Friday, 28 December 2012


We wish we could find some time to say how much we loved Channel 4's The Fear, with the supremely talented Peter Mullan. We wish we loved Doors Open (aka "The Decaffeinated Job") on ITV1 but we'll watch Hustle again instead - they did it better. Room On the Broom, from the creative forces behind The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child was, of course, wonderful.

We wish the rest of Doctor Who's seventh series willl be at least as good as The Snowmen ( We also wish RTL will have better things to show next year than Transporter - The Series or the pathetically bad Der Ballermann - Ein Bulle auf Mallorca (sigh). Etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, we wish you all the best for 2013 (we all need it). This month we have received Peter's Friends and series 13 of Midsomer Murders for DVD reviews.

And we'll try to open our big mouth about a few things. Hey, it's beyond our control...

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


Retired in Victorian England, a disenchanted Doctor (Matt Smith) reluctantly teams up with his friend Silurian detective Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her human partner Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and her Sontaran manservant Strax (Dan Starkey), against the snowy agenda of the sinister Doctor Simeon (Richard E. Grant). He considers having a companion again when he meets Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), a young woman who already investigates on her own.

In september the first half of series 7 drowned Doctor Who under its marketing "blockbuster" concept, the blatant winks to the American market, and the Pond family soap opera. After that the announcement about an "iconic" star in the 2012 special, the title sequence and theme makeovers, the new TARDIS interior, etc, etc, could only be received with a shrug of despair. « Sir, permission to express my opposition to your current apathy? »  Though sometimes Christmas miracles really happen.

« Carnivorous snow meets Victorian values. »

Of course this special, like often with contemporary BBC drama entries, visually looks like someone didn't pay the EDF bill. Of course you have to buy the idea of a lesbian reptile detective in the Victorian era (« Good evening, I'm a lizard woman from the dawn of time. And this is my wife.» ) And to forget that certain scenes with Madame Vastra and Jenny, returning like Sontaran Strax from the calamitous A Good Man goes to War, almost shout "spinoff backdoor pilot" with a megaphone. Past that and given what preceded last autumn, The Snowmen, written by showrunner Steven Moffat himself and directed by Saul Metzstein, is surprisingly enjoyable and even fun.

You don't even need to swoon over Moffat's Sherlockian credentials or heavy nods to Conan Doyle and Holmes to taste the atmosphere of a story where Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman shine as the true Victorian sleuth duo of the episode. The way Smith can bring maturity to his portrayal of the Doctor and capture attitudes of his predecessors remains fascinating. Also it was clear that Coleman was an excellent choice for the new companion right from her role in Julian Fellowes's Titanic. And although it seems no evil race in the galaxy will be spared by the Grand Moff's sense of trivialisation, the comic relief provided by the "psychotic potato dwarf" Strax offers some of the best moments of The Snowmen.

« I said I'd feed you. I didn't say who to. »

Richard E. Grant's third visit to the Whoniverse (after The Curse of Fatal Death and Scream of the Shalka) could sound like stunt casting. But Doctor Simeon, the titular villain, concludes perfectly a month where the actor also showed all his talent alongside the great Peter Mullan in the superb The Fear. Simeon displays his cold wickedness while being himself instrumented since his childhood (young Simeon is very Damien Thorn) by a disembodied entity the Doctor previously met. This adversary is voiced by the legendary Sir Ian McKellen in a performance as brilliant as the vocal stint of Michael Sheen in The Doctor's Wife. Tom Ward (Silent Witness) guest stars as the father of two kids in a situation where The Turn of the Screw meets Sci-Fi Channel's The Invisible Man (the Ice Governess has a "quicksilver" bad trip).

« Nice name, Clara. You should definitely keep it. » Too bad Jenna-Louise Coleman's character augurs another of Steven Moffat's contrived storylines for the second half of the seventh series. Anyway this year's Christmas special is rather pleasant, the new title sequence with the revamped theme (reminiscent of the original 1963 version) is fantastic and the new TARDIS interior design is gorgeous. « How refreshing to see you taking an interest again.  » Christmas was good, now there's a birthday to celebrate.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Based on the Transporter movie franchise created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, Transporter: The Series starts today in France on private channel M6.

Filmed in Europe and Canada for an estimated $43 million budget, the 12-episode series is co-produced by French company Atlantique Productions and Canadian prodco QVF Inc. with M6, German commercial broadcaster RTL, HBO/Cinemax, Astral Television/The Movie Network, and Corus Entertainment/Movie Central. RTL world premiered Transporter: The Series in October and already aired 7 episodes but out-of-order.

English actor Chris Vance (Prison Break) stars as Frank Martin - played by Jason Statham in the films - a professional freelance courier who drives a black Audi A8 and delivers mysterious packages against all odds. His rules: 1° Never change the deal. 2° No names. 3° Never open the package. Hungarian actress Andrea Osvárt plays Carla, who organizes the Transporter's missions. Paris-born François Berléand reprises his character of Inspector Tarconi from the movies. German actor Charly Hübner (The lives of others) is Dieter - Frank's mechanic and pal. The music is by Nathaniel Méchaly (Taken) and the theme is a cover from Canadian rock band Rush's Working Man arranged by Jamie Forsyth and performed by Danielle Armstrong.

The General's Daughter
[in German Eine Neue Mission!] introduces the aptly cast Chris Vance with a cinematic and spectacular pre-credit sequence in the streets of Marseille (1) and a parking garage, where he gives a welcome James Bond feel to his Frank Martin. Helmed by Canadian director Stephen Williams (Lost), this premiere smartly transposes the popular movie trilogy to television. Although without the car stunts - coordinated by Michel Julienne - and the well-crafted martial art fights, choreographed by Cyril Raffaelli, the generic script written by Alexander Ruemelin with Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie (the Stargate franchise) would sound like a recycled episode of the Largo Winch TV series.

