Saturday, 28 December 2013

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Detective Inspector Richard Poole, of London's Met Police, is assigned to the Caribbean island of Saint Marie. Except he hates the sun, sea and beach sand. Poole can't stand heat either though his perennial dark suits won't help.

His partner, Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey, is French and as spontaneous as he's uptight. He must share a modest beach house with a lizard. But when death comes to paradise, Richard Poole is the best to solve crimes. As long as he can get a cup of tea.

« La Manche.
- Yeah, that's what I said. The English Channel.
- Why is it English?
- I don't know really, but it's called the English Channel. »

Series 2 of Death in Paradise (Meurtres au paradis in French) is available in France on DVD from Koba Films since December 4. Launched in 2011, the BBC One hit crime comedy drama stars Ben Miller (Primeval, Johnny English) as DI Richard Poole and French actress Sara Martins (Pigalle, la nuit) as DS Camille Bordey. Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf) and Gary Carr return as officers Dwayne Myers and Fidel BestDon Warrington (Commissioner Patterson) and Élizabeth Bourgine (Catherine) are back too.

Death in Paradise was created by Red Planet Prize finalist Robert Thorogood (it's his first broadcast credit). Series 2 is produced by Red Planet Pictures with Kudos Film and Television, for the BBC. The first  8X60-minute series was a joint British-French production with Atlantique Productions and France Télévisions. Death in Paradise is filmed in the French overseas region of Guadeloupe (doubling as the fictional Saint Marie island) with the support of the Region of Guadeloupe and the Film commission of Guadeloupe.

« But... who'd want to murder a nun?
- Anyone who'd seen The Sound Of Music more than once? »

This is Caribbean Cluedo all over again for the "quintessential English" sleuth. The owner of a plantation is found with a machete in his back. Did a novice nun smoke her last cigarette? The world's most expensive tea is the key to a luxury clinic mystery. A pirate treasure hunt goes bad. Camille's best friend is poisoned and the husband of a strangled woman is Richard's former foe at the Met. Someone wants to frame a hurricane for the murder of a meteorologist. Will Richard go back to London and will Fidel become a sergeant?

« You do know about the curse?
- Yes. Although for the time being I have decided to eliminate all 400-year-old pirates from our enquiries. »

Stephanie Beacham, Michael Brandon, James Murray and Hannah Spearritt (who both played with Ben Miller in Primeval) and Julie Graham are amongst the guest cast of those old school but astute whodunnits. Imagine Murder, She Wrote with nicer locations and humour - thanks mainly to Miller and Don Warrington. No wonder why its ingenious formula for fun escapism brought Death in Paradise high ratings in the UK since its start, and made it a global favourite amongst detective drama buffs.

« Dwayne, Fidel. I want you to pick everyone up. Well, everyone who's still alive anyway. »

Koba Films releases the eight one-hour episodes of this second series in a 3-disc DVD set with the original dialogue track (available with optional French subtitles) and the rather unfortunate French dubbing. In April 2013 Ben Miller announced that he would leave Death in Paradise during its third series, due to arrive in January 2014 on BBC One. He's replaced by Kris Marshall as DI Humphrey Goodman. French fans can also enjoy the case files of DI Richard Poole in a DVD set containing the first two series.

The soundtrack includes ska and reggae standards and original music by British composer Magnus Fiennes.

Death in Paradise - Series One (French Region 2 DVD):

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Avril has a walk on a cliff near the seaside when a man falls. Before dying he tells her: « Pourquoi pas Martin? » She finds the photograph of a beautiful woman near him and asks for help to Commissaire Laurence. Later someone tries to murder her.

« Toujours aussi aimable, Laurence. Hein?
- Toujours aussi pignouf, Avril. »

Pourquoi pas Martin? is the fourth episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("Agatha Christie's little murders") with the Laurence/Avril detective duo in the late 1950s north of France. It is adapted from Agatha Christie's Why Didn't They Ask Evans? by scriptwriter Sylvie Simon and directed by Marc Angelo. Samuel Labarthe, of the Comédie-Française, plays the cynical, uber elegant, and misogynist commissaire Swan Laurence. Broken hearts columnist and wannabe reporter Alice Avril is played by Blandine Bellavoir (Maison close).

« Tout le monde a envie de vous étrangler, n'en doutez pas. Seulement là quelqu'un l'a fait sans hésiter. »

There's now a TV set in Laurence's office and his secretary, Marlène (Élodie Frenck), is an avid viewer of Le petit train rebus interlude (« Oh zut! J'ai raté un wagon! »). The commissaire doesn't want to be disturbed during his picnic with a lady friend. Alice goes undercover, a little boy is threatened by a "goblin", danger's ahead and love is in the air... but not between our two sleuths. Pourquoi pas Martin? is overall a decent and fun episode of Les petits meurtres with the familiar cocktail of comedy and suspense, great dialogues, a little action, and Marlène even saves the day.

« Vous êtes une source intarissable d'emmerdements.
- Mais. J'ai rien fait.
- Une tête sans cervelle, un petit pois dans le crâne, un caillou dans le ciboulot. Un neurone et demi dans le carafon et encore je suis large. Une catastrophe ambulante. Mon pire cauchemar même éveillé. »

Samuel Labarthe delivers Laurence's deadpan one-liners (« Mais non, sa soeur. Personne n'a envie d'épouser une femme pareille. ») with this voice which makes George Clooney sound so cool when he dubs him in French. Blandine Bellavoir and Élodie Frenck are excellent. The guest cast is fine: Alix Poisson, Charlie Dupont, Didier Vinson, etc. Of course, the sets look lavish and the locations are gorgeous as always. Marc Angelo's direction often has the feel of a 1960s British TV series like The Avengers or The Saint.

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Escazal Films with the support of Pictanovo, Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Sophie Révil is the producer. The characters of Laurence and Avril were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is by film and TV composer Stéphane Moucha. France 2 will air Pourquoi pas Martin? on Friday, December 27.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


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 this week on pubcaster France 2 for a third series of two feature-length episodes

« Je te dépose où?
- Comme avant. À côté d'un cadavre. »

In La nuit du naufrage, an adaptation of the book Deadlight, Capitaine Paul Winckler (Bruno Solo) is discharged from the hospital after his surgery and should be on sick leave. « Allez, fais-moi rêver. Je veux du macchabée, je suis en manque. » Instead he follows Capitaine Richard Faraday (Jean-Marc Barr) on the case of a skeleton discovered in the shipwreck of L'Accolade, a trawler sunk in a storm four years ago. This skeleton belongs to one of its crew members presumed swept away by a wave. Later, the Ukrainian security guard of a fish factory is found murdered at home with a baseball bat.

