Sunday, 25 December 2016


[Update - January 1, 2017] « One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. » (Again)

- Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio (BBC One, December 25). Clumsy and chatty nocturnal "homage" to the superhero genre. With an irritating sense of déjà vu, this Christmas... special is closer to Glen A. Larson's NightMan than to Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio manages to be not as annoying as the squeezing toy of the episode (alongside a Ghost action figure soon?) thanks to the interesting presence of Tomiwa Edun (Mr Brock) and Aleksandar Jovanovic (Dr Sim) in the guest cast. And it's nice to see Matt Lucas back as Nardole.

- Maigret's Dead Man (ITV, December 25). In these troubled times nothing is more Christmassy for ITV than a slaughter in Picardie or maybe they had to find an answer to BBC One's Christmas Agatha Christie. After Maigret Sets A Trap last March, comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson is back  as Commissaire Jules Maigret, the laconic, pipe-smoking French policeman created by Belgian author Georges Simenon.

Budapest doubles rather well as Paris and production values look great. Atkinson seems a bit more at ease but, how to put this nicely... He could be a perfect Commissaire Fowleur or Commissaire Blackaddeur but not Commissaire Maigret. We should humbly know as we had the definitive Maigret with the late Bruno Cremer. This said, BBC Worldwide (the distributor) is probably not worried given international sales and the very good ratings of Brit detective/crime dramas on France 3, which will show the 2016 Maigret adaptations here.

While we're at it, I still can't figure out the meaning of the lyrics on the beautiful theme composed by Samuel Sim. And I'm supposed to be French. Produced by Maigret Productions and Ealing Studios with Pioneer Stillking Films. Adapted by Stewart Harcourt and directed by Jon East.

- Revolting Rhymes (BBC One, December 26 & 27). Astute and charming 2 X 30-minute adaptation of the book written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. Another pure wonder from Magic Light Pictures, the company which gave us The Gruffalo (2009), The Gruffalo's Child (2011), Room on the Broom (2012) and Stick Man (2015). Adapted and directed by Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer. Co-directed by Bin-Han To. Animated at Magic Light Pictures, Berlin and Triggerfish Animation Studios, Cape Town. With the voices of Rob Brydon, Bertie Carvel, Gemma Chan, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Rose Leslie, Bel Powley, David Walliams and Dominic West.

- The Witness for the Prosecution - Part One (BBC One, December 26). This year's Christmas Agatha Christie. Compared to And Then There Were None (this adaptation is from the same prodco and writer) it's quite a disappointment. And it's darker... I'm talking about the lighting, of course. Who's the culprit? Mr Budget with a candlestick in the library? 

- Jonathan Creek: Daemon's Roost (BBC One, December 28). Alan Davies returns in his most famous role for this Christmas special of the mystery drama created by writer David Renwick. Launched in 1997, Jonathan Creek  has had its up and downs since Caroline Quentin, who played the duffel-coated sleuth's first partner Maddy Magellan, left in 2000. Thankfully, Daemon's Roost is pleasantly entertaining. Sarah Alexander is back as Jonathan's wife Polly and the legendary Warwick Davis steals the episode as Creek's self-proclaimed biggest fan Rev. Wendell Wilkie. Ken Bones guest stars as former Hammeresque film star Nathan Clore. Directed by Sandy Johnson.

Monday, 12 December 2016


Another eccentric/flawed sleuth joins TF1's French fiction line-up. After the android cop (Emma) and the irreverent lawyer (Munch) here comes Prof T., an asocial and phobic criminology professor.

Starring Mathieu Bisson, this 6 x 52-minute crime drama premiered on Belgian channel La Une last week, ahead of its French broadcast.

Produced by Vema Production with TF1, Stromboli Pictures, RTBF and RTS, Prof T. is actually based on Professor T., a Flemish series created by Paul Piedfort (Aspe) and launched in 2015 on Belgian channel Eén. The talented Koen De Bouw (Salamander, The Memory of a Killer) stars as Jasper Teerlinck, a brilliant but dysfunctional  professor in criminal psychology at the University of Antwerp. Human relationships are a challenge for the acerbic lecturer, who fears dirt (similarly to Monk) and proximity with people. Jasper despairs faculty secretary Ingrid Sneyers (Goele Derick) by never fulfilling his administrative duties. Only Walter De Paepe (Carry Goosens), dean of the university, considers his eccentricity with benevolence.