But remember it's Transporter: The Series, not a Transporter 4 direct-to-DVD. Production of the big-budget series was plagued with problems: original showrunners Joseph Malozzi and Paul Mullie left over creative differences. And filming was temporary suspended after the excellent Chris Vance was hurt while shooting an action scene. The series is set majoritarily in Europe but if locations included Marseille, Nice, Berlin or Paris it was mainly filmed in Toronto and it shows. Worse, more than one third of the 12 episodes is definitely not up to the television Transporter's declared ambitions (2).

If Harvest
[Vaterliebe] stays watchable with a heavy dose of indulgence (see the Audi above the tram CGI stunt), the other episodes aired by RTL don't deliver the package at all. Switch [Echt falsch] is embarassingly tedious past the enjoyable Berlin chase. Action sequences can't save the cliche-ridden Dead Drop [Plan B] and Payback [Vergeltung!] either. And Sharks [Große Haie und kleine Fische], which focuses on series regular (and M6 familiar face) Delphine Chanéac as Juliette Dubois, is just dull. Compared to those retreads of a French-Canadian co-production from the 80s or 90s Trojan Horsepower [Tod dem Fortschritt!] is barely passable. 5 episodes remain to be seen in Germany, where Transporter: The Series started well before dropping enough to lose its 8.15pm primetime slot - taken by reruns of Alarm für Cobra 11 (3).

« I don't know how to make TV shows -- I let the people who know how to do it take it on and hope they're doing their job, » said Luc Besson to THR last year. It didn't prevent him to devise and produce his first series, the successful No Limit, for TF1. The mogul is not involved in the TV Transporter and said recently that he hasn't seen it, which seems incredible as his name will be associated with it anyway. Viewers will hardly find traces of Besson's fast-paced production style in this costly effort.

(1) M6's version of this episode has a different edit.
(3) RTL moved Transporter - The Series to 9.15pm. Ironically, Trojan Horsepower has a nod to Cobra 11.

[Update January 5, 2013] Apparently Canada has an intro with a different and longer edit (and singer?)

See also: (In French) (In French)

Friday, 30 November 2012


We have just received news about the dubbing of Doctor Who's Series 7 from the excellent dubbing author François Dubuc (Doctor Who, Supernatural, The State Within), one of the regular writers of Doctor Who's French-speaking version.

The recording session should start in december and François Dubuc is currently working on the French dialogues of Asylum of the Daleks, while fellow Doctor Who dubbing authors Rodolph Freytt and Olivier Lips are writing the remaining episodes of the series's first half.

Doctor Who is aired in France by pubcaster France 4.

See also (In French):

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Based on the Joe Faraday novels by English crime fiction writer Graham Hurley, the excellent French crime drama Deux flics sur les docks (Blood on the Docks) came back yesterday for a second series on pubcaster France 2.

In Mauvaise pente, adapted by Bernard Marié from the book One Under, Capitaine Richard Faraday (Jean-Marc Barr) and Capitaine Paul Winckler (Bruno Solo) investigate the death of a professional activist chained on the tracks of the Havre funicular and ran over by one of its cars, but also the disappearance of a photographer. The seemingly unrelated cases lead them to an art gallery and to a "Little Princesses" child beauty pageant - which raises painful memories for Lieutenant Julie Fabian (Liza Manili). Paul's sense of loyalty is once again tested, not only as usual with local entrepreneur and mobster Bazza Swaty (Emmanuel Salinger), his childhood pal, but also with his friend the medical examiner Brice Thorrens (Antoine Oppenheim).

After Les Anges brisés and Lignes Blanches (respectively adapted from Angels Passing and Cut to Black) last year, Blood On The Docks returns with absolute brilliance. Directed by Edwin Baily, Mauvaise pente is a superb piece of television served by a perfect cast - particularly Bruno Solo, Emmanuel Salinger and Liza Manili. Mata Gabin plays Faraday and Winckler's boss Lucie Dardenne, Guillaume Viry is police computer expert "Bill Gates" and Jean-Marie Hallégot is Lulu - Richard Faraday's deaf-mute son. Filmed in Le Havre, Deux flics sur les docks is produced by Gétévé (Zodiak France) and France Télévisions with the support of Région Haute-Normandie. It is distributed by Zodiak Rights (Being Human).

Mauvaise pente caught 3.177.000 viewers (12.6 %) and the third place against the French version of Survivor on TF1 and NCIS on M6. For the anecdote, Franco-German channel Arte premiered ITV's DCI Banks (distributed by BBC Worldwide) the same night for 799.000 viewers (3.2%) and TMC fared even worse with an opportunistic repeat of Poirot's Hallowe'en Party. Next friday France 2 will air Du sang et du miel, adapted from Graham Hurley's book Blood and Honey.

Special thanks to Michèle Dubray. (Ratings - In French)

See also:

Sunday, 14 October 2012


This week German private channel RTL world premiered Transporter: The Series, based on the popular Transporter movie franchise created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. The 12-episode series was filmed in Europe and Canada (in Toronto) for an estimated $43 million budget.

It is co-produced by French company Atlantique Productions and Canadian prodco QVF Inc. with
French private channel M6, RTL, HBO/Cinemax, Astral Television/The Movie Network, and Corus Entertainment/Movie Central

English actor Chris Vance (Prison Break) stars as ex-elite commando Frank Martin, played by Jason Statham in the films. Frank is a professional freelance courier who drives a powerful black Audi and delivers mysterious packages against all odds for shady and dangerous clients. His rules: 1° Never change the deal. 2° No names. 3° Never open the package. In order to do the job with minimal personal interaction, he relies on his trusted handler, Carla (Hungarian actress Andrea Osvárt), who organizes his missions. Paris-born François Berléand reprises his character of Inspector Tarconi from the films and German actor Charly Hübner (The lives of others) plays Dieter, Frank's mechanic.

