Monday, 16 March 2015


Event French crime drama Witnesses (Les Témoins) starts in France this wednesday on pubcaster France 2

Created by Hervé Hadmar and Marc Herpoux (Pigalle, la nuit), the series stars Thierry Lhermitte, Marie Dompnier and Laurent Lucas. It will be available on French region 2 DVD (and Blu-Ray) from Koba Films on March 25.  

Les Témoins is definitely Must Watch TV and if you follow us on Twitter you already know how much we enjoyed its six one-hour episodes.

[Update April 8, 2015] French Region 2 DVD review:

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Cornwall in 1783. Captain Ross Poldark returns from the American War of Independence to discover that his father has died, his estate is in ruins and his fiancee Elizabeth is now engaged to his cousin, Francis

His uncle Charles wants him away and is ready to pay him to make a fresh start elsewhere. But Ross stubbornly refuses, determined to rebuild his family estate. With only the help of his father’s useless servants, Jud and Prudie, he takes on a new kitchen maid, Demelza, after rescuing her from a beating. Soon he's in conflict with hostile locals.

Written by English novelist Winston Graham, the 12 books of the Poldark saga were published between 1945 and 2002. A hugely popular adaptation from BBC Television and London Films Productions, starring Robin Ellis as Ross Poldark and Angharad Rees as Demelza, ran for 29 episodes from 1975 to 1977. The eighth Poldark novel, The Stranger from the Sea was adapted by HTV for ITV in 1996 without the original Ross and Demelza.

« How was the war, sir?
- As any war, ma'am. A waste of good men.
Poldark returned to the BBC on Sunday 8th March 2015 with an 8 x 60-minute series adapted by Debbie Horsfield (All the Small Things) from the first two novels: Ross Poldark and Demelza. It stars Aidan Turner (The Hobbit, Being Human) as Ross, Eleanor Tomlinson (Death comes to Pemberley) as Demelza, Ruby Bentall (Verity), Beatie Edney (Prudie), Jack Farthing as banker George Warleggan, Heida Reed (Elizabeth), Kyle Soller (Francis), Phil Davis (Whitechapel) as Jud, and Warren Clarke as Charles Poldark. Unfortunately, Charles was his last role and the first episode is dedicated to this great actor.

Excellent and elegant, the new Poldark is ideal for period drama lovers and those who enjoy quality dramas in general. The production values are top-notch, the scenery is magnificent, the required romance, intrigue and action are there. Aidan Turner is aptly cast as the rebellious and dashing gentleman with a social conscience. Ross Poldark is a 18th century swashbuckling anti-hero for modern audiences. Everybody in the cast and crew did a superb job to deliver an instant classic. This adaptation is an invitation to read the books, watch the 1975 series, and visit Cornwall of course.

Ed Bazalgette and William McGregor direct this Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece co-production for the BBC and PBS. Poldark is produced by Eliza Mellor (Death comes to Pemberley). The executive producers are Debbie Horsfield, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Polly Hill for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. Anne Dudley composed the beautiful music. ITV Studios distributes Poldark globally.

Robin Ellis appears in two episodes as Reverend Halse. 

Monday, 2 March 2015


A few words about things I couldn't review due to unforeseen circumstances.

- The Casual Vacancy - Episode One (BBC One): A 3 X 60 minute adaptation of the 2012 book by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) for the BBC and HBO. In a picture postcard English village, the death of a local councillor reveals in the most nasty way the conflicts between its inhabitants. 

As subtle as a hammer (with its heavy social satire) and moderately entertaining, The Casual Vacancy is basically an extended pre-credit sequence of Midsomer Murders. We wonder if the characters of this highly dispensable piece of television will all kill each other in the end of the third part. Adapted by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and directed by Jonny Campbell. Starring Michael Gambon, Julia McKenzie, Keeley Hawes, Rufus Jones, Rory Kinnear, Emilia Fox, etc. 

- Midsomer Murders: A Vintage Murder (ITV): It seems everybody does Midsomer better than the worn-out detective drama these days, starting with the ever effective Death in Paradise. Thank God, the supremely talented writer Lisa Holdsworth (New Tricks) concluded a both tired and tiresome 17th series with this gem. The expectations were high because Miss Holdsworth previously killed Martine McCutcheon with a giant cheese in the episode Schooled in Murder (2013).

 A Vintage Murder is simply the best episode since series 15. Naoko Mori (Torchwood) is hilariously brilliant in a performance reminiscent of Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. The guest cast includes Mark Bonnar, Lloyd Owen, Claire Bloom and Rosie Cavaliero. Directed by Nick Laughland.

Midsomer Murders is produced by Bentley Productions Ltd, an All3Media company, for ITV. 

- Bajo Sospecha - Episode One (Antena 3): The most interesting drama of February comes from Spain and it is produced by Bambú Producciones, the company behind Velvet and Grand Hotel (Gran Hotel), for Atresmedia Televisisión. 7-year old Alicia Vega disappears without a trace after her first communion. 10 days later, she's still missing and the police is convinced that the culprit is one of the guests at the ceremony or a member of the Vega family. 

Two undercover cops are sent to their village as husband and wife: maverick covert operations expert Victor Reyes (Yon González) and behaviour analyst Laura Cortés (Blanca Romero). Only Commissioner Casas (Lluís Homar) knows their true identities and their mission as they search answers amongst the secrets, lies and mysteries of the community.

Sold as "Broadchurch in Spain", Bajo Sospecha (10 x 75 minute episodes) is in fact the worthy successor to the beloved Grand Hotel, with which it shares not only three actors (González, Homar and Pedro Alonso as Alicia's father) but also some format similarities. There's even a nice nod to Gran Hotel in the premiere. It is not unreasonable to expect from this creation of Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira (developed by them with Adolfo Valor) the amount of twists and turns we had through the corridors of the luxurious hotel of Cantaloa.

Bajo Sospecha is produced by Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés and distributed by Beta Films. The (superb) music is by Federico Jusid.