Sunday, 27 December 2015


With Doctor Who!

- From Andy Pandy To Zebedee: The Golden Age of Children’s TV (BBC Four). A marvellous, heartfelt and informative documentary narrated by Nigel Planner, with nice clips and interesting interviews. Produced and directed by Verity Maidlow for BBC Entertainment Production London. Caroline Wright is the executive producer.

- Stick Man (BBC One). « I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man, I'm STICK MAN, that's me! » Adapted from the children's book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Produced by Magic Light Pictures and Orange Eyes Productions. Made by the creative forces who wonderfully adapted The Gruffalo (2009), The Gruffalo's Child (2011) and Room on the Broom (2012). Superb but it couldn't be otherwise given the outstanding quality of the previous adaptations.

With the voices of Martin Freeman (Stick Man), Rob Brydon (Snail and others), Russell Tovey (Dog), Sally Hawkins (Stick Lady and others), Hugh Bonneville (Santa) and Jennifer Saunders (The narrator). Directed by Jeroen Jaspaert and Daniel Snaddon. Michael Rose and Martin Pope produce. Music composed by René Aubry. Produced in association with BBC and ZDF.

- Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song (BBC One). « One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. » You didn't expect me on that one, did you? Considering that I "left" a while ago. Well, strictly on the basis that it was a Christmas treat right after Stick Man I actually loved it (except for a propension to recycling and the ending but never mind). Full of fabulous lines such as « I don't like being sure about things. One minute you're sure the next everybody turns into lizards and a piano falls on you. » or « Still digesting their mother. Thank you for asking. »

Peter Capaldi is, of course, extraordinary as The Doctor. Alex Kingston returns as River Song. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Matt Lucas (Nardole), Greg Davies (King Hydroflax) and Phillip Rhys (Ramone) guest star. Produced by Nikki Wilson. Exec produced by Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin. Music composed by Murray Gold, conducted and orchestrated by Alastair King. Doctor Who is a BBC Cymru Wales production.

- Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas (BBC One). The first ever half-hour special for Aardman Animations's beloved Shaun the Sheep. With the typical but always irresistible Aardman antics for children and grown-ups plus llama thugs. Produced by Aardman in association with WDR. Written by Nick Vincent Murphy, Lee Pressman and Richard Starzak. Created by Richard Starzak. Based on a character created by Nick Park. Directed by Jay Grace.

- Dickensian (BBC One). This 20 x 30-minute drama (?!) brings together some of Charles Dickens's most iconic characters in 19th century London. Created and written by Tony Jordan ("inspired by the works of Charles Dickens"). Directed by Harry Bradbeer. Produced by David Boulter. Exec produced by Tony Jordan and Belinda Campbell for Jordan's Red Planet Pictures (Death in Paradise). Huge cast including Pauline Collins, Peter Firth, Pauline Collins, Anton Lesser, Caroline Quentin, Omid Djalili, Stephen Rea...

Judging from the first couple of episodes it's Midsomer Dickens as a soap opera with the classic literature equivalent of MCU cameos. Not as enjoyable as Lost in Austen (2008) but global markets adore period dramas and detective dramas. For my part, I'll stick to An Inspector Calls (2015) and Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) and I'll not go beyond episode 2. The "Sherlockian" music was composed by Debbie Wiseman.

- And Then There Were None (BBC One). « Conventions, Miss Claythorne, is what keeps us together in the face of impending chaos. »  In 2014 the BBC announced it would be the new TV home of Agatha Christie in the UK for the 125th anniversary of her birth, thanks to a major deal with her estate. Their first commissions were the excellent Partners in Crime (starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine) and this adaptation of Christie's classic.

The three-part serial, co-produced by Mammoth Screen, Agatha Christie Productions and A+E Television Networks for the BBC, is written by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and directed by Craig Viveiros. And Then There Were None stars Douglas Booth, Charles Dance, Maeve Dermody, Burn Gorman, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens, Noah Taylor and Aidan Turner. This new take on one of Agatha Christie's most famous books is brilliantly thrilling and scary. A must see, effective even if you know the story. The locations are truly incredible.

Produced by Abi Bach. Exec produced by Sarah Phelps, Hilary Strong, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer. Titles by Ben Hanbury and Paul McDonnell. Music composed by Stuart Earl. John Pardue is the director of photography. Part 2 aired today, Part 3 tomorrow.

- Harry Price: Ghost Hunter (ITV). A TV movie about real-life "ghost hunter" and skeptic Harry Price, who investigated tales of the paranormal and supernatural. Adapted from Neil Spring's novel The Ghost Hunters by Jack Lothian (Doc Martin) for Bentley Productions, the prodco behind Midsomer Murders. Midsomer regular helmer Alex Pillai directs and Rafe Spall plays the title role. Regrettably, beneath the paranormal thing there's a forgettable period detective drama.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


Broadcast reveals today that Mammoth Screen, the ITV-owned prodco behind Poldark, is developing a major adaptation of H.G. Wells's The War of The Worlds for UK television.

This mini-series will remain faithful to the period and setting of the novel (England in the 19th century). It will be distributed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Previous adaptations of the book include the 2005 film by Steven Spielberg (starring Tom Cruise) and the 1953 classic directed by Byron Haskin

This new project looks quite interesting. Now, if British TV could bring back The Tripods... 

Details here

See also: 


Here is a non-exhaustive list of what I'll watch on Brit telly during this period. [Update - December 27, 2015] You'll find my very humble opinion about some (including Doctor Who!) here:

- From Andy Pandy To Zebedee: The Golden Age of Children’s TV (BBC Four, Monday 21 Dec 2015). A documentary narrated by Nigel Planner

- Stick Man (BBC One, Friday 25 Dec 2015). Adapted from the children's book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Produced by Magic Light Pictures, the company who did the wonderful adaptations of The Gruffalo (2009), The Gruffalo's Child (2011) and Room on the Broom (2012). With the voices of Martin Freeman, Hugh Bonneville, Russell Tovey, Rob Brydon and Sally Hawkins. Jennifer Saunders narrates.

- Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas (BBC One, Saturday 26 Dec 2015). The first ever half-hour special for Aardman's beloved Shaun the Sheep.

