Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Andreas Wolff is back. Left dead in the finale of the long-running German crime drama Wolffs Revier, the Hauptkommissar returns in a TV movie called Wolff - Kampf im Revier.

Wolffs Revier ran from 1992 to 2005 on private channel Sat.1 and concluded with a 90-minute special, Wolffs Revier: Angst, in May 2006. Created by the great scriptwriter Karl Heinz Willschrei (Tatort, Der Alte, Ein Fall für Zweï), it starred Jürgen Heinrich as Wolff. Klaus Pönitz was his partner Günther Sawatzki, later replaced by Steven Merting as Tom Borkmann. And Nadine Seiffert was Wolff's daughter Verena. The theme intro was composed by Klaus Doldinger.

« I can't bring people back from the dead. It's not a pretty picture. I DON'T LIKE DOING IT! »

The channel should have followed the wise words of Aladdin's genie instead of commissioning this disappointing Wolff - Kampf im Revier. Heavily injured five years ago, Andreas Wolff endured a coma, a painful rehabilitation, and now he works as a lecturer at the police academy. But he struggles to cope with his everyday life with an addiction to drugs. Worse, he becomes the #1 suspect in a murder case. Actually the idea to age Wolff in full Horst Schimanski mode is really smart. Except that the excellent Jürgen Heinrich is treated like a guest star in the revival of his own show.

Intended as a pilot, the TV movie is mainly centered on Kommissar Marck (Stephan Luca), a former student of Woff, and his new partner Vicki (Nadeshda Brennicke). With a little time and less running, Marck could certainly do well in one of the Tatort series from ARD. The problem is that Kampf im Revier is "sold" with Wolff's name in front of it. At least Heinrich, rather impressive in the action sequences, has some fun doing the White Rabbit. Back as Verena Wolff, quasi-mute Nadine Seiffert has less luck in a nod to the Saw movies.

Produced by Producers at Work for Sat.1, Wolff - Kampf im Revier is written by Anna Dokoupilova (Der letzte Bulle, Doktor Martin) with additional script work by Annette Simon, and directed by Christian Alvart. A sour return with a sour ending, anyway it seems ratings will spare us a series.

In German: (Ratings)

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Hustle, the BBC One hit drama created by Tony Jordan and launched in 2004, returned on Friday for the premiere of its eighth and final series. Original cast members Adrian Lester, Robert Glenister, Robert Vaughn and Rob Jarvis are back with Matt Di Angelo and Kelly Adams - aboard since series five.

After making money from the London 2012 Olympics, Mickey Stone and his team of conmen have a new mark found by Albert: Dexter Gold, a fast-talking, smooth-dressing and ruthless "cash for gold" businessman. His gold exchange activity is designed to part the old and vulnerable from their treasures in return for a pittance but Dexter is also a middle man for stolen gold bullion. He likes war movies so the grifters pose as a rogue army unit and convince him they have some of the gold of Colonel Gadaffi.

« When you think about it, we're a bit like Robin Hood.
- Yeah, well, we do take from the rich.
- Only instead of giving to the poor...
- ... We buy clothes. »

A suprisingly weak opener, written by Tony Jordan and directed by Alrick Riley, in which the talent of guest star Paterson Joseph (Survivors) is wasted as he plays one the most caricatural adversaries of Mickey's gang. The team depreciates its own standards by targeting a 21st century Nellie Oleson. They are also so self-conscious it recalls the darkest hours of the fourth series. The fate of Eddie's beloved photo of footballer Ian Rush is painfully stretched as a "subplot". And the reappearance of Dexter near the end of the episode is non-necessary and far-fetched.

It's nice to see Hustle back for this last run. We'll miss our favourite con artists, let's hope this was an accident. Next week the great Bill Bailey is back as Cyclops, the character he played in the fifth series.

Monday, 9 January 2012


SOKO Leipzig members Ina and Jan are investigating an apparent suicide while their boss Hajo Trautzschke awaits the arrival of his friend Jack Meadows, a retired British cop. In a bar, Jack spots a familiar face from a case unsolved in London.