« Alors, Lulu. Toujours au chômage?
- Oui, mais c'est provisoire.
- C'est la vie qui est provisoire.
- Alors à la vie. »

Once again, Deux flics sur les docks successfully takes the atmosphere of Graham Hurley's Portsmouth-based DI Faraday novels to the Haute-Normandie port town of Le Havre. La nuit du naufrage is adapted by Olivier Prieur & Bernard Marié and written by Olivier Prieur. Bruno Solo brings his customary brilliance to the ever fatalistic and desperately cynical Winckler. Jean-Marc Barr's subtle portrayal of the empathic Faraday is given occasions to shine under the cliffs of Aquacaux.  

« Je crois que Winckler est sur le coup.
- Jusqu'à nouvel ordre Winckler est sur le coup des indemnités journalières de la sécurité sociale, Fabian. »

Liza Manili is back as Lieutenant Julie Fabian. Mata Gabin plays Lucie Dardenne, Guillaume Viry is police computer expert "Bill Gates" and Jean-Marie Hallégot is Faraday's deaf-mute son Lulu (« Alors Bernardo. On veut rêgler le sort du tireur fou à la place de Zorro? »). Emmanuel Salinger returns as local entrepreneur and mobster Bazza Swaty in a short but nice scene about Bazza's friendship with Paul. The guest cast is perfect, as usual, with a special mention to Thierry Samitier (Nos chers voisins) as Jacques Kilian and Jean-Pierre Becker as Bernard Le Saoult.

Blood on the Docks is produced by Gétévé (Zodiak France) and France Télévisions in association with B Media 2012 - Backup Media, with the support of Région Haute-Normandie. It is distributed by Zodiak Rights (The Returned, Being Human). Jacques Salles and Christian Charret are the producers. Muriel Paradis exec produces. Philippe Miller is the composer. Directed by Edwin Baily, the superb Deadlight caught 3.777.000 viewers (15.4 %) and the third place against NCIS on M6 and the French version of MasterChef on TF1.

Deux flics sur les docks/Blood on the Docks is shown in the US on MHz Worldview. Next friday France 2 will air Coups sur coups, adapted from The Take. (Ratings)

See also:

Friday, 29 November 2013


Detective Inspector Richard Poole, of London's Met Police, is assigned to the Caribbean island of Saint Marie. He's the best for solving crimes except he can't stand sun, sea, sand and heat.

His police station is resourceless. His partner,
Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey, is French, and he must share a modest beach house with a lizard.

Series one of Death in Paradise (Meurtres au paradis in French), the BBC One hit crime comedy drama launched in 2011, is now available in France on DVD thanks to Koba Films.

« Look, don't get me wrong. I'm sure the Caribbean's great. And beach holidays and snorkeling. But I can't work here, let alone live here. I don't know if anybody noticed but there's a tree growing through my front room! »

Death in Paradise was created by Robert Thorogood, a Red Planet Prize finalist (it's his first broadcast credit). Named after Red Planet Pictures, the company of writer/producer Tony Jordan (Hustle), the prize is an annual search for new TV writing talents. The eight 60-minute episodes of this first series are a joint British-French production from Red Planet Pictures and Atlantique Productions with Kudos Film and Television, for the BBC and France Télévisions. Death in Paradise stars English comedian and actor Ben Miller (Primeval, Johnny English) as DI Richard Poole and French actress Sara Martins (Pigalle, la nuit) as DS Camille Bordey.

« I'm half French.
- There's no such thing as half French. »

Poole arrives on the (fictional) Caribbean island of Saint Marie from London to investigate the death of the Honoré police chief, found in the locked panic room of a Brit expat's mansion. Literally "unsuited" to the local way of life, he hates the sun, sea and beaches. The island is not the ideal workplace when you rely heavily on computer equipment, forensics or a laser tape measure. And Richard's methods are incompatible with the Saint Marie style of policing (« Pen-pusher. This is not going to go well.») Officer Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules, Cat in Red Dwarf) fraternizes with suspects and Officer Fidel Best (Gary Carr) shows his expertise in goats. Though they both prove to be dedicated and effective.

« It's 100 degrees in here and you're standing there in a suit and tie talking about duty solicitors!
- I'm a British policeman.
-  No?! You're kidding me! »

The "quintessential English" Richard Poole (« I'm a police officer and I want a cup of tea. ») must team up with top-notch French investigator Camille Bordey. Her mother, Catherine (Élizabeth Bourgine) has a bar on the island and doesn't get along with him. The uptight detective and his partner, more spontaneous, form an unlikely pair (« You are the most annoying man I've ever met. ») but Commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington) wants to keep him. Poole has a knack for solving complicated murder cases: a bride is killed with a harpoon on her wedding day, a voodoo priestess predicts her own murder, a band's frontman dies in a stage coffin, etc.

« Anyone know where the word alibi comes from? No? Latin. Somewhere else. Locative of the word "alias"... to pretend to be someone you're not!»

Death in Paradise has an ingenious formula for fun escapism with its fish out of water sleuth in the Caribbean. The excellent Ben Miller plays a Doc Martin version of Primeval's Lester, CGI lizard included, surrounded by an impressive list of guest stars (Rupert Graves, Frances Barber, Paterson Joseph, Miranda Raison, Colin Salmon et al.) Think Murder, She Wrote with nicer locations (the series is filmed in Guadeloupe) and humour. The plots are old school whodunnits often playing with the cliches of the genre. No wonder why the series deservedly became a global favourite amongst detective drama buffs.

« French, great. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse. »

France 2 aired Series 1 and 2 back to back during summer 2013, with a different first series intro, episodes out of order and an unfortunate dubbing. Pubcasters in the French overseas departments and territories actually aired Death in Paradise months before. Atlantique Productions and France Télévisions didn't co-produce the second series. Koba Films releases the first series in a 3-disc DVD set with its original dialogue track (available with optional French subtitles) and its French dubbing.

Death in Paradise is produced with the support of the Region of Guadeloupe and the Film commission of Guadeloupe. The soundtrack includes ska and reggae standards  and original music by British composer Magnus Fiennes. Series 2 will be released on DVD in France next week. (In French) (In French)

Monday, 18 November 2013


The commissaire Swan Laurence receives a letter from the rich Émilie Longuet, owner of the Filatures Longuet, in which she writes that someone wants to murder her. Except she died three months ago from jaundice and the letter was posted two days before he received it.