- Dickensian (BBC One, Saturday 26 Dec 2015). This 20 x 30-minute drama (?!) brings together some of Charles Dickens's most iconic characters in 19th century London. Huge cast: Peter Firth, Pauline Collins, Stephen Rea, Caroline Quentin, Omid Djalili, Anton Lesser... We'll see if this production from Tony Jordan's Red Planet Pictures is as enjoyable as Lost in Austen (or not).

- And Then There Were None (BBC One, Saturday 26 Dec 2015). In 2014 the BBC announced it would be the new TV home of Agatha Christie in the UK for the 125th anniversary of her birth, thanks to a major deal with her estate. Their first commissions were the excellent Partners in Crime (starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine) and this adaptation of Christie's classic. The three-part serial, co-produced by Mammoth Screen, Agatha Christie Productions and A+E, is written by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and directed by Craig Viveiros.

An ensemble cast includes Douglas Booth, Charles Dance, Burn Gorman, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Aidan Turner, etc. Unfortunately, the Beeb axed Partners in Crime (1) so And Then There Were None should better be good. 

- Harry Price: Ghost Hunter (ITV, Sunday 27 Dec 2015). A TV movie about real-life "ghost hunter" and skeptic Harry Price, who investigated tales of the paranormal and supernatural. Adapted from Neil Spring's novel The Ghost Hunters by Jack Lothian (Doc Martin) for Bentley Productions, the prodco behind Midsomer Murders. Midsomer regular helmer Alex Pillai directs. Rafe Spall plays the title role.

- Stephen Fry: A Life on Screen (BBC Two, Tuesday 29 Dec 2015). A one-hour documentary celebrating the career of actor, comedian, author and broadcaster Stephen Fry.

- Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (BBC One, Friday 1 Jan 2016). It's no mystery that I'm not a fan of Sherlock but I rather liked His Last Vow (though the ending was self-indulgent) and this special looks interesting. [Update - January 1, 2016] Interesting indeed, if not fascinating. They couldn't help to drown an almost perfect hour in 30 minutes of nonsensical self-satisfaction.

- War and Peace (BBC One, Sunday 3 Jan 2016). Lavish six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's book by Andrew Davies.  Made by BBC Cymru Wales, in association with The Weinstein Company, Lookout Point and BBC Worldwide. Starring Paul Dano, Lily James, James Norton, Gillian Anderson... Directed by Tom Harper. Really looking forward to it.

- Midsomer Murders (ITV, Wednesday 6 Jan 2016). The venerable detective drama returns with its 18th series (6 episodes). The previous series was both tired and tiresome except for A Vintage Murder, written by the talented Lisa Holdsworth. It was simply the best episode since Series 15.

- Death in Paradise (BBC One, Thursday 7 Jan 2016). The highly anticipated fifth series of the globally popular feel-good crime drama.


Sunday, 13 December 2015


Bob is a young magic-less elf who's very creative but his inventions never work as planned. When he tries to improve Santa's sleigh with his "Floatinator", Bob is ambushed by the evil puffin Fishface, who plots to ruin Christmas. 

The sleigh crashes in a magical forest. There, the elf meets a talking fish named Fluffy, a very anxious creature called Blue and Wupsy, a female cat with a sort of wrecking ball at the end of her long tail.

« I'm Blue.
- I'm a fish. He's lost.
- No, I'm Bob.
- And I'm still a fish. »

Bob's Broken Sleigh is a 3D animated Christmas special which premiered in North America on Disney Channel and Family Channel this week. Produced by Vancouver-based Eh-Okay Entertainment, it is written by Samantha Shear & Michael Shear and directed by Jay Surridge. The excellent voice cast stars Cole Howard (Bob), Michael Adamthwaite (Blue), Raini Rodriguez (Wupsy), Bruce Greenwood (Fishface) and, Victor Garber (Fluffy).

Bob's Broken Sleigh manages to appeal to both children and their parents. The animation is pleasant and there is a welcome humour with some tongue-in-cheek dialogues from eccentric secondary characters. Blue looks like a descendant of the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. The hilarious fish voiced by Victor Garber actually steals the 50 minutes.

Bob's Broken Sleigh is a DHX presentation, produced by Heather Puttock and exec produced by Josh Scherba, Anne Loi, Jason Netter and Loris Kramer Lunsford. Alison Ross is the associate producer. The music is by British composer Michael Richard Plowman.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


Melbourne at the end of the 1920s. The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher (pronounced "Fry-Knee") is a young, beautiful and wealthy socialite with many skills and talents. This free-spirited and intrepid lady, who drives her own Hispano-Suiza motor car, is also a brilliant private detective. 

The second series of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is available on DVD in France since last August thanks to Koba Films.

« Hello Jack. Oh, come on. You'd be disappointed if I didn't show. »

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) 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 France on France 3 as Miss Fisher enquête. Always ahead of Detective Inspector John "Jack" Robinson (Nathan Page) and Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), Miss Fisher cannot resist solving crimes with her devout Catholic maid Dorothy "Dot" Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) and communist cab drivers Albert "Bert" Johnson (Travis McMahon) and Cecil "Cec" Yates (Anthony Sharpe).

Phryne Fisher's aptly named butler Mr Butler (Richard Bligh) manages the household with absolute efficiency and knows some things about horse racing and weapons. Prudence Stanley (the great Miriam Margolyes), her aunt, is a reputation-conscious society matron. Series 2 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (13 one-hour episodes) opens with Phryne helping Jack  to clear the name of his ex-father-in-law, Deputy Commissioner George Sanderson (Neil Melville), who's the key suspect in the murder of a prostitute. Miss Fisher's others mysteries include a murder in a fashion house, the apparent suicide of a rugby team captain, the suspicious car accident of an accomplished female racing driver, the death of an actor on a movie set, a deadly war between radio stations and newspapers, etc.

« That's remarkable. 
- Thank you. You should see what I can do with a garter. »

Murder Under the Mistletoe, a one-hour Christmas special, concludes perfectly an overall excellent second series of this popular show sold in more than 120 countries. Production values are high and the whodunits are enjoyable. The stunning Essie Davis 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 Fisher and Jack Robinson worthy of the Golden age of Hollywood. Dan Wyllie (Underbelly), Heather Mitchell (The Great Gatsby), Robert Morgan, David Field, James Saunders and John Noble (Fringe) are some of the guest stars. Tammy McIntosh is back as Dr. Elizabeth "Mac" Macmillan and Ruby Rees-Wemyss returns as Jane, Phryne's ward. Dee Smart plays Jack Robinson's ex-wife Rosie.

