birthday, lives with her young son and her italian father. When Alice Duval is found strangled in her appartment, Déa goes to the crime scene. She arrives late in her old red Alfa Romeo, awaited by a tall man with a mustache and a tuxedo. Named Jimmy, he's classy, smart, witty... and he exists only in her imagination. Which doesn't prevent him to investigate with the capitaine until Déa's boss assigns her a temporary partner: Lieutenant Matthieu Belcourt. His arrival disrupts an already complicated life.

Carole Weyers, a Belgian actress seen in Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, Manhattan and NCIS, plays Déa Versini (2). François Vincentelli (Hard, Les Chamois) becomes Jimmy with a look between James Bond and Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I.. Matthieu is played by Ambroise Michel (Cut, Nina, Plus belle la vie). The lieutenant is uptight, by-the-book, and averse to Versini's laid-back style of policing. Jimmy notices that his resumé is too good for a temp job at the police station and gets quickly annoyed by his presence. Déa tries to avoid working with Belcourt on the Duval case but she's not indifferent to his charm.

Alice wrote with Arnaud Lentin, an  environmental activist, a book about an important testing laboratory involved in a scandal. The laboratory belongs to Jean Duval de Thiéré, a powerful man and Alice's father. Double Je is fun, very well done, subtle and the cast is absolutely brilliant. It has shades of Randall & Hopkirk, Moonlighting and the Cary Grant comedies. There's a poster of The Philadephia Story (1940) in Déa's cosy "office", which is meant to be the place of the archives in the commissariat. The appearances of Jimmy sometimes remind of Al in Quantum Leap.

Capitaine Versini and Lieutenant Belcourt learn to know each other. They're called to the hospital by Déa's ex-husband Pr. Vincent Laubier because a multiple sclerosis patient says he witnessed a murder while he was hidden to smoke cannabis. Except that there's no dead body! Though the biggest mystery maybe Matthieu himself because his file is classified "Secret défense" and he has a second cell phone. The first couple of episodes of Double Je have great dialogues, a finely wrought characterization, good stories and an astute direction by Laurent Dussaux (Fais pas ci, fais pas ça, Hard).

Fleur Geffrier plays Jeanne Granger, the pathologist. Bruno Gouery is hilarious as Brigadier Fred Jolin. Also starring Pierre Laplace (Commissaire Xavier Frémont), Bastien Bernini (Damien), Denis Sebbah (Déa's psychoanalyst), François Dunoyer (Massimo Versini, Déa's father) and Giacomo Angotti (Théo, Déa's son). Le système D guest stars François Berland (Jean Duval), the excellent Jean-Toussaint Bernard as Arnaud Lentin, etc. Daniel Njo Lobé (Astrid et Raphaëlle) plays Maître Bernard. Débat de conscience guest stars Benjamin Bellecour as Vincent Laubier.

Both episodes were penned by Camille Pouzol and Lionel Olenga. Camille Pouzol is also the artistic director and the directrice de collection of the series. Story arcs by Camille Pouzol and Stéphane Drouet. Produced by Making Prod with France Télévisions. With the participation of TV5Monde and the support of Région Grand Est. Stéphane Drouet is the producer. Music composed and performed by Michaël Tordjman and Maxime Desprez. Cinematography by Bruno Degrave. The charming main title sequence was designed by Romain Bedouet. Filmed in Reims, Epernay and Bordeaux. Distributed by Mediawan Rights (Alter Ego is the international title).

(1) Based on an original idea from Stéphane Drouet.
(2) In March, Carole Weyers received the Best actress award (French competition) for Double Je at the Séries Mania festival.

Amandine Attard contributed to this review.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


Following the success of the TV movie Le prix de la vérité last year on France 3, comedian/actress Mimie Mathy takes another break from the long running TF1 hit Joséphine, ange gardien to return as Capitaine Marie Jourdan in Le prix de la loyauté. Mathieu Delarive is back as Capitaine Paul Danceny.

The bottom line: The price is (quite) right.