Helmed by Canadian director Stephen Williams (Lost), the pilot introduces the television Transporter with a cinematic and spectacular pre-credit sequence in the streets of Marseille and in a parking garage, where the aptly cast Vance sets the tone for his Frank Martin by giving a welcome James Bond feel to the role. Frank's first TV mission takes him to Berlin - thanks to international co-production - where he must drive Delia Weigert (Rachel Skarsten) safe to her father, a general and business advisor. The transporter crosses path with the henchmen of a ruthless local mob boss played in minimalist mode by renowned German actor Uwe Ochsenknecht.

« I don't know how to make TV shows -- I let the people who know how to do it take it on and hope they're doing their job, » said Luc Besson to The Hollywood Reporter last year. His Nikita was adapted for television twice, in 1997 and 2010, and now the Transporter movie franchise is rather smartly transposed as a series format. The car stunts (coordinated by Michel Julienne) and well-crafted martial art fights, choreographed by Cyril Raffaelli, are fitted into a standard script written by Alexander Ruemelin and Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie (the Stargate TV franchise).

Without those mandatory ingredients from the films the story sounds like a recycled Largo Winch TV series episode and the talent of François Berléand is regrettably underused in this opener. The effective music is by French composer Nathaniel Méchaly (the two Taken, Colombiana). Overall this premiere is very watchable in its category (1) but can Transporter: The Series deliver such a package every week?

(1) RTL airs Transporter: The Series each thursday in the time slot devoted to the stunt antics of the Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï cops. (Review in German) 

Saturday, 6 October 2012


From Kudos Film & Television (Spooks) and American television writer and producer Frank Spotnitz (Strike Back, The X-Files) comes Hunted, which started this thursday on BBC One. The eight-part new espionage/thriller drama is a co-production of Kudos and Spotnitz's Big Light Productions for the BBC and HBO's sibling pay-cable channel Cinemax .

Australian actress Melissa George (The Slap) stars as Sam Hunter, an operative for a private intelligence company called Byzantium (Byzantium!) Left dead after a mission in Morocco sher returns to her employer in London one year later and ask her job back, without knowing who ordered to kill her and who to trust. Particularly as she suspects her lover and colleague Aidan Marsh (Adam Rayner). Her new assignment is to infiltrate the house of a mobster turned property businessman who is currently bidding to acquire a Pakistani billion-pound hydroelectric facility. But a terrifying blank faced assassin is after Sam.

« What did you expect? I'm a spy. »

One year after the final series of Spooks arrives the latest foray of Kudos and BBC One into the world of espionage. For Hunted the indie joins forces with X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz, the man who morphed Chris Ryan's Strike Back into that brilliant action/adventure buddy movie of the week called Strike Back: Project Dawn for Sky and Cinemax. This Anglo-American co-production is filmed in Morocco, Scotland and London on a budget looking comfortable. Reliable talents like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost), Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones), Stephen Campbell Moore (Titanic) or Patrick Malahide are amongst the cast.

Except that Hunted is neither Spooks nor even Strike Back: Project Dawn. It's a second-hand Alias (in which Melissa George played Lauren Reed) or La Femme Nikita or any recent U.S. entry in the thriller/spy  genre. The dialogues are terrible and the story has enough cliches to inspire a dozen spoofs to Charlie Brooker. Maybe the one who wanted Sam Hunter dead is a lover of good dramas. Spooks concluded its nine-year run after a couple of unsatisfactory series, Hunted is in advance. Cinemax will premiere the show on Friday, October 19.

Monday, 1 October 2012


Last week American network CBS premiered Elementary, its modern take on Sherlock Holmes starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. The show was of course widely commented ever since the announcement of the project because of Sherlock, the acclaimed BBC version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

Moffat's reaction was widely commented too (1). And the comparison between Elementary and the Benedict Cumberbatch starrer was inevitable given the worldwide prestige of Sherlock. But U.S. networks have an old relationship with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson through a consequent number of pilots and TV movies, or Holmes influenced shows like House
and CBS's own The Mentalist.

In the past the Eye network even tried to launch a modern Sherlock Holmes series with a couple of unsold pilots: in 1987 Michael Pennington played Holmes and Margaret Colin was Dr. Jane Watson in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. In 1993, Anthony Higgins was a very doctorwhoesque Sherlock Holmes alongside Debrah Farentino as Dr. Amy Winslow in Sherlock Holmes returns, written and directed by the great Kenneth Johnson (V, The Incredible Hulk, The Bionic Woman). For the record, CBS also adapted several Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple books and one of the biggest drama hits of its history, Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996) owes a lot to Marple.

Written by Robert Doherty (Medium) and directed by Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Dexter), the pilot of Elementary takes the 221B Baker Street sleuth to New York. Former consultant for Scotland Yard, Holmes is also a former addict and his rich father has hired a sober companion to watch over him during six weeks. This "addict sitter" is Dr. Joan Watson, an ex-surgeon who lost a patient because of a mistake. She's left no time to be confused by their first meeting as Holmes, who now consults for the NYPD, brings her to a crime scene where he must assist Captain Tobias Gregson (Aidan Quinn).

Retrospectively Team Sherlock didn't need to worry because the only thing the Eye got from them is a good amount of free publicity. Devoid of the gimmicks and mannerisms of the British series, the Elementary pilot is 45 pleasant minutes of an old school CBS procedural/crime mystery served by a competent cast. English actor Jonny Lee Miller does a decent job obtaining his rather likeable Sherlock a membership to the club of the eccentric and irreverent U.S. television detectives. Lucy Liu is an interesting Watson and the new pair works fine.