Aired since 2001 on German pubcaster ZDF, UFA Fernsehproduktion's "Krimi-Serie" SOKO Leipzig is one of the spin-off series of SOKO 5113, launched in 1978. In 2008, ITV and ZDF joined forces for a crossover between SOKO Leipzig and the long-running police drama The Bill, produced by Talkback Thames (owned by RTL Group via Fremantle Media) (1). Two versions were filmed simultaneously by British director Robert Del Maestro, with a script jointly written by Frank Koopmann & Roland Heep and Steve Bailie. This special, in which Hajo Trautzchke (Andreas Schmidt-Schaller) went to London with his colleague Ina Zimmermann (Melanie Marschke), aired first on ITV1 in november 2008 as a two-parter called Proof of Life.

« Einmal Cop, immer Cop. »

In september 2009, the German version, titled Entführung in London ("Abduction in London"), aired as a special feature-length episode of SOKO Leipzig. The Bill was axed by ITV1 in 2010 after 27 years but one of its characters, Jack Meadows, played by Simon Rouse, is now retired and visiting Leipzig for a 90-minute special of SOKO Leipzig. In Die schwarze Witwe ("The Black Widow"), aired by ZDF on December 30, 2011, Jack arrives in his own Cessna - called "Jack's Sparrow"! - to spend a few days with his friend Hajo. Meanwhile, Trautzchke's colleagues Zimmermann and Jan Maybach (Marco Girnt) investigate the death of Leo Karmann, a geologist who apparently threw himself out of the window. But they clash with LKA detectives Stravinsky (Robert Dölle) and Müller (Michael Schenk).

As Jack Meadows is having a drink with Hajo, he sees a face from the past: Karen Bishop, suspected of having murdered her husband in London. But in Germany the woman is known as Irene Karmann (Anica Dobra), and she's the wife of the dead geologist. Is Meadows really visiting a friend or is he in Leipzig for some unfinished business? Why is he carrying a gun? And will his friendship with Hajo Trautzchke be jeopardized by Irene? « Schuldig oder nicht schuldig. Das ist die Frage, » in this brilliant episode written by SOKO Leipzig scribes Markus Hoffmann (SK Kölsch, Alarm für Cobra 11) and Uwe Kossmann, and directed by Robert Del Maestro. Del Maestro worked on several SOKO Leipzig since Entführung in London/Proof of life and is undoubtedly the ideal director for this reunion.

Past the oddity of hearing Simon Rouse dubbed in German with an English accent, the actor is excellent and shares great scenes with a thespian of Andreas Schmidt-Schaller's caliber. Jack Meadows fits naturally in the "Krimi" atmosphere, and retirement suits him well enough to believe that he would deserve his own special as a private investigator. The music is composed by Andreas Hoge and the cinematography is by Christian Paschmann and Gareth Hughes. SOKO Leipzig: Die schwarze Witwe is produced by UFA Fernsehproduktion Niederlassung Leipzig and Norbert Sauer for ZDF and ZDF Enterprises. Henriette Lippold, Norbert Sauer and Jörg Winger are the producers.

(1) From 1994 to 2006, German private channel RTL even aired a local adaptation of The Bill called Die Wache.

Friday, 6 January 2012


January promises to be a good month for French-speaking fans of Doctor Who. The books featuring the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond will be soon available in French language, thanks to Parisian publisher Milady (Assassin's Creed, X-Files, etc.)

The programme of Milady for the Doctor Who license looks very ambitious. They intend to release twelve adventures of Eleven and Amy and two with the Ninth Doctor during the whole year 2012. Three books are announced for January 20:

- Apollo 23 (Apollo 23) by Justin Richards.
- La nuit des humains (Night of the Humans) by David Llewelyn.
- L'armée oubliée (The Forgotten Army) by Brian Minchin.

Horloge nucléaire (Nuclear Time) by Oli Smith, and La chasse au mirage (The Glamour Chase) by Gary Russell, should follow in February. The two adventures of Nine announced are Rien qu'humain (Only Human) and Les voleurs de rêves (The Stealers of Dreams) - for September and November 2012, respectively.

In French:!/MiladyFR

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


1965, in a Midlands town. Young Detective Constable Endeavour Morse is writing his letter of resignation from the police force but the case of a missing schoolgirl brings him back to Oxford.

Endeavour, the two-hour prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse series (thirty-three episodes from 1987 to 2000), marks the 25th anniversary of the very first episode of the popular crime drama starring the beloved John Thaw as the novelist Colin Dexter's creation. Kevin Whately, who co-starred as his sidekick Robbie Lewis, has his own spin-off since 2006 with Lewis - known as Inspector Lewis in the US. Shaun Evans (Teachers, Martina Cole's The Take) has the daunting task to play a younger version of the iconic role in this one-off drama aired yesterday night on ITV1.