Crime drama expert scriptwriter Laurent Mondy (Commissaire Magellan, Les Cordier, juge et flic), who penned Le prix de la vérité, is behind the new case of this tenacious and quick-witted detective with a difference (1). In Le prix de la loyauté, Gendarmerie Captain Paul Danceny, now based in Aix-en-provence, is arrested by the police near the dead body of Dr. Gabriel Fabian. He manages to call for help his good friend Captain Marie Jourdan, of the Lyon Police judiciaire.

Fabian worked at the Clinique Vandeuil, an aesthetic surgery clinic owned by the arrogant Dr. Marc Vandeuil. Danceny was seen having an argument with the victim the day before his death. Procureur Gerfaud thinks he has his culprit but Marie quickly disculpates her friend. Paul's alibi is Vandeuil's wife Lorraine, with whom he has an affair. Gerfaud, who dislikes the gendarme, reluctantly gives the two captains four days to find the murderer.

Gabriel Fabian had a rivalry with Dr. Béatrice Keller, the assistant of Marc Vandeuil. And he dissuaded several patients to have surgery. Marie Jourdan meets Captain Danceny's father: Édouard Danceny, a high-ranking judge. With its rather commonplace plot, Le prix de la loyauté looks like an average episode of Commissaire Magellan. Both come from JLA Groupe, whose subsidiary Episode Productions made the two Marie Jourdan TV movies.

« Vous êtes très intéressante.
- Oubliez tout de suite. »

Miles away from her guardian angel signature role, Mimie Mathy does once again a great job as Captain Jourdan and her dialogues are effective. The inevitable and very "office du tourisme" aerial shots, one of the trademarks of France 3's crime dramas, are quite irritating. The very good guest cast includes two eminent actors who played in Enquêtes réservées (2009-2013) for the channel: Jérôme Anger (Édouard) and Yvon Back (Vandeuil).

Amusingly, Yvon Back appeared in two Joséphine, ange gardien (in 1999 and 2009). Also with: Gaëlle Marie (Lieutenant Sofia Zamara), Laetitia Fourcade (Lorraine Vandeuil), Sophie Staub (Clémence Vandeuil), Gaëlle Gillis (Jeanne Daguerre), Alexandra Mercouroff (Béatrice Keller), Marie Piton (Florence), Mathéo Capelli (Gerfaud), Marlène Veyriras (Pathologist), Nathalie Dodivers (Nurse), Carole Palcoux (Clinic employee), Maxime Florac (Police officer) and Valérie Leboute (Célia Moreau).

Directed by Grégory Ecale. Produced by Episode Productions with France Télévisions. Co-produced by Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge). With the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse and TV5Monde. Produced by Richard Berkowitz. Bernard Paccalet exec produces. Olivier Guedj is the production manager. Music by Fabien Nataf (with Alain Mouysset). Cinematography by Olivier Guarguir. Le prix de la loyauté has yet to be aired by France 3.

(1) Mimie Mathy is 4 ft 4 tall (1.32 m).

Amandine Attard contributed to this review. 

See also:

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


French pubcaster France 3's detective drama Crimes parfaits is a "semi-anthology" where a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime but a detective (different in every couple of episodes) proves him/her wrong. 

It's the concept of the inverted detective story, popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant.

Launched in 2017, Crimes parfaits is one of the many hits of France 3. The channel is the happy home of Commissaire Magellan, Mongeville, Meurtres à... or Capitaine Marleau. The later is no less than the most popular TV series in France, which certainly explains why Crimes parfaits is essentially a copycat factory of the gendarme portrayed by Corinne Masiero. With two noteworthy exceptions: Commander Renaud Delaunay, played by Antoine Duléry (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie) in Aux abois/Mise en scène. And Commissaire divisionnaire Damien Roche.

Philippe Caroit (R.I.S. Police scientifique, Les boeuf-carottes) returns as Roche in Pour l'Éternité and À coeur ouvert. The falsely naive and slightly caustic detective first appeared in Entre deux eaux and Haute tension, written by Céline Guyot and Martin Guyot (Mongeville, Commissaire Magellan, Femmes de loi). They are back, as well as director Lionel Chatton (Tandem). Claire Borotra (La vengeance aux yeux clairs, Le mystère du lac), who played the wheelchair-bound procureure Gabrielle Rossi last year, is replaced by Garance Thenault as Lieutenant Gaëlle Mareski.