The total lack of pretension and originality of Elementary is certainly its main asset but this entertaining modern update of Sherlock Holmes shows some unexpected potential for more "sherlock holmesisms" than two names. We'd like to have further details about that woman in Holmes's past (THE woman?) and about Sherlock's dad. Nobody can pretend he is the only consulting detective in the world, it's just elementary.

(1) (In French)

Thursday, 27 September 2012


Midsomer Murders - Series 15, Episode 3. An amateur astronomer is killed by a blow to the head with a meteorite during a total eclipse over Midsomer Stanton.

Written by Steve Trafford and directed by Renny Rye, Written in the Stars brings back Midsomer Murders into familiar territories after the weak and endless Murder of Innocence - aired in march. DCI John Barnaby (the excellent Neil Dudgeon) and DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) investigate among the star-seeking community.

The victim, Jeremy Harper (Tim Wallers), had a row with university observatory director Lawrence Janson (Harry Hadden-Patton) before the eclipse. Harper was passionate about preserving Moonstone Ridge, a heritage site housing a 1930s observatory. But local mystic Mags Dormer (Maureen Lipman), who found the body, believes this site is cursed. Sexual tension, academic rivalry, a protective father who's also a yogi, a javelin, a masked killer, and Jones's star chart are some of the other elements of this case... or not.

Produced by Bentley Productions, part of the All3Media Group, Midsomer Murders is aired by ITV since 1997 and is sold to more than 230 territories. It survived the departure of John Nettles, who starred until 2011 as DCI Tom Barnaby (the actual Chief Inspector Barnaby is his cousin), thanks to a cautious transition. It even survived some uninspired words of its longtime producer Brian True-May (1), now replaced by Jo Wright (Lovejoy, 55 Degrees North) for this fifteenth series which started in february on ITV1.

Overall Written in the Stars meets the requirements of Midsomer Murders' more than proven formula. And the temptation to alter this formula from time to time should be resisted as showed a couple of previous episodes. It's precisely that formulaic aspect which makes Midsomer a global hit. The cast is perfect even if Fiona Dolman, who plays Sarah Barnaby, gets the worst scenes. And it's always a pleasure to see Maureen Lipman or Ace Bhatti (The Shadow Line, The Sarah Jane Adventures).


Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Today starts the filming of Doc meets Dorf - Ausgerechnet Kanada (working title), a new romantic comedy series intended by German private channel RTL as the successor of its hit Doctor's Diary - Männer sind die beste Medizin (2008-2011).

Inez Björg David (Männerherzen, Sturm der Liebe) plays Dr. Fritzi Frühling, a Berlin top-notch surgeon, who lands up in a village called Kanada - in the middle of the Brandenburg countryside - and  must share a medical practice with her ex-boyfriend Falk (Bert Tischendorf), a vet. She must also adjust to this new environment.

Written by Miriam Rechel, Doc meets Dorf is a teamWorx Television & Film GmbH production (Donna Leon) for RTL. Steffi Ackermann, who produced Doctor's Diary for Polyphon and joined teamWorx in 2011, is the producer. And it is directed by Franziska Meyer Price, who worked on Doctor's Diary and directed the excellent ARD crime comedy TV movie Lindburgs Fall (2011).

In German:

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Series three of TF1's Danse avec les Stars, the French Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars, starts on Saturday 6 October.

Called Strictly Come Dancing in the UK and Dancing with the Stars in the US, the BBC Worldwide format features celebrities with professional dance partners competing in Ballroom and Latin dances in front of three judges. Danse avec les Stars arrived in France on TF1 in February 2011, six years after the private channel tried a similar concept called Celebrity Dancing.

The contestants of DALS's third series are singer Amel Bent, singer Chimène Badi, former model Estelle Lefébure, olympic champion fencer Laura Flessel, singer/actress Lorie Pester, Swiss singer Bastian Baker, former international rugby player Christophe Dominici, singer Emmanuel Moire, roller champ Taïg Khris, and Gerard Vives. Vives is an actor who got fame with in the 1990s as gym gay employee Gérard in French sitcom Les Filles d'à côté and its sequel. Until recently he was the sidekick of host Vincent Lagaf' in the French The Price is right.

They will team up with dance pros Christophe Licata, Julien Brugel, Maxime Dereymez, Grégoire Lyonnet, Katrina Patchett, Candice Pascal, Fauve Hautot and Silvia Notargiacomo. Plus newcomers in the show, Denitsa Ikonomova and Christian Millette - both seen in the fourth series of the Canadian So You Think You Can Dance. Like the previous two series, Danse avec les Stars is hosted by Sandrine Quétier and Vincent Cerutti.

Salsa world champion Chris Marques and Canadian dancer and choreographer Jean-Marc Généreux - who was a judge on the Canadian edition of So You Think You Can Dance - remain aboard as judges but Alessandra Martines, pregnant, cannot participate this year. Judges will be four for this series as Marques and Généreux are joined by dancer and choreographer Marie-Claude Pietragalla and singer Shy'm, winner of DALS 2. Danse avec les Stars is co-produced by BBC Worldwide and TF1 Production.

In French:

Monday, 17 September 2012


Belgian? No... French. Imagine that Hercule Poirot, the detective created by Agatha Christie, is an epicurian cop and a womanizer living in the 1930s north of France. Imagine also that his assistant is gay and interested in modern investigation techniques.

Aired by pubcaster France 2, Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("Agatha Christie's little murders") is a French adaptation of Christie's books with two local sleuths, Commissaire Jean Larosière and Inspecteur Emile Lampion, instead of her detectives.

Larosière (Antoine Duléry) and Lampion (Marius Colucci, son of comedian and actor Michel "Coluche" Colucci) first appeared during Autumn 2006 in Petits meurtres en famille (A family murder party), a mini-series produced by Sophie Révil's Escazal Films, AT-Production and Belgian television RTBF, with TV5Monde and France 2. It was adapted from Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot's Christmas by scriptwriters Anne Giafferi and Murielle Magellan, and directed by Edwin Baily.

