Friday, 26 September 2014


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.

Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe), reporter Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir), and Laurence's secretary Marlène (Élodie Frenck) return this fall on pubcaster France 2 for three brand new episodes. 

It starts tonight with Meurtre à la kermesse. You can find a review of this excellent episode here:

Next week France 2 will air Cartes sur table, adapted from Agatha Christie's Cards on the Table and aired on Swiss television last may. A rather enjoyable episode but it probably would have worked better with Laurence and April's predecessors, Larosière and Lampion. Anne Canovas, Ged Marlon and the supremely talented Saïd Amadis are amongst the guest cast.

[Update October 11, 2014]

Review of Le crime ne paie pas:

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


The second series of Grand Hotel (Gran Hotel, 2011-2013), the acclaimed Spanish mystery drama, is available in France on DVD from Koba Films since last month. Produced by Bambu Producciones, the company of Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés, for private channel Antena 3, Gran Hotel was sold to more than 60 territories, including France (Téva and M6), the UK (Sky Arts) and the United States. 

Spain in the early 20th century. The prestigious Grand Hotel, located just outside the (fictional) town of Cantaloa, belongs to Doña Teresa, the merciless matriarch of the Alarcón family. The idyllic luxury of the establishment actually conceals secrets, lies, intrigue and danger.

Julio Olmedo (Yon González) is determined to clarify the suspicious circumstances of the accident which happened to his best friend and fellow waiter Andrés Cernuda (Llorenç González). Alicia (Amaia Salamanca), the youngest daughter of Doña Teresa Alarcón  (Adriana Ozores) and Julio's love interest, is married with Don Diego Murquia (Pedro Alonso), the scheming hotel manager. Julio convinces her with his theory about Andrés and they devise a plan to get the assistance of Horacio Ayala (Pep Anton Muñoz). But the shrewd inspector is now a simple agent who must take orders from his deputy Hernando (Antonio Reyes).

Javier Alarcón, the black sheep of the family (Eloy Azorin), gets into more trouble. Alfredo, the marquis of Vergara (Fele Martinez), is "on travel" while his wife Doña Sofia, Teresa's eldest daughter (Luz Valdenebro), fakes her pregnancy. The manipulative maid Belén (Marta Larralde), Andrés' wife, is really pregnant and has a letter of the highest importance for Doña Teresa. This letter leads Alicia and Julio to the biggest mystery in the history of the Grand Hotel. And Doña Ángela, the austere head housekeeper (Concha Velasco), could hold answers.

Series two of Grand Hotel consisted initially of 16 X 70-minute episodes but Antena 3 decided to reduce it by half to preserve ratings and the remaining 8, already filmed, were added to the 14 episodes of the third series (1). Koba Films releases the first half of this second series as "Series 2". Known internationally as "the Spanish Downton Abbey", Gran Hotel was in fact born from the passion of its creators Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira (Gran Reserva) for mystery stories and the work of Agatha Christie (2). A young incarnation of the novelist, "Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller" (Carolina Lapausa), even appears in the elegant sixth episode.

Agatha teams up with Ayala and Hernando, Spain's Poirot and Hastings (they deserve their own spin-off), and finds inspiration for The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The plot thickens for star-crossed lovers/amateur sleuths Julio and Alicia, who gather clues with a little help from Ayala's mastery of forensic science and a new invention called the "cinématographe". A figure from Julio's past resurfaces in a Hitchcockian episode to complicate the situation. Meanwhile, Doña Teresa and Don Diego stop at absolutely nothing to protect the hotel and their own interests.

This second series of Grand Hotel is not exempt of problems: the character of Don Ernesto, the new maitre d'hotel (Juan Lluis Galiardo in his final role), doesn't work. The antics of Javier become rapidly tiresome. Nevertheless, Gran Hotel remains generous in riveting twists and turns. The settings are gorgeous (3), the cast is truly fantastic and the music of Lucio Godoy is both magnificent and ingenious. Asunción Balaguer and Kiti Mánver (returning respectively as Lady and Doña Elisa), Silvia Marsó, and Alfonso Bassave are amongst the guest stars.

The 8 episodes of this DVD set from Koba are on 4 discs in French only. French subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. An Italian adaptation of Grand Hotel produced by Cattleya (Gomorrah) and Beta Film for pubcaster RAI 1 will air in 2015. It stars Eugenio Franceschini and Valentina Bellè. A Mexican version is also in preparation.

(3) Grand Hotel was primarily filmed at the Palacio de la Magadalena, an early 20th-century palace on the Magdalena Peninsula of the city of Santander ( 

[Update July 20, 2015] (Second half of Series 2 DVD review)

See also: (Series 1 DVD review)