Mathilde Moreno, the revengeful caterer of Pour l'Éternité, organizes more than a wedding when she kidnaps the bride Iris and arranges her death as a suicide near a dam. Damien Roche meets the young lieutenant Mareski, now at the Sécurité urbaine after 12 years in the army. In À coeur ouvert, renowned surgeon Professor Jean-Pierre David shoots a male nurse who blackmailed him and makes the murder look as he was the real target because of some public stances. But the commissaire divisionnaire is nobody's fool.

In spite of their flaws, the previous two cases of Roche showed enough potential for a spin-off series or at least a return in Crimes parfaits. Mainly because of the always brilliant Philippe Caroit. This new pair of episodes is even better, thanks to some welcome retooling and the arrival of Garance Thenault. There are no romantic banters between Damien and Gaëlle (contrary to him and Gabrielle) but rather a father-daughter relationship. The only problem of Pour l'Éternité and À coeur ouvert is the ridiculous tendency of Crimes parfaits to find excuses for their murderers.

Gwendoline Hamon, who plays Commissaire Florence Cassandre in Cassandre (another crime drama hit of France 3), guest stars as Mathilde Moreno. The excellent Jean-Yves Berteloot is Professor David. Sandrine Quétier, formerly known as a television presenter, plays Dr. Rebecca Triolet (a possible regular character?) Pour l'Éternité also stars Aurélie Vaneck (Plus belle la vie) as Iris, Thomas Séraphine (Simon Landais), Stéphane Aubry (Hubert), Maximilien Pascal (Fussen), Lise Laffont (Carole), Maria Laborit (Hélène) and Julien Sabatié-Ancora (Romuald Berthon).

With (À coeur ouvert): Benjamin Egner (L'Art du crime) as Cédric, Marika Vibik (Odile), Alexia Degremont (Claudia), Michel Delcampo (Loris) and Benjamin Duc (Garagiste). Produced by Episode Productions (JLA Groupe) with France Télévisions. Co-produced by BE-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge) with the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse and TV5Monde. Bernard Paccalet exec produces. Produced by Richard Berkowitz. Olivier Guedj is the production manager. Music composed and conducted by Frédéric Porte.

Cinematography by Maurizio Tiella. Theme music of Crimes parfaits by Jean-Pierre Taïeb. Main title design by Laurent Brett for Brett & Cie (Cherif, Cassandre, Transporter - The Series). Commissaire divisionnaire Damien Roche would be a great addition to France 3's saturday night crime slot. He clearly deserves his own series. (Entre deux eaux/Haute tension)

See also: (Brett & Cie)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019


To Monique Planson.

The legendary private detective Josef Matula and his dog Renz are back.

« Detektiv und'n Anwalt... Gab's da nicht schon mal'ne Fernsehserie?»

Claus Theo Gärtner (born in 1943) first portrayed the street-smart, working-class Hermann Josef Matula in Ein Fall für Zwei ("A case for two"). The long-running series, created by Georg Althammer and Karl Heinz Willshrei for Galmon Film (later Odeon Film), was about a private investigator and a defense attorney who solved crimes in Frankfurt am Main. Matula was 31 when it started on German pubcaster ZDF in 1981. When his partnership with Dr. Dieter Renz (Günther Strack) ended in 1988, the character teamed up with three other lawyers: Dr. Rainer Frank (Rainer Hunold, 1988-1997), Dr. Johannes Voss (Mathias Hermann, 1997-2000) and Dr. Markus Lessing (Paul Frielinghaus, 2001-2013).

In autumn 2011, Gärtner expressed his desire to leave after 30 years. The duo Matula-Lessing bowed out with the 300th episode in March 2013. Surprisingly, ZDF decided to revamp Ein Fall für Zwei around attorney Benjamin "Benni" Hornberg (Antoine Monot, Jr.) and p.i. Leo Oswald (Wanja Hues). With the same title but minus the famous theme composed by the great Klaus Doldinger (The Neverending Story, Das Boot, Tatort), the new version debuted in May 2014 and is still running. Claus Theo Gärtner even had a cameo in an episode. And every Good Friday since 2017, Herr Gärtner returns as one of the most popular characters of German television in Matula, a series of 90-minute specials penned by Ben Braeunlich (Tatort).