Alice Avril is getting bored with her broken hearts' column for La Voix du Nord and learns that commissaire Laurence ordered the exhumation of Émilie Longuet. But there's more annoying for Laurence than the presence of Avril: his whimsical mother Alexina is a close friend of Geneviève Ranson, Émilie's sole heiress.

« Et dire qu'il faut que je vienne dans un cimetière pour te voir. La prochaine fois ce sera pour mon enterrement à moi.
- Oh tu ne crois tout de même pas que je serai là à ton enterrement. »

Commissaire Swan Laurence (Samuel Labarthe, of the Comédie-Française) and reporter Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) return this friday on  France 2 for a brand new episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("Agatha Christie's little murders"). This period crime comedy/drama 90-minute series, launched in 2009, is a French adaptation of Agatha Christie's stories with two local sleuths instead of  her detectives.

In March 2013, Laurence and Avril succeeded the beloved crime-solving duo Larosière and Lampion, played by Antoine Duléry and Marius Colucci, and Les petits meurtres switched eras from the 1930s to the 1950s. Adapted from Dumb Witness by scriptwriter Thierry Debroux and directed by Marc Angelo, Témoin muet is the third Laurence-Avril after the enjoyable but transitional Jeux de glaces and the more familiar (and excellent) Meurtre au champagne.

« Attendez, j'ai découvert un truc vachement intéressant!
- Écoutez Avril, il est vachement tard et j'ai vachement pas envie de passer la soirée avec vous. »

Cynical and misogynist Laurence (« Je parle au seul neurone qui a osé s'aventurer dans votre cerveau. ») is back with his elegant suits, his chic Facel-Vega Facellia sports car and his stereotypical scatterbrain blonde secretary Marlène (Élodie Frenck). Now viewers are getting to know his eccentric mother, Alexina Laurence. She pretends she can communicate with the dead, wants her son to marry, to give her grandchildren, and is a (very) close friend of a chief suspect.

« Vous étiez déjà une plaie, Avril. Mais si en plus vous commencez à ressembler à ma mère... »

Alexina is played with her usual absolute brilliance by the great Françoise Fabian alongside classy and tongue-in-cheek Samuel Labarthe, who delivers Laurence's one-liners with a visible delectation (« Bon, les harpies. Vous avez deux options: vous quittez cet appartement par la porte, ou par la fenètre. » ) Blandine Bellavoir, who found her feet with Meurtre au champagne as a more "lampionesque" Avril, is perfect. The guest cast is very good, particularly Isabelle De Hertogh as Bella and Vincent Schmitt as Georges.

Témoin muet matches the best episodes of the Larosière/Lampion era. Thierry Debroux's script contains everything the fans of France's answer to Midsomer Murders could wish and even a little more, while keeping the spirit of Agatha Christie's work. The sets look as lavish as ever (Laurence's appartment) and the locations are splendid (château de Steenbourg). Let's hope Alexina will become a regular or semi-regular character.

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Escazal Films with the support of Pictanovo, Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of TV5 Monde and France Télévisions. Sophie Révil is the producer. The characters of Laurence and Avril were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is by film and TV composer Stéphane Moucha (Das Leben der Anderen).

« Mais est-ce qu'il existe au moins quelqu'un que vous ne détestez pas?
- Jean-Sébastien Bach.»

In French:

See also:

Friday, 11 October 2013


When Margaret Thatcher's tenure as UK Prime minister comes to an end, Henry Collingridge becomes the Conservative Party leader and the new PM. Francis Urquhart, the party's Chief Whip, expects a top job in the new Cabinet but Collingridge maintains him in the Whip's office.

Encouraged by his wife, Urquhart decides to bring down Collingridge and ensure his way to the 10 Downing Street by any means. Conspiracy, manipulation and even worse.

« What, me? Oh no, no, no. I'm the Chief Whip, merely a functionary. I keep the troops in line. I put a bit of stick around. I make them jump. And I shall, of course, give my absolute loyalty to whoever emerges as my leader. »

House of Cards, the 1990 BBC political thriller is at last available on DVD in France thanks to Koba Films. Directed by Paul Seed, this four 55-minute part drama serial was adapted by scriptwriter Andrew Davies from a book by Michael Dobbs. Dobbs, an ex-advisor to Margaret Thatcher and former Tory official, crafted a realistic novel about intrigue and corruption behind the scenes of post-Thatcher British politics while she was still in charge. The serialisation stars Ian Richardson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Francis Urquhart, whose job as Chief Whip is to enforce discipline of the governing party in the House of Commons.

« Nothing lasts forever. Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday. »

After the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, ruling Tories need a leader. The decent and popular Henry Collingridge (David Lyon) emerges as the new PM and Francis Urquhart, who supported him, expects to join the Cabinet. But after the general election, won by the Conservatives with a reduced majority, Collingridge rejects Urquhart's proposals for a reshuffle including his promotion. Francis's wife Elizabeth (Diane Fletcher) suggests to her husband that he should take the leadership from Henry Collingridge by doing "whatever is necessary". And so he does.

Francis Urquhart quietly moves his unwitting pawns: the coke-addicted party publicity man Roger O'Neill (Miles Anderson), junior political reporter Mattie Storin (Susannah Harker), the ultraconservative Foreign Secretary Patrick Woolton (Malcolm Tierney), even media mogul Ben Landless (Kenny Ireland). No 10's power is slowly undermined, Collingridge is clueless and badly hit through his alcoholic brother Charles (James Villiers). Pawns can be sacrificed, not only figuratively. For House of Cards, Michael Wearing (Edge of Darkness), then Head of Serials at the BBC, advised Andrew Davies to "tweak" the book a bit and "think Jacobean".

« Quite a little touch of Richard of Gloucester at Baynard's Castle.
- "Shine out, fair sun!" »

Davies made his Francis Urquhart address the audience directly, like Richard III. He considerably developed the character of Francis's wife, called Miranda in the novel, as a modern Lady Macbeth. He also modified Urquhart's relationship with Mattie (« There are some things a gentleman never discusses. ») and reversed the ending. Richardson's Shakesperean stage background and his collaboration with Susannah Harker in Troubles (1988) served the dramatisation. Paul Seed's direction, ideas from producer Ken Riddington and the music of Jim Parker contributed as well to highlight Andrew Davies's substantial changes.