Set in Brittany in 1939, and filmed there thanks to the support of Région Bretagne, the 4X90-minute episodes were centered on the murder of the rich Simon Le Tescou (played by movie and stage veteran Robert Hossein). They caught an average of 7.3m viewers, which was tempting then to give the detective duo of the case its own collection of TV movies. Even if events in the mini-series actually prevented it.

And so the detectives created by Giafferi and Magellan came back in January 2009 for Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie, starting with an adaptation of The ABC Murders set in the north of France prior to Petits meurtres en famille. The series is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films, with France 2, TV5 Monde and CRRAV Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Centre régional de ressources audiovisuelles) and the support of Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais. 10 more episodes followed until now, each attracting between 4m and above 5m viewers.

The stories of Agatha Christie (Ordeal by Innocence, The Moving Finger, Peril at End House, etc...) are cleverly transported in France as a period crime comedy/drama. The ambiance evokes Christie's classics, of course, but also Midsomer Murders and Maigret with Bruno Cremer (1991-2005). Duléry is flamboyant as Larosière, the very French authoritarian, charmer and gourmet supersleuth with some secret emotional cracks. And Colucci is absolutely perfect as his young assistant, the shy and clumsy Emile, amazed by modern policing and gay.

Those two engaging, complex and subtle characters form a fun and effective pair in one of the best French television fiction since the already mentioned Maigret and Nestor Burma (1991-2003). Most regrettably, the two actors announced their departure in january and last week France 2 aired their final episode, adapted from Lord Edgware Dies, in its friday crime drama slot. An adaptation of They Do It With Mirrors will introduce a new duo, Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) and reporter Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir), in the 1950s.

It will be very hard for them to top Larosière and Lampion, whose era is already a classic. Abroad Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is aired in Finland, Hungary and Japan. The music is by film and TV composer Stéphane Moucha (Das Leben der Anderen) and Romain Segaud designed the great title sequence. Petits meurtres mais grande série.

In French:

See also: (Title sequence)

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Doctor Who - Asylum of the Daleks (Series Seven, Episode One). It's a day like any other day in Albert Square. Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) have a problem, the Daleks have a problem and the new girl in the block has a problem. The Doctor (Matt Smith) has a problem too: the Daleks wants him to solve their problem.

After eight months since The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe (the 2011 Christmas special) and almost one year since the last regular episode, Doctor Who is finally back for its seventh series on BBC One and BBC America. Five episodes in september, this year's Christmas special, and the remaining eight episodes in 2013.

Series six was uneven and often talkative, looking overinvested in terms of production values at some points and the reverse at some others. And sorry but its high concept soap story arc was painful (1). But who cares anyway? As Doctor Who's 50th birthday approaches, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are more popular than ever. Fans majoritarily adore the work of showrunner Steven Moffat and his writing team. The ratings are great and the brand is commercially at the top globally. It's so global that viewers outside the U.K. get a pre-title sequence with Mrs Pond reassuring us just in case we'd think this is Strictly Come Dancing.

« Hang on a minute, lads, I've got a great idea! »
(Charlie Croker, The Italian Job)

No Doctor at the London Olympics opening ceremony? Don't panic. We've been promised "a blockbuster every single week" for this series (2). Each episode is meant to be written like a "movie poster" and have one, which is amusing given the brouhaha around a the possibility of a jump to the big screen. The title sequence has been given a (terrible) makeover and the logo changes according to the theme of the episode. This is the "year of the blockbuster" and it starts with an Asylum of the Daleks packed, we're told, with "every Dalek ever!"

The Doctor is thought dead but the Daleks manage to bring him in front of their parliament, where he's reunited with the future ex-Pond couple because the time lord's deadliest enemies have a most unusual demand. Yes, the rigid pepper pots do have a parliament and even a Prime minister! - Question Time must worth a look. « What do you know of the Dalek asylum? » asks M to 007. The Daleks have a planet where they dump their broken ones (the battle-scarred, the insane, Spike Milligan's "Pakistani Dalek", etc...) (3)

« It never made any sense to me, » comments a lucid Doctor. « Because you'd just kill them. » But they have not only a parliament and a PM, they have also cafés philo where they discuss the beauty of the "divine hatred"(« Perhaps that is why we have never been able to kill you. ») This sudden state of enlightenment doesn't include Georges Bizet apparently. Somewhere on the asylum planet a young woman is listening to Carmen and making soufflés while the crème de la crème of nutter Daleks is about to escape.

« How much trouble, Mr. Pond? Out of ten? Eleven. »

The real divine element of Asylum of the Daleks, written by Steven Moffat himself, is the early arrival of Jenna-Louise Coleman, due to appear as the Doctor's new companion at Christmas. There will be no two-parter but we cannot bet for no arc as her introduction augurs another contrived storyline - the "twist" was no Keyser Söze - to replace the Pond soap opera. Moffat's recycling of his own previous ideas has been widely noticed and the episode displays a formidable sense of self-awareness, which culminates with the « Run, you clever boy. And remember » scene.

The Daleks won't remember (oh, lucky them). « Doctor who? » Precisely... On the plus side, director Nick Hurran gives a true cinematic feel to this Asylum of the Daleks and a return of Anamaria Marinca (The Last Enemy) as Darla Von Karlsen, the "Dalek puppet" (surely they have no word for "action figure"), would be interesting. Matt Smith's portrayal of the Doctor remains amazing and Nicholas Briggs does a superb job as the voice of the Daleks.

(3) (In French)

Saturday, 8 September 2012


Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahn Polizeï, the German private channel RTL's long-running action/crime drama, started its new fall season on thursday night with its traditional 90-minute "Pilotfilm".