The musical ambiance is brought by standards of the era and original compositions by Greg J. Walker. The gorgeous title sequence was designed by Donna McCrum and Andy Canny for Plus Films. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is produced in association with Film Victoria, Screen Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It is distributed by All3Media International. Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox, Carole Sklan and Sue Masters exec produce. Fiona Eagger is the producer. Series 2 is in a 4-disc DVD set with its French dubbing and, most fortunately, the original dialogue track - subtitled in French or not.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries will return on France 3 at the end of this month with its third series. In October Koba Films released a a DVD box set with the first two series.

See also: (Series 1 French Region 2 DVD review)

Monday, 9 November 2015


[Spoiler-Free] Someone threatens to kidnap Bruno, the young son of famous crime fiction author Eloïse Zennefort and her husband Hadrien Debaer unless they pay 500.000 francs. 

The demand is signed "Greg Atlas", which is the name of the character created by Eloïse.

« Cadeau d'une femme, j'imagine?
- Plusieurs. Elles se sont cotisées »

L'étrange enlèvement du petit Bruno is the twelfth episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("The little murders of Agatha Christie") with the Laurence/Avril/Marlène trio. Directed by Eric Woreth, it is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly by Jean-Luc Gaget. Samuel Labarthe is Commissaire Swan Laurence. Alice Avril is played by Blandine Bellavoir and Élodie Frenck plays Marlène Leroix. Natacha Lindinger returns as the sophisticated and sarcastic pathologist Docteur E. Maillol (« J'ai pratiqué une autopsie sur votre petit oiseau. »), who appeared in the previous episode as Laurence's potential love interest.

« Vous me prenez pour qui? Une débutante?
- Non, une plaie. La onzième. Après le furoncle »

Commissaire Laurence goes to the luxurious castle of Eloïse Zennefort. Avril too because she got an interview with the novelist. Swan requires uniformed backup but that's not enough to prevent the kidnapping of little Bruno. Marlène speaks in abbreviations and quotes her "Tata Gilberte", someone beheads birds, Alice visits the police station cells again, Françoise Giroud works for newspaper La Voix du Nord (or not) and wasps can't drive. 

« Et la liberté de la presse?
- Je m'assied dessus. Une fesse, puis l'autre.  »

Aired last friday by Swiss channel RTS Un (ahead of French pubcaster France 2), L'étrange enlèvement du petit Bruno reaches a new high for the popular series. Valérie de Dietrich is absolutely extraordinary as the "queen of crime novels" Eloïse Zennefort. The rest of the guest cast includes Fabio Zenoni (Hadrien Debaer), Vincent de Bouard (Gilles Vanberten) Victor Le Blond (Gaspard), etc. Dominique Thomas plays Commissaire divisionnaire Tricard, Alice's editor-in-chief Robert Jourdeuil is played by François Godart and Thomas Baelde is back as Raoul Gredin.

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films with Pictanovo (Witnesses), Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. The characters of Laurence, Avril and Marlène were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha.

« Mon mari m'a supplié de ne pas l'acheter, cette bicoque. Mais que voulez-vous, l'argent rend con »

The magnificent castle of this episode is in fact le château des Princes de Ligne at Antoing in Belgium. Some Eloïse Zennefort's Greg Atlas novels: Le Masque de Dieu, L'Amour est une illusion ordinaire, Une position inconfortable... « Cette affaire ça ferait un très bon épisode des Cinq dernières minutes, n'est-ce pas?  »

Monday, 2 November 2015


Europe at the end of the 1920s. Charming and elegant, Arsène Lupin is a gentleman thief who steals without violence. He's a master of disguise who ridicules the authorities and the best sleuths, though himself likes detective work. Especially if a beautiful woman is involved. 

Arsène Lupin (1971-1974), starring Georges Descrières, is one of the most popular series in the History of French television. In August Koba Films released a four-disc DVD box set of its second and final season. 

« Quand un mystère nous échappe feignons d'en être l'organisateur.
- Ça c'est du Lupin, hein?
- Non, c'est de Jean Cocteau.  »

Created by French writer Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941), Arsène Lupin appeared in 39 short stories and 17 novels between 1905 and 1939. Several actors portrayed him for the cinema, including Robert Lamoureux in the 1950s. In 1960, Jean Gascon played Lupin for Canadian TV. During the decade, writer and director Jacques Nahum tried to convince French state television about an Arsène Lupin series. Nahum, who adapted The Saint with the film Le Saint mène la danse (1960), had Simon Templar in mind but couldn't get the rights. At the end of 1968, L'Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française commissioned Jacques Nahum's Mars International Productions and Pathé to produce Arsène Lupin.

Stage and movie actor Georges Descrières (of the Comédie-Française) was chosen for the title role in 1969. International co-production with Germany, Canada, Austria, Holland, Italy and Switzerland allowed Lupin to travel in Europe with his chauffeur Grognard (French Canadian actor Yvon Bouchard) for most of the thirteen 60-minute episodes. The writers loosely based their scripts on Leblanc's work to favour a lighter character. The nonchalant charisma of Descrières and classy production values made of Arsène Lupin a success on the ORTF 2nd channel in the spring 1971. A Bondian title sequence (by Jean Fouchet) with the music of Jean-Pierre Bourtayre and an end title sung by Jacques Dutronc contributed to this popularity.

A second 13-episode season was commissioned to Mars and Pathé. ORF and WWF joined as co-producers, hence one episode in Austria and three in Germany. Some of the filming took place in the French region of Dordogne during the year 1973. Jean-Pierre Bourtayre composed once again the soundtrack, arranged by Jean-Daniel Mercier. The theme and the title sequence returned but a new end title song, Gentleman cambrioleur, was composed for Dutronc by Bourtayre, Yves Dessca and Franck Harvel (Alain Boublil).

1. Herlock Sholmes lance un défi. Lupin steals a necklace to the count of Dreux-Soubise (Bernard Dhéran). English detective Herlock Sholmes (Henri Virlojeux) challenges him. An enjoyable premiere adapted by Claude Brulé and directed by Jean-Pierre Desagnat, who helmed the French episodes of this season. Roger Carel is back as Arsène's nemesis Commissaire Guerchard. Also with Sophie Agacinski (Nathalie), Yves Barsacq (Wilson), Jacques Monod (Le préfet), Bernard Lavalette (Le ministre) and Michel Peyrelon as a general. Lupin/Floriani is very Groucho Marx.