Matula - Tod auf Mallorca brings Josef Matula and his dog Renz (named after his first lawyer partner) in Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic islands. The detective must sail a yacht to one of the favourite destinations of German tourists for a rich client named Peter Janek. Once arrived, he meets Ingo Schumann, a yacht owner, and his companion Karin Weißbach. The morning after, Matula finds the dead body of Schumann floating in the harbour basin. Karin is quickly arrested for murder by Comisario Raphael Herras, the head of the local police. Josef discovers that the victim had other women in in his life and many secrets. From a golf course to a local club, via hotel balconies, he gets so close to the truth that someone wants him out of the island... or even dead.

Tod auf Mallorca is another brilliant case of the ever resourceful private eye played with panache and self-derision by Claus Theo Gärtner. Director Daniel Helfer (the SOKO franchise, Balko), who succeeds to Thorsten Näter, worked with the actor on a 2011 episode of Ein Fall für Zweï. Both Helfer and cinematographer Mathias Neumann sure know how to take advantage of the gorgeous locations. Guest starring Heike Trinker (Karin Weißbach), Proschat Madani (Der letzte Bülle) as Angela Bremer, Violetta Schurawlow (Maria Schubert-Sanchez), Carlos Lobo (Raphael Herras), Michael Roll (Kommissarin Lucas) as Robert Bremer, Jochen Horst (Balko) as Ingo Schumann, Tonio Arango (Silvio Mendes), etc.

Produced by Odeon TV (for ZDF and Austria's ORF) and distributed by ZDF Enterprises. Anette Kaufmann produces. Michael Bauernfeind and Rolf Wappenschmitt exec produce. Thomas Höbbel is the line producer. The excellent music was composed by Nikolaus Glowna. Matula - Tod auf Mallorca was filmed between October and November 2018. The real name of Matula's dog is Mumford and he's trained by Charlott Arzberger. (Ratings)

See also: (Matula - Des Schatten des Berges) (Matula - Wer Wind sät)

Friday, 19 April 2019


Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg pulls a thread of mystery, revenge and murder when he gets intrigued by a very peculiar spider.

The hero of French pubcaster France 2's Collection Fred Vargas is back with the outstanding Quand sort la recluse.

Created by best-selling French crime writer Fred Vargas (nom de plume of Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau), Commissaire Adamsberg is the main character of nine novels and three novellas published between 1991 and 2017. This contemplative and melancolic detective is surrounded by a colourful team comprised of the erudite Commandant Adrien Danglard, computer expert Lieutenant Froissy, Lieutenant Voisenet (an amateur ichthyologist), Lieutenant Louis Veyrenc, Brigadier Estalère, Mordent, Mercadet, Noël and the colossal "polyvalent goddess" of the brigade: Lieutenant Violette Retancourt. Let's not forget La Boule, a  big cat who lives on the photocopier.

Pars vite et reviens tard (Have Mercy on Us All, 2001), the third Commissaire Adamsberg mystery, became a Régis Wargnier movie in 2006 with José Garcia as the commissaire. In 2008, director and producer Josée Dayan (Les rois maudits, Les misérables, Le comte de Monte Cristo) launched her Collection Fred Vargas for France 2 with Sous les vents de Neptune. Author, scriptwriter and director Emmanuel Carrère penned this 2 x 90-minute adaptation of the fourth Adamsberg book (Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand, 2004) starring Jean-Hughes Anglade (Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg), Jacques Spiesser (Danglard), Hélène Fillières (Camille Forestier), Myriam Boyer (Clémentine), the great Jeanne MoreauCorinne Masiero (Retancourt), etc.