Although the show was launched in 1996, Engel des Todes opens its 32nd series (it is aired in "blocks") and has what you can expect from a series produced by action concept : a lot of destruction, car stunts and explosions. But this one also has Bruce Willis in The Jackal... Well, sort of.

Semir Gerkhan (Erdogan Atalay) has taken a desk job at LKA to spend more time with his family. Ben Jäger (Tom Beck) must patrol with a new partner, Claudia (Nadine Wrietz), when Andri Vladic (Ralf Moeller) - brother of war criminal Djavo Vladic (Manfred Lehmann) - and his men sow mayhem and devastation on the motorway. The wrong time for stratospheric pain in the a** conspiracy theorist Oliver "Sturmi" Sturm (Oliver Pocher) to phone Ben. Semir rapidly works again with Jäger but doesn't tell his wife Andrea (Carina Wiese).

It's a tradition since Das Ende der Welt (the brilliant 200th episode), German comedian Oliver Pocher appears each year as "Sturmi" in the premiere. But this once hilarious local version of Leo Getz in the Lethal Weapon franchise or The Lone Gunmen (The X-Files), managed to become cringy in the tiresome 72 Stunden Angst (2011). Not only for his cop friends Semir and Ben but also for the viewers. Thankfully it's up to the supper baddie played by Ralf Moeller to end his agony (and ours) by offering him one of the worst character exits in the history of Alarm für Cobra 11.

Moeller seems to have a good time playing in Engel des Todes, which also guest stars Bruce Willis... Or at least the very talented Berlin-born actor Manfred Lehmann, who happens to be the German dubbing voice of Bruce Willis (amongst others). This can help when your plot borrows to The Jackal (1997). Oliver Sturm too busy being dead, most of the comic relief of the episode is meant to be provided by actress Nadine Wrietz - who deserves better material.

Written by Ralf Ruland and directed by Franco Tozza, this special of Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahn Polizeï leaves the impression of a lavish rerun. Its ratings are lavish too so Cobra 11 could possibly last forever. Engel des Todes looks like it does already.

In German:

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


The Last Weekend (ITV1) [Spoiler-free review]. From Carnival Films (Downton Abbey, Whitechapel) comes this compelling and well-paced 3 X 60-minute psychological thriller adapted from Blake Morrison's novel by Mick Ford (Single Father) and directed by Jon East.

« The owls are not what they seem. » (Twin Peaks)
« Everybody lies. » (Gregory House)

Two unlikely friends, Ian (Shaun Evans) and Ollie (Rupert Penry-Jones), spend a bank holiday weekend at a lovely Suffolk cottage with their respective partners, Em (Claire Keelan) and Daisy (Genevieve O'Reilly). The former is a disillusioned primary school teacher, the latter a successful barrister. « Every year, or at least when we can, Ollie and I have a three event triathlon for money. Which... which matters. » What should be a relaxing four-day break turns bad when competition between the two university buddies and hidden feelings resurface with tragic consequences.

« I don't want you to feel like I'm hiding things from you, but I don't want you missing out either. Because each piece of information matters. » Three months later Ian narrates and comments what happened in and around the country house, but also his student days when the two men met Daisy for the first time. « All truth is subjective. » Ollie has a secret. Why did he tell Ian that he "could murder someone tomorrow"? And who is Milo (Swedish actor Alexander Karim) who joins the couples with his two daughters?

« You shouldn't be driving.
- It's my last weekend. »

The Last Weekend is a twisted tale of friendship, "love", jealousy and manipulation with welcome shakespearean accents. Facing the always excellent Rupert Penry-Jones as another upper-class lawyer (he's Clive Reader in Silk), Shaun Evans (Endeavour, Martina Cole's The Take) delivers a stunning performance as our guide to this round trip from confusion to tragedy. « Everything's connected, you see. Everything. » The elements spread throughout the three parts lead you to a red colored conclusion but first look who's talking.

The smart cinematography is by the talented Adam Suschitzky. The atmospheric score is by Rob Lane (Hidden, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher). Carnival's Sally Woodward Gentle (Whitechapel) exec produces The Last Weekend, which is distributed globally by NBCUniversal. Christopher Hall (Hidden) is the producer.

« Daisy, Daisy.
Give me your answer, do.
I'm half crazy.
All for the love of you. »
(Harry Dacre, Daisy Bell)

Monday, 3 September 2012


Dallas, the 2012 version of the landmark 80s primetime soap, aired from June to August on American cable channel TNT. It is announced in France for January 2013 on private channel TF1 (after a release this summer on its VoD service in English with subs) and arrives in the U.K. on Channel 5 this Wednesday September 5th.

« Blood may be thicker than water but oil is thicker than both. »

Created by David Jacobs, the original Dallas ran for 356 episodes from 1978 to 1991 on US network CBS. It centered on the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family who owned the 340-acre Southfork ranch and the Ewing Oil company. Its eldest son, the scheming J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), rapidly became the most popular character. He was constantly feuding with his younger and nicer brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and was married to the long-suffering alcoholic Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). Dallas made television history in 1980 with one of its trademark cliffhangers when someone shot J.R. - but he survived. Later a whole season was made a "dream" to allow the return of Bobby from the dead... in his shower.

Finally the devil himself (the great Joel Grey) seemed to succeed in doing what even J.R.'s worst enemy, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), couldn't do as the show bowed out at the end of its fourteenth season - Dallas's spinoff Knots Landing had a similar long run from 1979 to 1993. J.R. and the Ewings, however, came back for two reunion TV movies in 1996 and 1998 before cable channel TNT decided in 2010 to bring back Dallas for a filming the following year. Developed by writer and producer Cynthia Cidre (Cane, The Mambo Kings), the new series is a continuation of its predecessor - although events of the movies are ignored - and stars a new regular cast alongside Dallas nobilities Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman.