Police Inspector Annelies Donckers (Ella Leyers), an ex-student of Jasper Teerlinck, investigates the rape of a female student on the Campus Drie Eiken with her colleague Inspector Daan De Winter (Bart Hollanders). When they hit a brick wall, Annelies tries to convince Teerlinck to assist them. Chief Inspector Paul Rabet (Herwig Ilegems), who has personal issues, doesn't take it well. Christina Flamant (Tania Oostvogels), head of the detectives, already knows Jasper. Following the arrest of the campus rapist, Professor T. is hired by Christina as an advisor. His rich mother, Adelinde Van Marcke (Viviane De Muynck), is not enthusiastic. Maybe it has something to do with her son's frequent hallucinations?  

Professor T. (two 13 x one-hour seasons) rapidly goes beyond the "flawed sleuth" tropes of its premise to find its style with a certain melancholy and a bit of humour. The strong characterization is served by a great cast. The soundtrack is amazing, with a superb original music composed by Gregory Caron & Hannes De Maeyer and cool standards sung by Luigi Tenco or Will Ferdy (amongst others). Professor T. is produced by Skyline Entertainment (Salamander, Aspe) and distributed by Beta Film, which sells the format too. Novelist and scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau (Capitaine Marleau, Le secret d'Élise, Blood on the Docks) is behind the French adaptation, Prof T., set in Nantes with Mathieu Bisson as Pr. Julien Tardieu.

The Gaulic Professor T. is surrounded by Lieutenant Lise Doumère (Fleur Geffrier) and Dan Levasseur (Amir El Kacem). Christina Flamand (with a "D") and Paul Rabet are now played by Zoé Félix and Pierre Berriau. The excellent Mariamne Merlo plays Astrid Lestringent, the French Mrs Sneyers. The legendary character actor Jean Benguigui is Valéry D'Ormont, the local counterpart of De Paepe. Past the inevitable changes, Prof T. obliterates all the subtlety of its Flemish model right through the second episode with some (unnecessary) new material and an insistence on comedy. On the plus side, Mathieu Bisson convincingly composes his own version of the main character.

TF1 seems very confident as they commissioned a full season of Prof T. instead of a 2 x 52-minute pilot (Emma, Instinct, Contact). Just like Munch, which caught more than 6m viewers (24.5%) in September. If you don't already know the original please try to have a look at Professor T., a gem which makes you want to visit Antwerp and even learn Flemish. Prof T. is produced by Véronique Marchat. Original music composed by Christophe La Pinta. Filmed with the support of Région des Pays de la Loire. Directed by Nicolas Cuche. There's also a German adaptation called Professor T., produced by Rowboat Film- und Fernsehproduktion GmbH for ZDF and starring Matthias Matschke as Professor Jasper Thalheim.

Monday, 21 November 2016


Photo: Me watching the first episode of this new legal comedy/drama from TF1 (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

Some words ASAP.


Le Havre, terre de contraste and a rare bird.

- Blood on the Docks: Amours mortes (France 2): 

Last of the sixth 2 x 90-minute series of Deux flics sur les docks, starring Jean-Marc Barr and Bruno Solo as Le Havre police detectives Capitaine Richard Faraday and Capitaine Paul Winckler.

Amours mortes is an original story written by Olivier Prieur, loosely based on Graham Hurley's Joe Faraday novels. This rather effective episode, directed by Edwin Baily, is regrettably ruined by a cliche-esque case resolution. And the new status of Bazza Swaty (Emmanuel Salinger) at the end raises some doubts. Produced by Gétévé Productions with France Télévisions and the support of Région Haute-Normandie.

You can find a review of the previous episode here:

- Magellan et Mongeville (France 3):

The crossover is a "rare bird" in the History of French television fiction: the sitcoms produced for TF1 by AB Productions in the 1990s, an encounter between crime drama PJ (1997-2009) and legal drama Avocats et Associés (1998-2010) on France 2 in 2007, and then nothing until now. Created by Laurent Mondy, Commissaire Magellan started on France 3 in 2009. Produced by JLA Productions and set in the fictional town of Saignac (in the north of France), it stars Jacques Spiesser as Commissaire Simon Magellan.

Launched in 2013, Mongeville is a production from Son & Lumière created by Jacques Santamaria and starring Francis Perrin as Antoine Mongeville. Mongeville is a retired juge d'instruction who regularly assists police captain Valentine Duteil (played by Gaëlle Bona) in Bordeaux. Magellan and Mongeville are part of the popular French detective/crime drama line-up of France 3. They are very well done, like this most pleasant crossover where Magellan investigates a deadly hit-and-run whose suspect happens to be a former protégé of Mongeville.