Endeavour has the necessary blessing of Colin Dexter, who first wrote a short story with young Morse for the Daily Mail in 2008, and appears in his traditional cameo. The script takes a host of precautions to conquer fans with astute references and nods cleverly brought, starting with the car - not yet burgundy. It's penned by Russell Lewis, whose work on Morse, Kavanagh QC (with John Thaw) and Lewis confers him an indisputable legitimacy, and it confronts the disillusioned young copper to apparently respectable members of the Oxford community with their weaknesses and passions.

Lewis and director Colm McCarthy (Injustice) succeed with the re-creation of the familiar environment from the Inspector Morse and Lewis dramas. But as good as Shaun Evans is in capturing manners and attitudes of the character, it takes time to get used to the idea that this Doctor Who-ish young man is the same Morse we all knew. And Endeavour is essentially the sidekick of DI Fred Thursday, played by the talented Roger Allam who steals the episode in the role of Morse's mentor. He already deserves a spin-off series as the missing link between Maigret and Gene Hunt.

Guest stars include James Bradshaw as a younger Dr Max DeBryn (1), the excellent Patrick Malahide, and Charlie Creed-Miles who shined last summer in Injustice. With 6.8m viewers and a 28% share (ITV+1 included), a subsequent series could easily follow what was announced initially as a one-off. Although the young Endeavour Morse will of course have to be very rapidly less mousy to be really interesting. The paradoxical challenge of Endeavour is to find its own style in the shadow of the portrayal of Morse by the great John Thaw.

Like in Morse and Lewis, the sublime music of Barrington Pheloung is a character in its own right. Endeavour is a co-production of Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece in association with ITV Studios.

(1) Played by Peter Woodthrope in Inspector Morse.

Monday, 2 January 2012


Sherlock - A Scandal in Belgravia (Series Two, Episode One). Sherlock and John are summoned by the highest authorities for a very delicate case involving Irene Adler, a shadowy character who has the power to compromise a very important personality.

Sherlock, the BBC 2010 hit from Doctor Who supremo Steven Moffat and actor/scriptwriter Mark Gatiss, is back since yesterday on BBC One for a second 3 X 90-minute series. This modern take on the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was launched during summer 2010 with impressive ratings, a warm reception from the public, and a concert of critic praises celebrating Moffat and Gatiss's "re-imagining". Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr John Watson, as they were left in the swimming pool cliffhanger of The Great Game, facing the nefarious Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott).

Hailed as the second best thing since the invention of running water, the first series of Sherlock was a glorified British answer to The Mentalist. You had to come back from Gilligan's Island and have been deprived of the gazillion repeats of Monk to buy without a smile Sherlock's « I'm a consulting detective. I'm the only one in the world. I invented the job. » You had also to taste the on-screen text and graphics showing phone messages and even morphing Sherlock's deduction into an advert for a credit card. A Scandal in Belgravia premieres the new series as an update by Moffat himself of A Scandal in Bohemia and its central character, Irene Adler, "the woman" in Holmes's life.

Played here by Lara Pulver, seen this autumn in the final series of Spooks, she now walks in the shoes of Lady Heather - the recurring character from CSI (Melinda Clarke), as a high-end professional dominatrix known in some circles as "The Woman". Sherlock's services are required by his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), on the behalf of the government, to handle a delicate situation where she could compromise a young female member of the monarchy. But Holmes and Watson have to face the most glamorous adversary, CIA agents, international terrorism, and a X-Files type state conspiracy where Mycroft does a Cigarette-smoking man tribute act.

Director Paul McGuigan brings back the on-screen text and adds a deduction sequence which will sound familiar to the fans of Hustle, but credits must be given to him and director of photography Fabian Wagner for the cinematic feel of this episode. Some may prefer the less obvious game of seduction by Gayle Hunnicutt as Irene in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984) and Andrew Scott may not fit the traditional image of Moriarty - which is precisely why he's a smart choice. The episode sometimes stretches to reach its duration and Steven Moffat, who knows how to pen good lines, cannot resist a few easy tricks of the kind he uses in his Who finales.

Kudos to the BBC for starting the new TV year with a drama eagerly awaited by its fans. Though a few of us will be allowed to search something else for the second best thing since the invention of running water. Sherlock is produced by Hartswood Films for BBC Wales (with US pubcaster PBS's Masterpiece).