« Not feeling guilty, I hope. If you have pangs of pity, crush them now. Grind them under your heel like old cigar butts. I've done the country a favour. »

House of Cards aired on BBC One from 18 November to 9 December 1990 and rightfully joined political TV classics like Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (1980-1988) and A Very British Coup (1988). Michael Dobbs's accuracy was unexpectedly echoed when a Tory challenge to leadership lead to Margaret Thatcher announcing her resignation on November 22. The portrayal of Urquhart by the amazing Ian Richardson and his "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." left their mark on popular culture. Dobbs brought back his scheming politician in To Play The King and The Final Cut, respectively adapted in 1993 and 1995.

Richardson won a Best Actor TV BAFTA in 1991 for House of Cards. Susannah Harker was nominated for Best actress. The rest of the cast delivered equally solid performances. Especially the fantastic Diane Fletcher, Miles Anderson, Alphonsia Emmanuel (Penny Guy) and James Villiers - very moving as Charles. The excellent Colin Jeavons returned as Tim Stamper (« If I had a dog like that I'd shoot it. ») in To Play The King. In France, pubcaster France 3 aired House of Cards in the 90s as Château de Cartes. Stage, TV and movie actor Bernard Dhéran lent his voice and his talent to Ian Richardson.

« Why should I yearn to be everybody's daddy? »

Koba Films releases House of Cards in a 2-disc DVD set with its original dialogue track, available with optional French subtitles done for the occasion, and its French dubbing. An audio commentary of Episode 1 by Andrew Davies, Ian Richardson and Ken Riddington is provided as bonus material. A 13-episode American adaptation of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey premiered last February on the streaming service Netflix. (In French)

See also (Spoilers):

Monday, 23 September 2013


Melbourne, 1928. The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher is a young, beautiful and wealthy socialite with many skills and talents. This free-spirited and intrepid lady also has a knack for solving crimes. Phryne (pronounced "Fry-knee") cannot resist investigating murder mysteries with her maid Dot, cabbies Cec and Bert, and her best friend Dr "Mac".

Her aunt, Prudence Stanley, disapproves her dashing lifestyle while DI Jack Robinson and Constable Collins are bewildered by her regular intrusions on crime scenes.

Based on the books by Kerry Greenwood, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is an Australian period detective drama launched in February 2012 on pubcaster ABC1 and starring Essie Davis (The Slap, Cloudstreet) in the title role. Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger (East of Everything) developed the adaptation within their prodco Every Cloud Productions for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is aired in the U.K. on Alibi and in France on France 3 as Miss Fisher enquête. The 13 one-hour episodes of its first series are now available there on DVD from Koba Films

« Miss Fisher, I appreciate your curiosity for crime.
- Well, every lady needs a hobby. »

Phryne Fisher comes back in Australia after years abroad to ensure that Murdoch Foyle (Nicholas Bell), whom she holds responsible for the disappearance of her younger sister, stays in prison. Her return to the Melbourne society alongside her reputation-conscious aunt Prudence (the great British actress Miriam Margolyes) starts with a luncheon canceled because of a suspicious death. Soon Phryne is confronted with illegal abortionists, a cocaine smuggling ring, and a handsome Russian dancer. Always ahead of Detective Inspector John "Jack" Robinson (Nathan Page, seen in Underbelly) and Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), The Honourable Miss Fisher loves a mystery and becomes a private detective.

« Another murder, no less.
- Let's not make a habit of it. »

« I haven't taken anything seriously since 1918. » Her devil-may-care attitude hides a strong sense of justice and a great generosity both built on her own tough background. She hires working-class devout Catholic Dorothy "Dot" Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) as her maid though Dot is afraid of electricity and the telephone! She wants to adopt the young and street smart Jane (Ruby Rees-Wemyss) and enlists communist cabbie duo Albert "Bert" Johnson (Travis McMahon) and Cecil "Cec" Yates (Anthony Sharpe). Phryne's aptly named butler Mr Tobias Butler (Richard Bligh) manages the household to perfection. Dr. Elizabeth "Mac" Macmillan (Tammy Macintosh) is her confidante.

« Where would you like it? In the head or in the heart? The head's better for you, but more mess for me. Though I'm running low on ammunition and I'd rather save my last bullet. »

On the Ballarat train, at the hottest dancehall in town, in a theatre, a factory, or driving her own Hispano-Suiza motor car, nothing can stop the daring Miss Fisher. With a budget reportedly of $1 million per episode, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries spares no expense to recreate Melbourne in the late 1920s. The costumes (around 120 just for Phryne) and sets are lavish, the locations are classy. Astute visual effects add a luxury liner or erase modern skyline when necessary. The musical ambiance of the era is brought by the presence of Ben Selvin, Duke Ellington or Fletcher Henderson in the soundtrack. But also by original compositions like the theme intro by the series' music composer Greg J. Walker or Mr Music Man by Harry James Angus (Jack Irish).

« Obviously her blue period.
- Blue seems to have been her colour till the bitter end. »

Those ingredients would be enough to enjoy the comfort of those cosy whodunits adapted by head writer Deb Cox and her team (Elizabeth Coleman, Michael Miller, etc) but Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries delivers more. Essie Davis is stunning and reminds of Diana Rigg in The Avengers and The Mrs Bradley Mysteries. She and the excellent Nathan Page make the rivalry/attraction relationship between Phryne and "You might as well call me Jack" worthy of the Golden age of Hollywood. Although not serialized, the series has enough secondary storylines to gain the fidelity of viewers: the blossoming romance of Dot and Hugh, the family matters of Lin Chung (Philippe Sung) - Phryne's lover, and above all, the Murdoch Foyle arc.

« A bit of hush now, ladies and gents! Feel the spirit move. Will she be there or won't she, folks? Can we bring her back, or have we lost her to the great black beyond? »

The three episodes concluding this pleasant first series are surprisingly effective, taking the characters on a little (but not too much) darker territory against the sinister Foyle. Series 1 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is in a 4-disc DVD set with its French dubbing and, most fortunately, the original dialogue track - subtitled in French or not. Bonus material includes (among other things) interviews with the cast, Kerry Greenwood, and the crew or featurettes about the train and the Hispano-Suiza. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is produced in association with Screen Australia and Film Victoria. It is distributed by All3Media International. Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox, Carole Sklan and Christopher Gist exec produce. Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox produce.