Desperate Housewives alumni Jesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson play Christopher and John Ross, respectively Bobby's adopted son and J.R.'s son. The family is about to gather at Southfork for Christopher's wedding with Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo) when John Ross and Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) discover a gusher under the ranch. But Bobby, happily married to Ann (Desperate Housewives regular Brenda Strong) and retired from the oil business to raise cattle, wants no drilling on the 150-year old property. So John Ross complains to daddy, who's silent in a cozy nursing home for clinical depression. Finding the spark he needed to regenerate, J.R. mutters that « Bobby was always a fool ». The Master... Reborn!

« It's better to be old than to be the devil. »

Larry Hagman, 80, is in top shape. J.R. Ewing is more dangerous than ever, the cross between a Shakesperean patriarch, a mafia don (the pre-credit sequence of the third episode) and an alligator. Ken Kercheval, 76, appears in 3 episodes as J.R.'s arch-nemesis Cliff Barnes - now in the casino business - who has a pivotal role in the new series (1). The 2012 Dallas has some of the defects of contemporary American dramas but captures brilliantly the spirit of the original, towards which it shows a lot of respect through a multitude of details (« Nobody gives you power, real power is something you take. ») Viewers need time to get interest for the young generation but their patience is rewarded and Josh Henderson conquers his legitimacy as J.R.'s heir with style.

The new Dallas is entirely and superbly filmed in Texas and of course at the legendary Southfork Ranch. Though shortened the fabulous theme intro by Jerrold Immel is there in a great soundtrack by Rob Cairns. TV buffs will enjoy the presence of Carlos Bernard (24) as ruthless Venezualian businessman Vicente Cano and Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files) as Harris Ryland, Ann Ewing's sneaky ex-husband. This 10-episode series - it is renewed for a second season in 2013 - is a masterclass on how a television classic must be revived, a family saga equivalent of the modern Doctor Who in terms of TV resurrection: a gift to the fans and a classy invitation for a new public. The "new" Dallas? No, Dallas.

Dallas is produced by Cynthia Cidre's prodco Cyntax in association with Warner Horizon Television.

« We've got some catching up to do, son. »

(1) Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) and Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs) also appear.

Monday, 9 July 2012


Nero Wolfe, the literary detective created by American novelist Rex Stout in 1934, has been adapted several times for cinema, radio, and television. The orchid-growing gourmet sleuth, who rarely leaves his house and sends his trusted assistant Archie Goodwin on the crime scenes, is particularly appreciated in Italy.

Between 1969 and 1971,
Italian pubcaster RAI produced ten Nero Wolfe TV movies based on the books published in Italy by Mondadori in its collection I Classici del Giallo. Hugely popular, they starred Tino Buazzelli as Wolfe and Paolo Ferrari as Archie. 43 years later, RAI brings back the detective duo in a 8 X 90-minute series.

Aired between april and may on RAI Uno, the new Nero Wolfe is made by actor Luca Barbareschi's prodco Casanova Multimedia (Zodiaco, the Italian version of the French miniseries Zodiaque) for RAI Fiction. Francesco Pannofino and Pietro Sermonti, who both played in the sitcom Boris (2007-2010) and its subsequent film, are the new Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

« Salve! Mi chiamo Archie Goodwin. »

1959, the great American detective and his assistant arrive in Rome from New York. Wolfe is in a "voluntary exile" because of some disagreements between him and the boss of the FBI. His priorities are to set up a greenhouse for his precious orchids and to find a cook able to satisfy his refined palate, but he rapidly also gets food for his deductive genius. Goodwin provides the field work and gathers information as usual. Nero Wolfe 2012 is adapted from the work of Rex Stout by Piero Bodrato (La Piovra 10), Graziella Giardello, Roberto Jannone and Alessandro Sermonetta. Bodrato is also head writer.

The production from Casanova Multimedia intends to maintain a bond with the beloved previous RAI version although the 1969 adaptation was set in "New York", thanks to insert shots of the town, but filmed by director Giuliana Berlinguer in Italian soundstages. Nero Wolfe keeps the atmosphere of the classic series while transplanting the main characters in the Rome setting for a period crime drama. Not unlike what French detective series Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie did with classic Christie stories set in 1930s and later 1950s France.

This process works rather well, helped by the physique of Francesco Pannofino, the way he portrays Wolfe and his proven teaming with Pietro Sermonti. The 2012 transposition of Nero Wolfe is very pleasant, like its cool and stylish score composed by La Femme Piège (Andrea Toso and Mattia Donna). Other cast members include Andy Luotto as Nanny Laghi, the new chef of the Wolfe household, Giulia Bevilacqua (Distretto di polizia) as reporter Rosa Petrini, and Marcello Mazzarella as Commissioner Graziani.

Saverio D'Ercole is the creative producer and Claudio Gaeta exec produces. Lorenza Bizzarri produces for RAI and Luca Barbareschi is the producer for Casanova Multimedia. La traccia del serpente, the premiere episode, is adapted from the novel Fer de Lance and directed by Riccardo Donna (Nebbie e delitti, Un medico in famiglia).

See also: (Mattia Donna - Official website)

Monday, 11 June 2012


Sinusitis is my new best friend.

Had just the time to finish my DVD review of Wuthering Heights (with Tom Hardy) for our blog in French before my nose and half of my head started to hate me. Can't tell why, I never did a bad review about them or snarked them on Twitter.

Currently working when possible on a DVD review - in French only, sorry - of L'homme qui revient de loin (1972).

Thank you very much for your fidelity, your trust and your patience.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


The Alphabet network has six new dramas for the 2012-2013 season.