2. Arsène Lupin prend des vacances. Arsène Lupin becomes Inspecteur Lenormand. In Cannes, he investigates the murder of businessman Kesselbach (Jacques Debary). Also starring Claude Degliame (Dolores), Daniel Sarky (Leduc). Adapted by Nathan Grigorieff, a very good episode including great scenes between Carel and Yvon Bouchard and a tribute to The Lady from Shanghai.

3. Le mystère de Gesvres. The steward of comte de Gesvres is stabbed during a "visit" of Lupin. Scriptwriter Albert Simonin introduces reporter Isidore Beautrelet, a clone of Rouletabille brilliantly portrayed by Bernard Giraudeau. Also with Thérèse Liotard (Raymonde), Pauline Larrieu (Suzanne) and Henri Tisot (Juge Duredant).

4. Le secret de l'aiguille. Arsène Lupin steals the jewels of the Crown and the Parchment of William the Conqueror. Herlock Sholmes teams up with Isidore Beautrelet and Guerchard. Adapted by Simonin and filmed in Étretat. Roger Carel and Bernard Giraudeau are formidable in this bravura piece where Sholmes reads Shakespeare to a dog and Guerchard uses a diving equipment. Arsène's "Commandant Delaville" resembles Filochard of Les Pieds nickelés and his "Père supérieur" speaks like Louis Jouvet. Catherine Rouvel plays Geneviève.

5. L'homme au chapeau noir. The Tout-Paris mourns for Lupin. Herlock Sholmes, Wilson and even Guerchard attend his funeral. Except the gentleman thief is alive and he can't resist to help a lady in distress. An excellent episode adapted by Claude Brulé. The pre-credit sequence refers to Maurice Leblanc, to Brulé's uncle André Brulé (who played Lupin on stage) or to season one's Countess Natacha. With Nicole Calfan (Catherine), Karin Petersen (Juliette), Gérard Chevalier (De Boisvert). Stuntman Gérard Streiff flies in Arsène's biplane.

6. L'écharpe de soie rouge. Music Hall star Jenny (Prudence Harrington, who appeared uncredited in the previous episode) marries shady financier Prévailles (François Guérin). Adapted by Brulé, this episode is carried by Roger Carel. Jenny's song is performed by Anne Germain. Also starring Sacha Pitoëff (Ignatieff).

7. La demeure mystérieuse. Model Régine Aubry (Marika Green) is kidnapped wearing a dress covered with diamonds. An average detective case penned by Georges Berlot. Also starring Evelyne Dress (Arlette), Jacques Toja (Comte de Mélamare) and Guy Grosso (Rabloux).

8. Les huit coups de l'horloge. Hunting with Baron d'Aigleroche (François Maistre), Arsène Lupin meets Hortense (Corinne Le Poulain) and her cousin Gaétan (Pierre Londiche). A good surprise adapted by Robert Scipion, with Grognard whistling the intro of the series, a car chase and a sabre duel.

9. La dame au chapeau à plumes. Arsène Lupin and Grognard have a car accident in Vienna. Amnesiac, Lupin is helped by a nurse. Adapted by husband and wife Rolf & Alexandra Becker (Dickie Dick Dickens) and Jacques-Roger Nanot, this Austrian entry for ORF sounds like an ITC show. Directed by Wolf Dietrich.

10. La danseuse de Rottenburg. Lupin saves a young woman who wanted to commit suicide. This episode and the next two are produced by Bavaria für WWF and directed by Fritz Umgelter. Adapted by R. & A. Becker with Gerôme Gresy. Günter Strack (Federlin) and Sky du Mont (uncredited) are in the guest cast.

11. Le film révélateur. Arsène turns into American film star Douglas Dutchman to steal a diamond. A pleasant episode adapted by R. & A. Becker with Jacques-Roger Nanot.

12. Double jeu. A forgettable adaptation by R. & A. Becker with Georges Berlot.

13. Le coffre fort de Madame Imbert. Lupin wants to teach a lesson to the greedy Irène Imbert (Pascale Roberts). Adapted by Albert Simonin. Also with Marthe Mercadier (Sophie), Jean-Pierre Rambal (Benoit). The music played by the blind man (Raymond Bussières) is L'Arsène, the end title song of the first season.

The 2nd channel aired this final season in winter 1973-1974. Repeats of the series helped to establish Georges Descrières as the definitive Arsène Lupin for generations of viewers, although Leblanc's fans may disagree. Jacques Nahum brought back Lupin to television with Arsène Lupin joue et perd (1980, starring Jean-Claude Brialy), Le retour d'Arsène Lupin (1989) and its follow-up Les Nouveaux Exploits d'Arsène Lupin (1995), both with François Dunoyer. Descrières played Sam Kramer alongside Corinne Le Poulain and later Nicole Calfan in Sam et Sally (1978-1980), based on the books of M.G. Braun and produced by Nahum.

Amongst familiar French faces of the era or abroad, Georges Descrières, his elegance and his disguises make of Arsène Lupin a special treat. Bonus material of the Koba Films DVD set includes a video of Jacques Dutronc singing Gentleman  cambrioleur and a Making of La demeure mystérieuse. Last month Koba released Arsène Lupin - L'intégrale, a DVD box set with the two seasons.  

Season 1:

Saturday, 10 October 2015


[Spoiler-Free] Human bones are discovered in the cellar of a demolished house. DCI Cassie Stuart and her colleague DS Sunny Khan investigate.

A car key discovered near the remains leads them to a bag and a 1976 diary in what happens to be a 39-year old murder case

« Is a crime less serious because time's passed? Is it wrong... less wrong... because it was done 50 years ago, or 60, or 70? »

Unforgotten, a 6 X 60-minute cold case crime drama directed by Andy Wilson (Ripper Street, Kidnap and Ransom), started on thursday on ITV. It is the first commission for Mainstreet Pictures, the indie prodco set up by former ITV drama execs Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes. Created and written by Chris Lang (Undeniable, A Mother's Son), Unforgotten stars Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, The Indian Doctor) as DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil "Sunny" Khan. The detectives begin their search for the identity of the body found in the basement of a Victorian building at 27 Arlingham Place, Willesden, London. 