The gorgeous title sequence is from Plus Films. Miranda Otto (Cashmere Mafia), Wendy Hughes (Return to Eden), Peter O'Brien, and Joel Tobeck (Tangle, This Is Not My Life) are some of the guest stars. Series 2 started in Australia on ABC1 this month. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is one of the two brilliant Australian recent contributions to the detective drama genre, with The Doctor Blake Mysteries (also aired by ABC1). (In French) (Soundtrack review)

Thursday, 22 August 2013


In Vigàta, a Sicilian town in the district of Montelusa, il commissario Salvo Montalbano has his own way to solve crimes while dealing with bureaucracy, politics, and sometimes mafia. This sharp detective, who inspires perplexity to his hierarchy and loyalty to his men, never compromises his principles.

Montalbano is often assisted by friends outside the force and always likes to taste fine cuisine at his favourite restaurant or in his beach house. He has a complicated relationship with his permanent fiancee Livia Burlando, who lives in Genoa.

Based on the novels by Andrea Camilleri, Il commissario Montalbano is a detective drama launched in 1999 by Italian pubcaster RAI and starring Luca Zingaretti in the title role. With 26 feature-length episodes to date, this production from Carlo Degli Esposti's Palomar and RAI Fiction is hugely popular in its country. Also appreciated abroad, the Montalbano mysteries are co-produced by Swedish television (SVT) and aired in the UK as Inspector Montalbano by BBC Four.

In France, Commissaire Montalbano is shown by France 3 and is available on DVD thanks to Koba Films. After a 3-disc Volume 1 DVD set released in June and containing Series 1 to 3 (6 episodes), the second volume arrives this week. Those six 100-minute episodes from the fourth and fifth series are written by Francesco Bruni (Il commissario De Luca), Andrea Camilleri and Salvatore De Mola, and directed as usual by Alberto Sironi. Il commissario Montalbano is filmed on different locations in the province of Ragusa, Sicily - doubling as the both fictious Vigàta and district of Montelusa. The music is by Franco Piersanti.

Each disc includes two cases of the Sicilian detective and his team: the  womanizing Mimi Augello (Cesare Bocci), the smart Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzota), Galluzzo (Davide Lo Verde), and the ineffable Catarella (Angelo Russo). Other familiar characters are back too: Salvo's long-suffering girlfriend Livia (Katharina Böhm), forensic specialist Jacomuzzi (Giovanni Guardiano), coroner Pasquano (Marcello Perracchio), journalist Nicolò Zito (Roberto Nobile), Ingrid Sjostrom (Isabell Sollman), Mimi's fiancee Beba (Carmela Gentile), old mafia boss Sinagra (Francesco Sineri), etc.

-The Sense of Touch (Il Senso del tatto): An old blind man dies in his house seemingly by accident. Montalbano keeps his guide dog while he stays with Livia at the hotel run by the old man's sister and her husband on an island off the Sicilian coast. Catarella finds a call for help on a piece of paper hidden in a pottery he just bought.

- Montalbano's Croquettes (Gli Arancini di Montalbano): Salvo must join Livia in Paris for New Year's Eve. Though he's tempted by
a dinner invitation from his housekeeper Adelina, who has promised to cook arancini. Mimi Augello has a very personal interest for the fatal car crash of a local figure and his wife. Adelina's son is involved in the burglary of the couple's villa.

- The Scent of the Night (L'Odore della Notte): An investor from Milan has vanished
with the savings entrusted to him by the people of Montelusa. Augello has doubts on his future wedding with Beba. Montalbano is furious because a hundred-years old olive tree has been hacked down. As if it wasn't enough, his superior demands him explanations about an old case.

- The Goldfinch and the Cat (Gatto e Cardellino): An old lady on her way to the church is mugged by a
helmet-clad motorcyclist who shoots at her with a blank cartridge. Mimi, on marriage leave, gets confused when he meets his female temp replacement. A man causes trouble at the ER because of his daughter. The girl's gynaecologist is missing.

- Turning Point (Il Giro di Boa):  Professionally disenchanted, Salvo Montalbano wants to resign.
During one of his morning swims he finds a decomposed body floating in the sea.

- Equal Time (Par Condicio): A young woman escapes two killers and disappears. Angelo Bonpensiero, of the Cuffaro mafia family, is found dead. It looks like an execution and everybody except Salvo is convinced this the start of a new war between the Sinagras and the Cuffaros.

Those six excellent cases are available with French audio only. Series 9
of Inspector Montalbano (aired last spring in Italy) starts this sunday on France 3. Swedish actress Lina Perned replaces Katharina Böhm as Livia Burlando.


Saturday, 15 June 2013


Salvo Montalbano is a gruff but likeable chief inspector of police in Vigàta, a Sicilian town in the district of Montelusa. This shrewd detective, who inspires perplexity to his superiors and loyalty to his men, has his own way to solve crimes while dealing with bureaucracy, politics, and occasionally mafia.

Montalbano never compromises his principles, he's often helped by friends outside the force and always likes to taste fine cuisine at the San Calogero restaurant or in his beach house. He has a complicated relationship with his permanent fiancee Livia Burlando, who lives in Genoa

Hugely popular in Italy but appreciated abroad too, Il commissario Montalbano is a detective drama launched in 1999 by pubcaster RAI and starring Luca Zingaretti in the title role. It is based on the crime novels published since 1994 by writer, director and screenwriter Andrea Camilleri. BBC Four airs it in the UK as Inspector Montalbano. In France, where it is aired by France 3 as Commissaire Montalbano, Series 1 to 3 (6 episodes) are now available in a 3-disc Volume 1 DVD set released by Koba Films.

« Montalbano sono. »

In 1998, Carlo Degli Esposti, founder and president of Palomar, and RAI Fiction decided to adapt Camilleri's Montalbano mysteries for TV. The literary phenomenon became a cult drama with 26 feature-length episodes to date, all directed by Alberto Sironi (Il grande Fausto, Eurocops) and filmed on different locations in the province of Ragusa, Sicily - doubling as the both fictious Vigàta and district of Montelusa. Il commissario Montalbano is co-produced by Swedish television and even has a prequel, The Young Montalbano (Il giovane Montalbano, 2012). Andrea Camilleri worked on the scripts mainly with Francesco Bruni (Il commissario De Luca). 

Each of the discs of this first volume includes two cases of the Sicilian detective and his memorable team. Meet the touchy and womanizing Domenico "Mimi" Augello (Cesare Bocci), Montalbano's deputy even if the young and smart Fazio (Peppino Mazzota) assumes this position in the field. Meet also agents Galluzzo (Davide Lo Verde) and, most of all, Catarella (Angelo Russo). Clumsy and speaking a language barely comprehensible by his colleagues or by visitors of the police station, he becomes the precinct's computer expert!