Antoine Mongeville is a law school pal of Simon Magellan but they lost touch a long time ago. Mongeville and Valentine, on their way to London, are not far from Saignac and they team up with Simon. Never mind the far-fetched solution, this "reunion" is brought smartly, the characters have a good chemistry and great fun together. The actors look like they enjoyed the experience. Written by Céline Guyot & Martin Guyot. Directed by Étienne Dhaene. (Ratings)

Monday, 14 November 2016


The excellent French crime drama Blood on the Docks (Deux flics sur les docks) returned on pubcaster France 2 last Friday for a new series of two feature-length episodes.

Adapted from the Portsmouth based Joe Faraday novels by English crime fiction writer Graham Hurley, Deux flics sur les docks stars Jean-Marc Barr and Bruno Solo as Le Havre police detectives Capitaine Richard Faraday and Capitaine Paul Winckler.

Justices is an original story by Laurent Martin, loosely based on Graham Hurley's work. It is written by Bernard Marié & Olivier Prieur and directed by Edwin Baily. The body of  Linda Bertin, a young woman who disappeared five years ago during a Bastille Day firemen's ball, resurfaces in a waterproof bag discovered in the port waters. Because of a beret found in that bag, Richard Faraday suddenly doubts that Rémy Thouret, the young man he put in jail for murder, is the real culprit. He must reopen the case while Jean-Noël Vargas, Thouret's lawyer, is furious. 

Things get worse when Lulu, Faraday's deaf-mute son, is wounded in a deliberate road accident and kidnapped by a man who asks Richard to steal the beret inside the police station. Faraday goes it alone and stops at nothing to find Lulu vs a ruthless adversary. The cohesion of commissaire divisionnaire Dardenne's unit is threaten by the disappearance of the beret. Paul Winckler is briefly suspected of the proof theft when a trail leads to his pal Bazza Swaty, Le Havre's biggest mobster. This doesn't prevent Paul to give his colleague and friend Richard a helping hand in the pure Winckler tradition.

Justices marks with brilliance the sixth anniversary of Deux flics sur les docks, launched on November 11, 2011. Jean-Marc Barr and Bruno Solo are great. Emmanuel Salinger (Bazza) is fabulous in his two scenes and Sava Lolov delivers a noticeable performance as Vargas. Also with Mata Gabin (Commissaire divisionnaire Lucie Dardenne), Liza Manili (Lieutenant Julie Fabian), Guillaume Viry (Bill Gates), Jean-Marie Hall (Lulu Faraday), Julien Boulenguiez as Bazza's henchman Jimmy, Michel Scotto Di Carlo (Michel), Damien Leconte (Damien), Guillaume Marquet (Walter Leroy), Alyzée Costes (Linda Bertin), etc.

Deux flics sur les docks is produced by Gétévé Productions with France Télévisions and the support of Région Haute-Normandie. It is distributed by Zodiak Rights. Jacques Salles and Christian Charret are the producers. Muriel Paradis exec produces. Music by Canadian composer Pierre-Philippe Côté. Alex Arcoleo composed Antimatter, the collection's theme music. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


I feel better now. No more coughs and sneezes. And it's fantastic all those things you can do when you're not feverish.

- The Moonstone - Episode One (BBC One): 

- Death comes to Pemberley (French Region 2 DVD):


- Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (France 2):

- The Night Manager (France 3):

- Death comes to Pemberley/El Tiempo entre costuras (French Region 2 DVDs):

- Emma (TF1 - Ratings):

Monday, 31 October 2016


BBC Daytime, which delighted us with the wonderful The Indian Doctor (2010-2013) or the enjoyable Father Brown (since 2013), gives us another quality drama production with The Moonstone (2016).

This 5 x 45-minute period mystery, made for the BBC One afternoon schedule, is based on a book by Wilkie Collins published in 1868 and considered as the first detective novel in English.

It's 1849 and Franklin Blake, an adventurer, returns to England after the death of his father. Determined to win back the heart of Rachel Verinder, his cousin, he needs first to solve the theft of a priceless Indian diamond called the Moonstone. One year earlier, Franklin was charged with the gem's delivery to Rachel but the stone went missing after her 18th birthday party at the Verinder's family country house.

Adapted by Rachel Flowerday (Father Brown) and Sasha Hails (Casualty), The Moonstone is very well done and, like its aforementioned predecessors The Indian Doctor and Father Brown, definitely worthy of primetime. The five episodes, directed by Lisa Mulcahy (Red Rock), are aired all this week as a part of the BBC #LovetoRead season.