This premiere episode introduces four seemingly unconnected characters in different corners of the country. There's wheelchair-bound Eric Slater (Tom Courtenay), who tries to cope with the dementia of his wife Claire (Gemma Jones). Lizzie Wilton (Ruth Sheen) runs a community football team with her husband Ray (Brian Bovell) and helps a kid to prepare his exams. The Alansugaresque Sir Philip Cross (Trevor Eve) is the new entrepreneur tsar of the government and he's married to Shirley (Cherie Lunghi). And finally Robert Greaves (Bernard Hill), a priest with a serious accounting problem.

Thanks to scientific wizardry, the connection between the four appears to Stuart and Khan. DCI Cassie Stuart is a clever and tenacious investigator. She lives with her father Martin (Peter Egan) with whom she shares a passion for doing The Times crossword. DS Sunny Khan is an overworked but excellent copper. They form a perfect professional partnership, without conflict nor sexual tension, often punctuated with welcomed humorous conversation. The pairing of the brilliant Nicola Walker and the versatile and talented Sanjeev Bhaskar as this new sleuth duo works great. 

Chris Lang competently assembles his gripping and atmospheric whodunnit puzzle. The multi-stranded narrative is served by an impressive cast. Amongst the ever increasing flow of British crime dramas Unforgotten makes the difference while following the path of illustrious predecessors like Prime Suspect. Jonathan Harden plays forensic pathologist Sean Rawlins. All We Do, the title song is performed by Oh Wonder. Michael Price (Sherlock) composed the superb music. The fascinating title sequence is from Peter Anderson Studio. Unforgotten is produced by Tim Bradley (Death in Paradise, Primeval) and exec produced by Laura Mackie, Chris Lang and Sally Haynes. BBC Worldwide distributes it globally. (An interview of Chris Lang)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


[Spoiler-Free] Oxford-set British detective drama Lewis (Inspector Lewis in the US), a spin-off from Inspector Morse, was launched in 2006. Although it was assumed that Series 7 would be its last, Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox returned as Lewis and Hathaway for an eighth series last year on ITV.  

Series 9 premiered yesterday in the U.K. (Lewis is co-produced by the American network PBS) with the first part of One for Sorrow.

DI Robbie Lewis, pathologist Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) and DS Lizzie Maddox (Angela Griffin) try to identify the remains of a body found in a well. Meanwhile DI James Hathaway visits his estranged father Philip (Nicholas Jones), who's now in a care home because of dementia. Young avant-garde artist Talika Desai (Shanaya Rafaat) and her agent Sean Wilkinson (Ralf Little) open an exhibition of her artwork mixing video and taxidermy. But she's found dead the next day from an apparent drug overdose. Joe Moody (Steve Toussaint), the new Chief Superintendent, is dubious about Lewis's motivation for coming out of retirement and he threatens his position as a consultant for Oxfordshire Police.

Since 2013 each series of Lewis consists of stories split by ITV in two 60-minute instalments. This inappropriate change, conveniently turning three episodes into six, breaks the momentum of the story. Thankfully, feature-length versions are still aired on PBS or French public broadcaster France 3. Directed by Nick Laughland (Midsomer Murders), One for Sorrow is written by the talented Helen Jenkins, behind the return of Lewis and Hathaway in the excellent Entry Wounds last year. The cast, which also includes Emma Cunniffe, Steve Pemberton, Helen Schlesinger, and Tim Piggott-Smith, is really great.

The portrayal of Philip Hathaway by Nicholas Jones is touching. Dementia is approached with sensitivity in this very good episode (1). Angela Griffin returns to what successfully became a detective trio in the previous series. The only problem for now is the new boss, CS "Don't bother with the 'Sir' thing, it's Joe" Moody, whose only purpose is to be the perfect idiot. Of course, it's hard to replace Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent, played by Rebecca Front, but let's hope that the character will evolve rapidly in the second half (2). Lewis is a co-production ITV Studios and Masterpiece. The music, composed by Barrington Pheloung, is orchestrated and conducted by Matthew Slater.

(1) Interestingly, Kevin Whately investigated the subject of dementia in a formidable 2009 documentary produced for ITV's programme Tonight (
(2) The two-part format definitely doesn't help.

See also:

Saturday, 3 October 2015


Cornwall, 1936. The young Judith Dunbar is enrolled in a boarding school before her mother and sister rejoin her father in Asia. She becomes friends with one of her classmates, the rebellious Loveday Carey-Lewis. Loveday invites Judith to Nancherrow, the magnificent Carey-Lewis family estate. 

Coming Home (1998), a two-part TV serial based on the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher, is available since last month on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films as La Dynastie Carey-Lewis - Le grand retour.
Born in Cornwall in 1924, Rosamunde Pilcher is the author of 28 romantic novels published from 1949 to 2000, first under nom-de-plume "Jane Fraser" and later under her name. Pilcher's international breaktrough came in 1987 with The Shell Seekers, a family saga which became a worldwide best-seller. Two years later Angela Lansbury starred in an Anglo-American film for television adapted from the book (1) but it's actually viewers of German public broadcaster ZDF who made the work of Rosamunde Pilcher one of their favourite programmes during the 1990s.

Since 1993, the channel aired more than 100 adaptations of her books in the Rosamunde Pilcher Collection. Most of these TV movies or serials/mini-series are directly commissioned by ZDF and filmed in England, usually in Cornwall, with a majority of German actors. A few are international co-productions with a British main cast and some were simply bought for the collection. Scriptwriter John Goldsmith (Danny, the Champion of the World, The Return of The Saint) and director Giles Foster (Tales of the Unexpected) turned Coming Home (1995) into a 2 X 100-minute production from Portman Entertainment and Tele München, shown on ITV in April 1998 and on ZDF in June of the same year.

From 1936 to 1945, Coming Home follows the lives of members of the wealthy Carey-Lewis family and their friends through the eyes of Judith Dunbar. As a teenager, Judith is performed by Keira Knightley while the adult character is played by Emily Mortimer. Katie Ryder Richardson plays Loveday Carey-Lewis, Judith Dunbar's best friend, as an adult. The glamorous Diana (Joanna Lumley) and her much older husband Colonel Edgar Carey-Lewis (the legendary Peter O'Toole), Loveday's parents, accept Judith as one of their own. She discovers Nancherrow and also meets Tommy Mortimer (Patrick Ryecart) and Dr. Jeremy Wells (George Asprey).