- 666 PARK AVENUE: Based on a book by Gabriella Pierce. A young couple is hired to manage a historic appartment building whose owners fulfil all the desires, needs and ambitions of their tenants. Apparently neither the guy nor his girlfriend read Rosemary's Baby and The Devil's Advocate or rented the DVDs.

The great Terry O'Quinn (Lost) is Gavin Doran, the owner, and Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty) plays his wife. At some point the couple has enough and moves to Stepford.

- LAST RESORT: Created by Shawn Ryan (The Shield). The crew of a U.S. ballistic missile sub refuses to use its nuclear weapons on Pakistan without confirmation and is fired upon in return and hit. Now renegades, they set up camp on the exotic island of Sainte Marina and declare themselves an independent nuclear nation as they try to clear their names. Apparently those men and women didn't rent Crimson Tide or The Rock on DVD. More seriously, sounds like a concept for a lavish miniseries or a movie of the week. The pilot looks epic, after all it's directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale).

The excellent Andre Braugher stars as Captain Marcus Chaplin. Robert Patrick guest stars. Amongst the cast there is Dichen Lachman. Hope her neck feels better since Torchwood: Miracle Day.

- MISTRESSES: Starring Alyssa Milano. From the network who brought to you Desperate Housewives comes this "salacious new drama about a group of friends caught in storms of excitement and self-discovery, secrecy and betrayal, and bound by the complex relationships they’ve created".

Adapted from the BBC television series, which says it all. Next, please...

- NASHVILLE: Rivalry between a country music female legend and "the young and sexy future" of the genre. Starring Connie Britton, Hayden Pannetiere (Heroes) and the legendary Powers Boothe. Would certainly be more interesting with a murder and Columbo on the case.

- RED WIDOW: This one is based on Penoza, a Dutch series from Endemol. Because you can't get enough network adaptations of foreign concepts and because it worked so well for Life on Mars or Outrageous Fortune. A woman whose husband is brutally murdered because of an illegal drug business deal faces gangsters and the FBI to learn the truth and protect her children. The presence of Radha Mitchell, Lee Tergesen and Rade Sherbedzija in the cast deserves our attention.

- ZERO HOUR: The wife of a man who publishes a paranormal enthusiast magazine has an antique clock shop. She's abducted and her husband finds a treasure map in one of the shop's clocks. With his two young associates and "a sexy FBI agent" the hero races "against the clock to find his wife and save humanity". Starring Anthony Edwards (ER) as Tom Hanks in The DaVinci Code. The pilot is directed by Pierre Morel (Taken).

Details and trailers: (Zero Hour)

Thursday, 17 May 2012


The Eye network has four new dramas in store for the 2012-2013 season.

- ELEMENTARY: Widely commented since the announcement of the project. English actor Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone) stars as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes in Manhattan alongside Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. Of course this contemporary version of the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle arrives after a gazillion film and TV adaptations, including the acclaimed Sherlock from Steven Moffat and the BBC.

Elementary will inevitably be compared to the Benedict Cumberbatch starrer but networks have a long history with the detective through a consequent number of pilots and TV movies, and even with Holmes influenced shows like House or CBS's The Mentalist. Let's judge this one on its own merits (should there be some) and from the trailer it looks like a typical US procedural with the usual eccentric consultant sleuth. The much talked about idea of a female Watson has been done a couple of times before. Anyway Sherlock itself is not precisely the epitome of originality.

- VEGAS: Inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, "a fourth-generation rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s, a gambling and entertainment mecca emerging from the tumbleweeds". Starring Dennis Quaid as Lamb and Michael Chiklis as Vincent Savino, "a ruthless Chicago gangster who plans to make Las Vegas his own".

McCloud meets Crime Story, or Walker, Texas Ranger minus the martial art chops - and Texas. Jason O'Mara (Terra Nova, Life on Mars US) plays the hero's brother and the title is terrible.

- MADE IN JERSEY: From the network who gave The Good Wife to the world comes another legal drama. This one stars Brit actress Janet Montgomery as Martina Garretti, "a young working-class woman who uses her street smarts to compete among her pedigreed Manhattan colleagues at a prestigious New York law firm". Kyle MacLachlan is Donovan Stark, the firm's founder. Next please...

- GOLDEN BOY: From the network who gave Blue Bloods to the world comes this midseason crime drama about "an ambitious cop who becomes the youngest police commissioner in the history of New York City, and the high personal and professional cost he pays to achieve it." Hey, its CBS.

Details and trailers here:

Sunday, 13 May 2012


This week some US network dramas were axed and today NBC announced its 2012-2013 fall schedule, blah, blah, blah.

« You say you want a revolution. Well you know, We all want to change the world. »

You can find the body count of the finishing season here:

The NBC's 2012-2013 fall schedule is here:

We already have a high concept show and a franchise TV spin-off. Plus ça change, plus...

Monday, 7 May 2012


After the excellent ITV1 crime drama Vera, starring the great Brenda Blethyn, another book series from award-winning author Ann Cleeves is adapted for television. And it looks promising.

The talented Douglas Henshall (The Silence, Collision, Primeval) will star as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez in Shetland, based on Red Bones, the third instalment of Ann Cleeves's Shetland Quartet. This 2 X 60-minute drama is set against the Scottish backdrop of the Shetland Isles and is centered on the character of recently widowed DI Perez, a native Shetlander who returns home after a long time away.

Shetland is due to start filming in Scotland under the direction of Peter Hoar (Silk, Vera) and has been written by David Kane (Taggart, Midnight Man, Rebus). It's a collaboration between ITV Studios, who brought the Vera Stanhope books to TV, and BBC Scotland (Case Histories) for BBC One. Elaine Collins exec produces for ITV Studios and Christopher Aird is the executive producer for the BBC. Sue De Beauvoir is the producer.

Shetland will be aired later in 2012.