Sous les vents de Neptune was followed by L'homme aux cercles bleus (The Chalk Circle Man, Adamsberg #1) and L'homme à l'envers (Seeking Whom He May Devour, Adamsberg #2) in 2009 and Un lieu incertain (An Uncertain Place, Adamsberg #6) in 2010, three 90-minute films for television. Nine years later, Jean-Hughes Anglade returns as Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg in Quand sort la recluse, based on the ninth Adamsberg mystery (This Poison Will Remain, 2017). Helmed by Josée Dayan, who co-produces through her company Passionfilms, this 2 x 90-minute TV movie written by Emmanuel Carrère was filmed between August and October 2018 in Paris, Uzès, Nimes and in Camargue.

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg shortens his holidays in Iceland and returns to Paris as Adrien Danglard needs his help on the murder of the wife of an arrogant lawyer. But soon the attention of the commissaire is diverted by the death of three old men bitten by recluse spiders in the south of France. At the Muséum d'Histoire naturelle, Adamsberg meets Irène Royer-Ramier, a woman who knows a lot about the recluse spider. He goes into an unofficial investigation, for the highest scepticism of Danglard. Raphaël Adamsberg (1), Jean-Baptiste's own brother, holds one of the keys to this very strange case. Retancourt tells her boss that Froissy is confonted with a rather scary problem and something smells fishy in the brigade.

The cast of Quand sort la recluse, mostly composed of  regular collaborators of Josée Dayan, is impressive. Since Un lieu incertain, Corinne Masiero became the star of Capitaine Marleau (2015) for France 3. Directed and produced by Dayan, it's France's most popular TV series. Jacques Spiesser is Commissaire Magellan (2009), another hit of France 3. Aymeric Demarigny, who plays Brigadier Estalère, is known today for the character of Brière in Capitaine Marleau. Froissy is played by Sylvie Testud, Veyrenc by Jérôme Kircher and Élisabeth Depardieu brings an appropriate subtlety to Irène. Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) appears as Dr. Cauvert

Also with Thierry Hancisse (of the Comédie-Française) as Voisenet, Issaka Sawadogo (Mathias), Julia Duchaussoy (Estelle),  Bernard Verley (Vessac), Christian Vadim (Maître Carvin), Jacques Bonnaffé (Dr. Malempiat), etc. Co-produced by Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films with France Télévisions and the participation of TV5 Monde. Distributed by Europacorp. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. The superb music was composed by singer and actor Benjamin Biolay, recently seen in an episode of Capitaine Marleau. Drawings by Philippe Druillet. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Quand sort la recluse is a quite faithful adaptation of the Fred Vargas book and an exceptional television fiction.

(1) Played by Jean-Hughes Anglade too.

Thursday, 4 April 2019


One of the listeners of a radio show dies live on air.

Written by actress/scriptwriter Emmanuelle Michelet (who's among the guest cast) and Alexia de Oliveira Gomes (Crimes parfaits) with Capitaine Marleau star Corinne Masiero, Une voix dans la nuit is helmed as usual by director and series co-producer Josée Dayan. It's the 15th episode of French pubcaster France 3's hugely popular crime drama (launched in 2015).

«Je lui dirai les mots bleus.
Les mots qu'on dit avec les yeux. » (Christophe)

Eva Detrais is the host of Les mots bleus on Radio 7 Boulogne-sur-Mer, a late-night programme where listeners confide their problems. Chloé Leroux, a young woman, calls Eva. She cries, when suddenly the sound of a gun shot can be heard. Chloé has been murdered and Capitaine Marleau investigates. It occurs that Eva Detrais knew the victim. Someone targets former constestants of the Miss Côte d'Opale beauty pageant. Eva's assistant uses his job to seduce female listeners and the murder weapon belongs to a gendarme!

Ne plus mourir, jamais, the atypical previous episode, was above all a vehicle for French star Isabelle Adjani based on a novel published years before the creation of Marleau. The excellent Une voix dans la nuit is a healthy return to basics thanks to the well-crafted scenario, a perfect Corinne Masiero and a fine cast. Jeanne Balibar plays Eva, a character between radio show host Macha Béranger and TV weathercaster Catherine Laborde. Singer and actor Benjamin Biolay is brilliant as the ambiguous photographer Philippe Louveau.