When her aunt and tutor Louise (Penelope Keith) dies in a car accident Judith inherits a fortune. She gets attracted to Loveday's playboy brother Edward (Paul Bettany) and Loveday falls for Gus (Austrian actor Heiko Deutschmann). But World War II erupts and everybody faces its dramatic consequences. With an excellent cast (including Susan Hampshire and David McCallum), gorgeous locations (2), its romance and a wartime saga, Coming Home has all you can expect from the genre. The music was composed by Carl Davis (Pride and Prejudice).

ITV and ZDF aired a two-part sequel titled Nancherrow in 1999. In France it was coupled with Coming Home to be shown on M6 as La Dynastie des Carey-Lewis in 2001. Koba Films releases Coming Home in a two-disc set with the original dialogue track (subtitled or not) and a good dubbing by Dub'Club (American Horror Story, White Collar). Jean Fontaine and Xavier Varaillon wrote the French dialogues.

(1) The Shell Seekers was adapted again in 2006 with Vanessa Redgrave.
(2) Cornwall but also Wrotham Park, in Hertfordshire, doubling as Nancherrow.

[Update - March 12, 2016] (Nancherrow)

See also: 

Sunday, 20 September 2015


Marlène reads a weird newspaper ad announcing a "murder party". It tells that a murder will soon be committed at the stud farm of Leticia Salvan. There, a strange robbery attempt ends with the death of a caped criminal.

Alice Avril is now a full-time reporter. Commissaire Laurence meets THE woman.

« J'ai peur des chevaux. On ne peut pas leur faire confiance. Dans Autant en emporte le vent la petite fille monte, tombe et meurt. Et pourtant c'était un tout petit cheval. C'est tellement triste... J'ai peur des vaches aussi mais on ne monte pas sur des vaches.
- Revenons à nos moutons. Vous n'avez rien contre les moutons, Marlène? » 
Murder Party
is the eleventh episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("The little murders of Agatha Christie") with the Laurence/Avril/Marlène trio. Directed by Eric Woreth, it is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel A Murder Is Announced (Un Meurtre sera commis le... in French) by scriptwriter Sylvie Simon. Samuel Labarthe is Commissaire Swan Laurence. Alice Avril is played by Blandine Bellavoir and Élodie Frenck plays Marlène Leroix. This episode was mainly filmed at the beautiful haras de Blingel, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. 

« Personnellement j'aime les femmes féminines, douces, chaleureuses. Certainement pas des dominatrices, donneuses de leçons, un tantinet aigries. Et qui s'affichent avec des petits minets pathétiques.»

Laurence is surprisingly impressed by the new female pathologist of the Lille police station. The sophisticated and sarcastic Docteur E. Maillol is played by Natacha Lindinger (Hard). We learn what the "E" stands for only at the end, much to the hilarity of Avril and Marlène. The secretary gets a little jealous because of the interest of her boss for the newcomer. She decides to become "competent" and prepares her certificat d'études.

« Ah oui mais pour ça il faut du flair. Et même si je vous enfonçais la tête dans une poubelle vous seriez incapable de sentir quoi que ce soit. »

Who's behind the newspaper ad and who killed the robber? A colleague of Alice has a problem with her typewriter. Someone has a very peculiar relationship with a horse. Swan needs a little help from Alice and Marlène can be a mean girl. Oh, Donald Duck dies too. Murder Party was originally called Un Meurtre sera commis le... (like the novel) and this definitive title is terrible but the episode has Sylvie Simon's standards of excellence and even an echo to Jeux de glaces, the first Laurence, Avril and Marlène (« Son cerveau a été privé d'oxygène. »)

« Pleurez. Vous pisserez moins. »

The music of Stéphane Moucha sounds like 60s John Barry and his work for Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie definitely deserves a CD. There's also a gay couple and a Rosa Klebb moment. Italian actress Valéria Cavalli (Leticia Salvan), Blandine Pelissier (Odette), Juliette Plumecocq-Mech (Greenblat), Christine Bonnard (Henriette), Annabelle Hettmann (Philippine Leroy), Honorine Magnier (Antoinette Combet) and Clovis Fouin (Marcel Combet) are the other guest actors.

« Je pense qu'une femme est une source d'emmerdements. Elle est parfaite en potiche ou en femme d'intérieur. » 

Dominique Thomas and François Godart return respectively as Commissaire divisionnaire Tricard and Alice's editor-in-chief Robert Jourdeuil. Although Avril's rival Raoul Gredin isn't in Murder Party the character, played twice by Thomas Baelde, is mentioned. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films with Pictanovo (Witnesses), Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. The characters of Laurence, Avril and Marlène were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux

Saturday, 12 September 2015


[Spoiler-Free] French superstar Gérard Depardieu returns to French television with Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir. This event TV movie for pubcaster France 3 is helmed by his friend Josée Dayan, who previously directed him in Raspoutine, Les Rois maudits, Les Misérables, etc. 

Corinne Masiero plays the unconventional Capitaine Marleau (no first-name) of the Gendarmerie.

« Franchement, moi aussi j'ai eu une adolescence de merde. J'habitais dans un HLM. Ma mère elle picolait et elle buvait de l'alcool à 90. Et moi-même j'arrachais les pattes des sauterelles. Et ben j'suis pas devenue serial killer pour autant, hein? » (Cap'taine Marleau, Homicide)

Manuela Morales, accountant in a haulage company, is found dead at her workplace by her boss Philippe Muir (Gérard Depardieu). With the help of his new lover Cécile Castelnau (Catherine Wilkening), Muir tries to locate his troubled son Samuel (Samuel Mercer) rapidly. He fears the young man may be responsible. Capitaine Marleau, homicide detective at Perpignan, arrives on the crime scene and her manners leave Philippe's sister Blanche Muir (Hélène Vincent) quite baffled.

« J'ai dû être un lapin dans une autre vie. A chaque fois que j'suis quelque part faut que je creuse mon trou. » (Marleau)

Cost-cutter Manuela was not popular amongst people working for Philippe. Marleau interrogates Pierre Lacoudre (Jean Benguigui), one of his employees, but Philippe Muir himself becomes her main suspect because all the women he loved until now died tragically. Corinne Masiero first played Capitaine Marleau in Entre vents et marées (2014), a miniseries written by Philippe Besson and Daniel Tonachella (Blood of the vine, Maigret), directed by Josée Dayan and aired by France 3. It starred Nicole Garcia and Muriel Robin and Marleau was actually a secondary character.