Salvo gets professional assistance from forensic specialist Jacomuzzi (Giovanni Guardiano) and coroner Pasquano (Marcello Perracchio). He regularly asks a little informal help from friends such as local TV journalist Nicolò Zito (Roberto Nobile), pimp Gegè (Fulvio D'Angelo), or Swede former race car driver Ingrid Sjostrom (Isabell Sollman). In spite of his interest for her or Anna Tropeano (Biancamaria D'Amato), Montalbano remains faithful to his long-suffering girlfriend Livia (Katharina Böhm).

- The Snack Thief (Il Ladro di Merendine): Montalbano investigates on a businessman found stabbed dead in an elevator the same day a Tunisian was killed in an incident between Sicilian fishermen and a Tunisian patrol boat. A young boy linked to the events prompts Livia to reassess her relationship with Salvo.

- The Voice of the Violin (La Voce del violino): Montalbano discovers the naked dead body of a young woman in her villa outside Vigàta. The case is taken from him and given to a rival inspector from nearby Montelusa. Sergio Fantoni (The Manageress, La Piovra 2) guest stars as il maestro Barbera.

- The Shape of Water (La forma dell'acqua): Two garbage men come upon a leading political figure dead in a car at a notorious prostitution spot. Salvo receives bad news about his father.

- The Mystery of the Terracotta Dog (Il Cane di Terracotta): An old crime chief  wants to retire and stages his arrest with Montalbano.When the mafia feels "offended", he confesses to Salvo about the existence of an arms stash in a cave. Inside this cave there are weapons, uniforms and a secret chamber where the bodies of two lovers, killed in the 1940s, were buried in a strange ritual.

- Excursion to Tindari (La gita a Tindari): A young man is murdered in front of his apartment building and an elderly couple is reported missing. Former mafia boss Sinagra wants to meet Montalbano. Mimi wants to marry a woman inspector from Pavia and Catarella is on a secret assignment.

- The Artist's Touch (Tocco d'artista): Goldsmith Alberto Larussa appears to have committed suicide by turning his wheelchair into an electric chair but Montalbano won't close the case so easily.

No wonder why Luca Zingaretti's Salvo Montalbano is considered as one of the great Italian TV detectives like Gino Cervi as Maigret or Tino Buazzelli as Nero Wolfe. He's absolutely perfect and the adaptation of Andrea Camilleri's work has all for the viewer's enjoyment: mystery, suspense, humour, emotion, etc. Locations are beautiful and the music by Franco Piersanti is magnificent. The episodes in the DVD set are in French only. (In French)

Saturday, 1 June 2013


Detective Sergeant Harry Anglesea returns to Auckland from his native Samoa after a short break due to a personal tragedy.

Back to work under the scrutiny of the police psychiatrist, he's assigned a robbery homicide case involving drugs and a vicious biker gang.
Harry tries to maintain the precarious balance between his job and his personal life as the tension between him and his teenage daughter is growing.  

Harry is a cop drama from New Zealand, where it started last month on commercial channel TV3. Samoan-born Oscar Kightley, best known by New Zealanders for his comedy work with the Naked Samoans group, stars in the title role. Internationally acclaimed New Zealand actor Sam Neill returns to his country television screens as Detective Senior Sergeant Jim "Stocks" Stockton, Harry's mentor and friend. Created by producer Steven O'Meagher (This Is Not My Life), who founded Auckland-based prodco Desert Road in 2005, the six-part series is written by Christopher Dudman - who directs too, with former South Auckland cop Neil Grimstone and Oscar Kightley.

Grimstone, who's also technical consultant, provides realism to the scripts and Harry is filmed like a documentary in different Auckland locations. Budget is certainly a factor for the sobriety of its style but production manages to transform this modesty into effectiveness. In a drama environment overcrowded with "gritty crime" shows, Harry comes like a breath of fresh air because it focuses on the story of a man and a father trying to recover from a tragedy while doing one of the most complicated jobs. Steven O'Meagher says his main inspirations are Cracker and Prime Suspect. Oscar Kightley succeeds in giving his character a profound humanity.

The role of Mele Anglesea, Harry Anglesea's 13 year old daughter, is young Hunter Kamuhemu's first acting job. Harry also stars Erroll Shand (Underbelly: Land of the Long green cloud), Stephen Lovatt (Top of the Lake, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena) and Theresa Healey (The Blue Rose). Michael Koloi plays DC Mosese "Moss" Tuitonga (Harry's assistant) and Matthias Luafutu is impressive as the ruthless Afa Sorrenson. D.J. Stipsen is the director of photography and the music is composed by Karl Steven (The Blue Rose). His atmospheric theme intro is highlighted by a brilliant title sequence from Blockhead.

Produced by Desert Road, Harry is a presentation of TV3 in association with NZ On Air's Platinum Fund. This crime drama from New Zealand deserves our attention and is a valuable counterpart to the most recent British entries in the genre.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


London, 19th century. Discharged from the Metropolitan Police for "mental unfitness", Jonathan "Jack" Whicher is no longer an inspector. In a dangerous quarter he saves a respectable country lady, Miss Susan Spencer, from a robbery.

She's desperately seeking her vulnerable 16-year old niece, Mary Drew, and Jack offers to help her. It turns out that Mary was mortally stabbed a couple of days after giving birth to a child. Jack Whicher finds the baby and Miss Spencer commissions him as a "private inquiry agent" to investigate the murder and locate the father.

« Miss Spencer, I was involved in a case. A young woman committed a murder and I failed to secure a conviction. I became an embarrassment to them. I wouldn't want to be an embarrassment to you. »

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder in Angel Lane is a two-hour sequel to the highly-rated The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, a feature-length crime drama aired on ITV in 2011 and based on the non-fiction best-seller by Kate Summerscale about the Road Hill House murder. The excellent Paddy Considine (Red Riding, The Bourne Ultimatum, Hot Fuzz) is back as real-life character Jonathan Whicher, a pioneering detective who inspired many literary sleuths. But this time Mr Whicher works outside the police force in this entirely fictional story penned by Neil McKay (Appropriate Adult, Mo), who wrote the first film.