Stéphane Debac is Lieutenant Franck Villiers, the interesting deputy of Marleau in this episode. Camille Garcia is irresistible as the gendarmerie telephone operator. Radio columnist and author Guy Carlier appears as the radio station manager. Also with singer and actress Camille (Caroline Celac), Micha Lescot (Jean-Charles Dumont), Victor Belmondo (Thomas Alleaume), Emmanuelle Michelet (Marie), Pauline Dicry (Chloé), Claudia Fortunato (Juliette), Armel Cazedepats (Alexandre), etc. 

Co-produced by Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co with France Télévisions and the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France. With the participation of Radio Télévision Suisse and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Marc Eisenchteter is the story editor. Series created by Elsa Marpeau. Capitaine Marleau is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Captain Marleau.  

(Amandine Attard contributed to this review)  

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Monday, 1 April 2019


Les petits meurtres de Miss Fisher, a couple of episodes from a rather mediocre second series of Crimes parfaits, The Good Detective and Isabelle Adjani (featuring Capitaine Marleau).


- Capitaine Marleau: Ne plus mourir, jamais (France 3):

- Astrid et Raphaëlle (France 2):

- Crimes parfaits: Étoile filante/Le grand saut (Episodes 11 & 12, France 3):

- Ms Fisher's Modern Murder Mysteries: Just Murdered (Channel Seven):

Thank you very much  for your constant interest, your fidelity and your trust.

Monday, 25 March 2019


Isabelle emerges from a long coma to discover that the novel in which she was the main character has been turned into an episode of France's most popular TV series.

The bottom line: When Isabelle met Marleau.

After Gérard Depardieu, Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) or David Suchet (Agatha Christie's Poirot), France 3's megahit crime drama Capitaine Marleau welcomes another very special guest star alongside Corinne Masiero as Marleau: the great Isabelle Adjani. Helmed as usual by director and series co-producer Josée Dayan, Ne plus mourir, jamais is based on the 2008 namesake novel written by Franco-British scriptwriter/author Marc Eisenchteter. He co-wrote the adaptation with Christian François, Elsa Marpeau (who created Capitaine Marleau) and Corinne Masiero. 

Eisenchteter previously penned the very good Suchet episode (Sang et lumière) with British-American writer and musician John McNulty. In Ne plus, mourir jamais, Isabelle Adjani plays Isabelle Laumont, a laboratory researcher who leaves the hospital some months after her awakening from a 15-year coma caused by an accident. She's firmly decided to reconquer her scientific work and her family. Particularly her companion, Richard Tamani, who ended up marrying Élise Jeanson, the babysitter. Isabelle is now a stranger to Aurore, her teenage daughter, and only her son Tom supports her. Élise is found dead in the river Charente, murdered. 

Capitaine Marleau announces the news to Richard and she visits Isabelle, who becomes the main suspect. This is not the first time that Marleau is shoehorned into the plot of a novel, not unlike when Columbo (an acknowledged influence of Capitaine Marleau) used two novels of Ed McBain with mixed results. Last year's episode Double jeu was based on the novel Le sosie de la morgue by Claude Luxel (alias Lucien Riffard). Published in 1935, it was first adapted in 1949 for the cinema as Entre onze heures et minuit (directed by Henri Decoin). Josée Dayan herself wanted to film her own adaptation of Le sosie de la morgue in 2015 with Gérard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant but the movie wasn't made.

Double jeu was an unsatisfactory substitute to Josée Dayan's film project and a rather odd departure from the series format, worsened by an awkward origin story of Marleau. Ne plus mourir, jamais is less an episode of Capitaine Marleau than the book of Marc Eisenchteter brought to the screen. Isabelle Adjani is both convincing and touching. Marleau is so self-aware that she seems to know she's on TV. Also with Thibault de Montalembert (Richard Tamani), Didier Flamand (Professor Lalou), Yannick Renier (Vincent Duparc), Quentin Dolmaire (Tom Tamani), Lily Taïeb (Laurianne Petitbois), Raph (Aurore Tamani), Sarah Pasquier (Élise Jeanson Tamani) and Christine Murillo (Valérie Wilkins).

Produced by Passionfilms and Gaspard and Co with France Télévisions. With the participation of Radio Télévision Suisse and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Capitaine Marleau is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Captain Marleau. (Double jeu (Sang et lumière)

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