« Ben ça sent fort la solitude. Ca part pas au lavage comme ça alors du coup je me suis demandé si... » (Marleau)

Dayan and novelist/scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau (Blood on the Docks) brings back Capitaine Marleau for a possible TV series in Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, with Gérard Depardieu as a special guest star (though first credited). Revealed by the film Louise Wimmer in 2012, Corinne Masiero is extraordinary as an offbeat cop between Vera, Columbo (1) and French comedian Coluche. The colourful and complex capitaine wears a cap with ear flaps which reminds of Frances McDormand in Fargo and she drives a Range Rover. Her abrupt ways hide a sharp mind and a profound knowledge of the human nature. She can also be poetically charming in the most unexpected circumstances.

« Tu sais quoi, moi aussi j'ai été jeune. Moche mais jeune alors je sais reconnaître du bon matos quand j'en vois. » (Marleau)

Série Noire author Elsa Marpeau knows her craft. The plot is certainly not original but it's well written and served by a good characterization, brilliant dialogues and an excellent cast. Gérard Depardieu looks confident under the competent direction of Josée Dayan. He's very good, even touching sometimes. Jerôme Kircher, who was in Entre vents et marées, makes an appearance. Belgian actor and French television legend Jean-Claude Drouot is irresistible as the Falstaffian pathologist Léopold Salaun.

« Je déteste les mômes de votre âge. Ils font des conneries tout le temps. Ils se marrent, ils se foutent de tout. Et nous les vieux on sait rien faire d'autre, rien faire d'autre que d'attendre et d'avoir peur pour eux. Et vous savez pourquoi? Parce qu'on est tellement cons qu'on arrive pas à vous aimer. » (Philippe Muir)

Filmed in Languedoc-Roussillon, Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir will air on France 3 on Tuesday, September 15th (2). It is produced by Josée Dayan's company Passionfilms in co-production with To Do Today Productions, RTBF (Télévision belge) and RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse, with the participation of France Télévisions. Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac are the producers. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn.

(1) There's a funny line about the lieutenant. There's also a nod to Les Rois maudits.
(2) RTBF and RTS aired it ahead of French television.

Friday, 4 September 2015


[Spoiler-Free] 1905, in the Schnalsthal valley (1), South Tyrol (in the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Pietro Neri, a young man of modest origin, arrives from the province of Verona to visit his sister Caterina, who works as a maid at the Grand Hotel Imperial

There, he's told she was fired and disappeared. Pietro becomes a waiter in the luxury albergo to find out what happened. Grand Hotel, the Italian adaptation of the acclaimed Spanish mystery drama Grand Hotel (Gran Hotel, 2011-2013), premiered on tuesday and wednesday on pubcaster Rai 1.

Known internationally as "the Spanish Downton Abbey", Gran Hotel was actually born from the passion of its creators Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira (Gran Reserva) for mystery stories and the work of Agatha Christie. The 39 X 70-minute series was centered on amateur sleuths and star-crossed lovers Julio Olmedo (Yon González) and Alicia Alarcón (Amaia Salamanca). Julio was a provincial young man posing as a waiter at the Grand Hotel of Cantaloa and Alicia the youngest daughter of the owner of the establishment, the merciless Doña Teresa Alarcón (Adriana Ozores). The idyllic luxury of the hotel concealed secrets, lies, intrigue and danger. There was even a gold knife serial killer in the area.

Julio and Alicia were helped by waiter Andrés Cernuda (Llorenç González) and lawyer Maite Ribelles (Megan Montaner) joined them later. Their allies in the police were shrewd detective and forensic expert Inspector Horacio Ayala (Pep Anton Muñoz) and the clueless Agent Hernando (Antonio Reyes), the Spanish Poirot and Hastings. Doña Teresa, the scheming hotel director Don Diego Murquia (Pedro Alonso), the austere head housekeeper Doña Ángela (Concha Velasco), and a powerful invisible enemy were the forces who tried to slow down their search for the truth. Produced by Bambu Producciones, the company of Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés, for Antena 3, the original Grand Hotel was sold to more than 60 territories, including France (groupe M6), the UK (Sky Arts) and the United States.

The Italian version is co-produced by Cattleya (Gomorrah) and Rai Fiction with German company Beta Film, the distributor of Gran Hotel. It is supported by BLS Südtirol-Alto Adige and Provincia autonoma di Bolzano. The 6 X 100-minute episodes, directed by Luca Ribuoli (Don Matteo), were primarily filmed at Castel Wolfsthurn, Racines, in the South Tyrol province of Bolzano in northern Italy. The gorgeous locations highlight the impressive adaptation work by Ribuoli, Isabella Aguilar, and the writing team lead by Peter Exacoustos. Grand Hotel stars Eugenio Franceschini as Pietro Neri and Valentina Bellè as Adele Alibrandi, the Italian Julio and Alicia. Adele is the youngest daughter of Donna Vittoria Alibrandi, the owner of the Grand Hotel Imperial, portrayed by Austrian actress Marion Mitterhammer.

German-speaking cast members of this co-production also include Günter Bubbnik (Rodolfo Von Raben) and Klaus Schindler as Raimondo, the maitre d'hotel and Italian counterpart of Benjamin, played in Gran Hotel by the legendary Manuel de Blas. Amongst the Italian cast, the performances of Eugenio Franceschini, Andrea Bosca (Marco Testa, the local Diego), Flavio Furno (Angelo Cereda) and Emanuela Grimalda (Rosa, the head housekeeper) are particularly commendable. Fans of the original will miss the Ayala/Hernando duo: Inspector Venezia (the excellent Ugo Dighero) is assisted by pathologist Doctor Gadda (Andrea Bruschi) - think Holmes and Watson, and the young Agent Arturo Parini (Pierpaolo Spollon).