Olivia Colman, who's enjoying a deserved successful spring with Broadchurch and now two BAFTAs, plays Susan SpencerWilliam Beck reprises his role as Chief Inspector "Dolly" Williamson, and Tim Pigott-Smith (Downton Abbey, The Hour) returns as Commissioner Mayne. Shaun Dingwall (Above Suspicion, Rock & Chips) plays Inspector George Lock. Sam Barnard, 27, who has Down's Syndrome, delivers a very good performance as Robert - especially in a crucial moment. He's a member of the Skillnet Group Community Interest Company, a social enterprise working with people with learning disabilities.

This new case tests the limits of Jack Whicher's relationship with his former colleagues of the Detective Branch. From the backstreets of Victorian London to a private asylum via countryside manors it takes all his investigative skills to find answers while he's confronted to family secrets, powerful figures and to his own demons. The Murder in Angel Lane allows Paddy Considine to develop his subtle portrayal of the empathic but troubled ex-copper alongside a solid cast. McKay's compelling script and Christopher Menaul's experimented direction capture the spirit of the great Thames Television or Granada period detectives as the first Whicher did.

The production values are once again superb, like the photography by Tim Palmer and the music by Edmund Butt (Rob Lane scored the first Suspicions of Mr Whicher). Mark Redhead and Neil McKay exec produce. Rob Bullock is the producer. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder in Angel Lane is produced by Hat Trick Productions for ITV. Last sunday it attracted 5.9m viewers/24.6% (including +1).

« Well, I'm not sure I'll be taking on any other cases.
- I think you will. »

Thursday, 25 April 2013


A man is found dead on the beach of Saint-Malo, buried up to his neck in the sand and drowned by the rising tide. Adjudant-chef Eric Vautier, of the Gendarmerie, is reluctant to share the investigation with police officer Lieutenant Gwenaële Garrec from Rennes.

He's even skeptic when she identifies the modus operandi as a torture practiced by 17th century local pirates. But Gwen knows a lot about their history, which proves useful for Vautier because the case is linked to a treasure hunt. Death strikes again and some answers could be hidden on the Mont-Saint-Michel and in the lieutenant's past.

« Je ne voudrais pas passer pour un guignol auprès du boulet que la P.J. de Rennes nous a mis dans les pattes.
- Moi aussi je suis enchantée de vous rencontrer. »

The versatile and talented Bruno Solo (Blood on the Docks, the Vérité si je mens franchise) and Louise Monot (OSS 117: Lost in Rio) star as the effective detective duo of Meurtres à Saint-Malo, a very good mystery/crime TV movie written and directed by Lionel Bailliu (Elodie Bradford, the Academy award-nominated short Squash) for French pubcaster France 3. Monot finds the right tone as the erudite lieutenant hit by a personal drama and Solo is perfect as the grumpy gendarme who has to cope with his wife's precocious Alzheimer.

« Je vous comprends très bien. Il faut beaucoup de courage pour renoncer à l'espoir. »

The well-crafted plot keeps the 17th pirate part of the story strictly in the background for the sake of the whodunit and its welcomed couple of twists. There are small doses of humour and of required "police action". Bailliu also aptly takes advantage of the Saint-Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel locations. Meurtres à Saint-Malo is produced by Iris Bucher for Quad Television with AT-Production, R.T.B.F. (Belgian television), France Télévisions, TV5Monde and the support of Région Bretagne and the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée. The music is by Laurent Juillet.

The supporting cast includes Micky Sébastian and Patrick RaynalSwann Arlaud plays Gwenaële Garrec's brother Loïc, Lety Pardalys is Nicole Vautier, Thierry Barbet is Guyvarch (Vautier's second in command) and Loïc Baylacq is eye-patched repo man Le Goff. Aired last tuesday by France 3, Meurtres à Saint-Malo brilliantly came as the unexpected rating challenger of CSI (aired by TF1) with 4.770.000 viewers (17.8%). This TV movie, distributed by AB International Distribution, really deserves a subsequent series.

In French:

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


North of France at the end of the 1950s. Freshly transferred commissaire Laurence is called to investigate a murder at La Main tendue, a rehabilitation center for mentally ill persons, much to his irritation.

Alice Avril writes the broken hearts' column for regional paper La Voix du Nord and dreams to become a reporter. When Laurence refuses to share with her information about the murder she goes undercover at La Main tendue and gets a maid job.

« Alice Avril, reporter à La Voix du Nord. J'enquête sur le meurtre à La Main tendue.
- Ce sont les flics qui enquêtent. Les journalistes pissent de la copie.»

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("Agatha Christie's little murders") is a French adaptation of Agatha Christie's stories as a period crime comedy-drama 90-minute series with two local sleuths instead of  her detectives. Launched in 2009 on France 2 and initially set in the 1930's north of France, it starred Antoine Duléry as the epicurian and womanizing commissaire Larosière and Marius Colucci as his gay assistant inspecteur Lampion until 2012. The duo, whose cases caught between 4m and above 5m viewers, bowed out last autumn. Nevertheless, Les petits meurtres continues and last week Jeux de glaces introduced a new tandem in the 1950s: commissaire Swan Laurence performed by Samuel Labarthe (of the Comédie-Française) and reporter Alice Avril, played by Blandine Bellavoir (Maison close, Plus belle la vie).

« Le manque d'oxygène déteriore le cerveau mais encore faut-il en avoir un. Vous ne risquez absolument rien. »

Adapted from They Do It with Mirrors by Sylvie Simon, who created the two characters with Thierry Debroux, this episode is chiefly focused on the unlikely team up of the uber elegant, cynical cop with the tenacious female journo. Laurence is dressed like Cary Grant, talks like Gregory House or Sacha Guitry (« C'est le mariage qui m'ennuie. »), and drives a chic sports car (1) like Simon Templar. Samuel Labarthe steals Jeux de glaces with the best lines (« Vous avez peut-être un physique de boniche mais il faut du talent pour transformer une fouine en taupe. ») and his on-screen chemistry with Blandine Bellavoir is perfect. Although Avril should evolve from this kind of adult Nancy Drew to be as interesting as Lampion. At least she's more lucky than Marlène, the stereotypical scatterbrain blonde secretary played by Elodie Frenck in a full La Minute Blonde mode (2). Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie wins in comedy what it loses in subtlety.

The result is different from the Larosière/Lampion era but it remains very enjoyable. The sets look lavish and the locations, including the château de Pittefaux near Boulogne-sur-Mer, are beautiful. Both the main cast and the guest cast (Catherine Mouchet, Olivier Rabourdin, etc...) are excellent. Helmed by resident Petits meurtres director Eric Woreth, Jeux de glaces won a Pyrénées d’Or of the Best Series (tied with Lazy Company) at the Luchon's Festival of Television Creation. The music, as usual, is by film and TV composer Stéphane Moucha (Das Leben der Anderen). Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil's Escazal Films with the support of Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais, TV5 Monde and France Télévisions.

This friday France 2 airs Meurtre au champagne, another Laurence/Avril, adapted from Sparkling Cyanide.

(1) A Facel-Vega Facellia ( - In French).
(2) A 2004-2006 short sequence of a Canal Plus talkshow with Frédérique Bel as Dorothy Doll, the epitome of the dumb blonde stereotype.

In French:

See also:

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


No, your humble servant hasn't been called for the conclave in Vatican City. It's just that things are a little complicated these days, to say the least.

Episode 1 of Broadchurch (ITV) was very good, yesterday's one was brilliant. Very regrettably, Shetland (BBC One) wasn't up to our expectations in spite of its great setting and the talented Douglas Henshall. Not bad, not good, not the wonderful Vera (also adapted from the books of Ann Cleeves).

Midsomer Murders returns in France at the end of this month on pubcaster France 3. We reviewed most of the 15th series when ITV aired it except the last two episodes. Didn't watch The Sicilian Defence in full as we didn't want Barnaby and Jones to investigate on our death by boredom. Compared to it, Schooled in Murder was an improvement but Jones's character exit was frustrating. And what happened at the beginning of the episode to [Spoiler], who played [Spoiler], was absolutely hilarious.

Oh, the first episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie with the new detective duo arrives at the end of this month too, on France 2.

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

Midsomer Murders - Series 15:

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie: (In French - With trailer)

Monday, 4 March 2013


As we said on Twitter: well done, well played, not original. Very good premiere.

David Tennant
is a great addition to the long history of ITV cops but it's not a surprise if you remember him in Blackpool

Review of this first episode ASAP.

[Update March  9, 2013] Due to a persistent migraine (a real one, we mean) and other things that make life so joyous we'll come back to Broadchurch when possible.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Irish crime drama Jack Taylor, based on Ken Bruen's books, originated on TV3 in 2010. The Guards, its pilot TV movie, made its UK debut last thursday on Channel 5 where it will be followed by two other 90-minute standalone stories: The Pikemen and The Magdalen Martyrs.

Scottish actor Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Prisoners' wives) stars as Jack Taylor, a disgraced ex-sergeant ejected from the Guards - the Irish police (An Garda Síochána) - for punching a government minister and drinking. Now he makes a living as a "finder" of people and things in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. « There are no private eyes in Ireland. Too close to being an informer – a dodgy concept. » But he stubbornly won't give back his regulation garda all-weather coat because "once a guard, always a guard". Though  Superintendent Clancy (Frank O'Sullivan), his former partner, may disagree.

Jack's "office" is at the pub of his surrogate father and barman Sean (Barry Cassin). While a fourth dead girl has been discovered near the river, Anne Hennessey (Tara Breatnach) manages to locate Taylor and hires him to find her missing daughter. He asks around, including Father Malachy (Paraic Breathnach), and his search leads him to a factory illegally employing young women. Jack can only rely on Garda Kate Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone) and on former paratrooper Sutton (Ralph Brown), his drinking buddy who's now a painter. Things get nasty as a prominent local figure is involved: businessman and art collector Trevor Lanpert (David Heap).

Adapted from the first Jack Taylor novel (2001), The Guards is directed by Stuart Orme (Colditz, The Puppet Masters) and written by Tom Collins, Anne McCabe and German producer Ralph Christians. Christians's Galway based prodco Magma Productions is behind the Jack Taylor series. The pilot, filmed in Galway, is exec produced by Ralph Christians, Dirk Schweitzer & Richard Price and produced by Clodagh Freeman. It is a co-production with German private channel RTL and Richard Price Television Associates. The subsequent TV movies (1) are co-produced by  Molten Rock Media Production and ZDF Enterprises - the distribution arm of German pubcaster ZDF and distributor of Jack Taylor.

The plot itself is not original but The Guards successfully brings the hard-boiled genre to Galway, where author Ken Bruen was born and lives. Iain Glen is fabulous as the disheveled, straight-shooting and hard-drinking finder with cheap rates and a big heart. The talented actor said he always wanted to play a private eye (2) and in Jack Taylor it definitely shows. The Guards is a gripping crime thriller which will remind of German Krimi-Serie Schimanski (with Götz George) to some continental European viewers.

(1) Filmed in Galway and in Bremen, Germany (

Thursday, 21 February 2013


The first series of Monroe, the ITV drama starring James Nesbitt (Occupation, Jekyll) in the title role, arrives this thursday on Arte. The Franco-German channel airs three episodes (!) tonight and the remaining three next week.

Gabriel Monroe is a genius neurosurgeon, a falsely arrogant virtuoso whose flamboyance hides a true interest for his patients but also pains from the past. He's brilliant and witty but has no idea that his family life is a mess. And his wife is going to give him a crash course.

Writer Peter Bowker (Occupation, Wuthering Heights, Blackpool), certainly didn't do a favour to Monroe when he told that he hoped his creation would achieve a similar dramatic intensity to that found in the American drama House (1). Gabriel has a Wilson too but it's a trainee (Michelle Asante) with a propension to fainting, and his bedside manners are better than those of the Princeton-Plainsboro maverick doc. In fact this unconventional master of neurosurgery is more Jeffrey Geiger (Mandy Patinkin in Chicago Hope) than House and James Nesbitt is at his best - he needed it after the bonekickeresque The Deep.

Sarah Parish (Mistresses) plays cardiac surgeon Jenny Bremner and Tom Riley (Lost in Austen) is anaesthetist Lawrence Shepherd. Monroe is produced by Mammoth Screen and exec produced by Peter Bowker, Michele Buck and Damien Timmer. The pleasant intro theme and the music are by Dominik Scherrer (Primeval) and the title sequence (2) is from Momoco (Injustice, Zen, Luther, Strike Back). The first three episodes of this first series are directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock) and episodes four, five and six are directed by David Moore (Merlin, The Forsyte Saga).

Monroe has its defects, like the annoying visual effects and the clichéed use of songs, but this enjoyable drama worths more than the comparisons with House. Too bad it lasted only two series.

We reviewed the premiere of Monroe when ITV1 aired it in 2011:

(2) Starting with episode two.,CmC=7314082.html (In French)