Anyway the remake is for now faithful to its source material, except for a notably missing cigarette, some characterization changes, a couple of new storyline elements and a few minor details. Grand Hotel is gloriously lavish and overall very good. It will allow new audiences to discover the creation of Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira. Dario Aita (Jacopo Alibrandi), Barbara Ronchi (Olimpia Alibrandi), Francesca Agostini (maid Anita) and Federica De Cola (Caterina Neri) are in the regular cast too. The enjoyable Downton Abbey-esque theme and the superb music are composed by Nicola Tescari. Giovanni Galasso is the director of photography.

Grand Hotel is exec produced by Matteo De Laurentiis and produced by Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz, Ferdinand Dohna for Beta Film, Gianluca Casagrande, Emanuele Cotumaccio and Federica Rossi for RAI, and Claudia Aloisi. A Mexican adaptation of Gran Hotel, produced by Roberto Gómez Fernández, is in preparation for Televisa. It will take place during the Mexican Revolution. The original Grand Hotel is available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

(1) Val Senales in Italian. Today, Schnalstal.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


French period crime comedy-drama Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (The Little Murders of Agatha Christie) returned on France 2 yesterday with the first of four brand new episodes starring Samuel Labarthe (Commissaire Laurence), Blandine Bellavoir (Alice Avril) and Élodie Frenck (Marlène Leroix).

Written by Sylvie Simon and directed by Éric Woreth, Pension Vanilos triumphed over TF1 and its Grande Soirée des Parodies TV as #1 with 4.161.000 viewers (19.8 %) vs 3.430.000 (18.4 %) for the programme produced and hosted by Arthur Essebag aka Arthur. This episode will be followed by Un meurtre est-il facile? (aired before Pension Vanilos by Swiss television), Mademoiselle McGinty est morte and Murder Party (formerly Un meurtre sera commis le...) An other episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie, titled Le mystérieux enlèvement du petit Bruno Zennefort, was filmed this spring. 

The big budget hit series will have to leave its production base of Tourcoing, in the north of France, at the end of the year because the site was sold by the municipality. Two episodes, adapted from Agatha Christie's They Came to Baghdad and Murder in Mesopotamia, will be filmed in Morocco next year. They were actually planned to be done in Turkey years ago with the Larosière/Lampion duo (which preceded the trio Laurence/Avril/Marlène) just before stars Antoine Duléry and Marius Colucci announced their departure. In the meantime the producers will find another place, near Lille, to rebuild their lavish sets.

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films with Pictanovo (Witnesses), Conseil Régional Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. The characters of Laurence, Avril and Marlène were created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha. You can find (advanced) reviews of the latest Petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie on this blog.

See also: (Subscription only)

Monday, 24 August 2015


Season 2 of the cult classic Arsène Lupin, starring Georges Descrières, will be available on French region 2 DVD this week thanks to Koba Films. Koba also releases the second series of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

Reviews ASAP.

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie returns on France 2 with four brand new episodes starting from this friday: Pension Vanilos, Un meurtre est-il facile?, Mademoiselle McGinty est morte and Murder Party (formerly Un meurtre sera commis le...) (Un meurtre est-il facile?)

[Update September, 7] Coming Home (1988), adapted from a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher, will be available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films this wednesday. Review ASAP.

Other recent reviews:

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Spain in the early 20th century. The idyllic luxury of the prestigious Grand Hotel, located just outside the (fictional) town of Cantaloa, conceals secrets, lies, intrigue, and danger. 

The first half of the third and final series of Grand Hotel (Gran Hotel, 2011-2013), the acclaimed Spanish mystery drama, will be available tomorrow in France on DVD from Koba Films as "Grand Hôtel - Saison 4".  

Produced by Bambu Producciones, the company of Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés, for channel Antena 3, Gran Hotel was sold to more than 60 territories, including France (groupe M6), the UK (Sky Arts) and the United States. Series three of Grand Hotel initially consisted of 14 X 70-minute episodes. However, when Antena 3 reduced by half the second series to preserve ratings the channel added 8 of its 16 episodes (already filmed) to the third (1). Everybody at the Grand Hotel is in shock after the tragedy, starting with Doña Teresa Alarcón (Adriana Ozores). Wounded, Julio Olmedo (Yon González) is looking for his lover Alicia (Amaia Salamanca). But the wife of Don Diego Murquia (Pedro Alonso) has vanished. Lawyer Maite Ribelles (Megan Montaner), the best friend of Doña Alicia, arrives at the establishment.

Maite joins Julio, Inspector Horacio Ayala (Pep Anton Muñoz) and Agent Hernando (Antonio Reyes) in their search. Diego believes his wife left him and he's annoyed by Maite's presence. In the shadows, someone behind the recent events and the disappearance of Alicia will stop at nothing for revenge. 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).  Following a spectacular cliffhanger worthy of the U.S. supersoaps of the 1980s, this "Grand Hôtel - Saison 4" DVD set by Koba Films contains Episodes 1 to 7 of the third series.  

Doña Sofia (Luz Valdenebro) is left for dead in a cold room. Javier Alarcón  (Eloy Azorin) falls in love with nurse Laura Montenegro (Marta Hazas), who's not quite what she seems. Inspector Ayala is suspicious about Diego, whose self-assurance cracks as his past resurfaces. Hernando is a pioneer in K-9 policing... sort of. Alicia reappears but is she a pawn between the hands of an invisible adversary of her husband? Doña Ángela (Concha Velasco) and her son Andrés (Llorenç González) are fed up of Belén (Marta Larralde) to the point the young man goes to extreme measures. Jesús Manzano Cisneros (Lluis Homar) becomes the new maitre d'hotel. Teresa remains dangerous and Don Alfredo (Fele Martinez) meets the King of Spain.

The amateur sleuth trio Julio, Alicia and Maite helps Ayala and Hernando, the Spanish Poirot and Hastings, to find the answer to this question: who is Adrián Vera Celande? The 7 episodes of this DVD set from Koba are on 4 discs in French only. French subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. Overall effective, this ultimate series of Gran Hotel is packed with mystery, suspense and romance. Its twists and turns are more riveting than ever, the settings are gorgeous (3), the cast is composed of Spain's best actors and the music of Lucio Godoy is magnificent. An Italian adaptation of Grand Hotel produced by Cattleya (Gomorrah) and Beta Film for pubcaster RAI 1 will start on September 1. It stars Eugenio Franceschini and Valentina Bellè.

(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 ( 

See also: (Second half of Series 2 DVD review) (First half of Series 2 DVD review) (Series 1 DVD review)