With Joshua Silver as Franklin Blake, Terenia Edwards (Rachel), Nisa Cole (Penelope), Leo Wringer (Gabriel Betteredge), Stewart Clarke (Godfrey Ablewhite), Jane McGrath (Rosanna Spearman), John Thomson (Sergent Cuff), Sarah Hadland (Miss Clack), etc. This excellent cast is blessed with the presence of David Calder (Mr Bruff), Guy Henry (Mr Murthwaite) and Sophie Ward (Lady Verinder).

The Moonstone is produced by King Bert Productions for BBC One Daytime, in association with BBC Learning. Executive produced by Jo Sargent and John Yorke (for King Bert Productions) and Dan McGolpin (for the BBC). Produced by Joanna Hanley. Music composed by Patrick Neil Doyle. Opening titles by Huge Designs.

Monday, 24 October 2016


In Death comes to Pemberley (2013), based on the book by P.D. James, the characters of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) are caught in a murder case investigation.

This sumptuous BBC period whodunnit is available since October 12 on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

English crime writer P.D. James (Phyllis Dorothy James, 1920-2014) is best known for the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries (1), 14 novels published between 1962 and 2008. Her other works include The Children of Men (1992), adapted as a 2006 film directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Death comes to Pemberley (2011), her sequel to Pride and Prejudice, is born from her love of both crime fiction and Jane Austen. Of course, Austen is a television favourite and the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (2), starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy, is a reference.

« It is a fine Pemberley tradition for the master of the house to be irritable on the eve of the ball. »

Aired in three parts on BBC One during Christmas 2013 and later in 2 x 90 minutes on American network PBS, Death comes to Pemberley is directed by Daniel Percival (Strike Back, The State Within) and written by Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls). Elizabeth and Darcy have been happily married for 6 years and they have a young son, Fitzwilliam. Elizabeth prepares the annual Lady Anne Ball at their magnificent Pemberley estate (« Ah yes, the chaperones' chairs. Yes, we ran short last year, Mrs Reynolds. ») Darcy’s younger sister Georgiana has two suitors, her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and Henry Alveston, a young lawyer. Elizabeth finds time to visit the Bidwell family as Will, the son of of Darcy's head coachman Mr Bidwell, is dying.

Later the Darcys welcome Mr and Mrs Bennet, Elizabeth's parents. Married to the ne'er do well George Wickham (« Am I never to get that man out of my life? »), Lydia, their youngest child, is not invited. But on the eve of the great day she tumbles out of a carriage screaming murder and leads Darcy's search party into the Pemberley woods. There, her husband is found near a dead man, covered with his blood. Darcy has to inform Sir Selwyn Hardcastle, the local magistrate. Thanks to its source material and a convincing cast, Death comes to Pemberley successfully combines two of the most popular TV genres: period drama and crime/detective drama.

« You've brought such laughter to Pemberley, Elizabeth. »

Starring Welsh actor Matthew Rhys (The Americans, Brothers and Sisters) as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin (The Bletchley Circle) as Elizabeth, Matthew Goode (Wickham), Trevor Eve (Sir Selwyn), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as Lydia, Rebecca Front (Lewis) as Mrs Bennet, James Fleet (Mr Bennet), Eleanor Tomlinson (Georgiana), etc. James Norton, who plays Alveston, stars in ITV's detective series Grantchester. Colonel Fitzwilliam is performed by Tom Ward (Silent Witness), who played Lieutenant Chamberlayne in Pride and Prejudice. Is there a ghost in the woods of Pemberley? Why is poachers a "delicate ground" between the Darcy and Hardcastle families? Who is the mysterious Mrs Younge?

Produced by Origin Pictures with Masterpiece in association with Far Moor Media and Lipsync Productions. Supported by the Yorkshire Content Fund, Screen Yorkshire and the European Regional Development Fund. Exec produced by Ed Rubin, Joanna Blackie and P.D. James. David M. Thompson and Eliza Mellor are the producers. Steve Lawes is the cinematographer. Music composed by The Insects (Tim Norfolk and Bob Locke). Filmed in Yorkshire and Derbyshire (Chatsworth House was used as the exterior of Pemberley). The one-disc DVD set of Death comes to Pemberley from Koba Films contains the 2 x 90-minute version with the original dialogue track, subtitled or not.

(1) Roy Marsden portrayed Adam Dalgliesh on television from 1983 to 1998 for ITV. Martin Shaw played the character for the BBC in 2003-2004.
(2) Available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

Monday, 17 October 2016


From today antibiotics are my new best friends, so "normal service" of this little blog should (hopefully) resume in November.

Currently working on late reviews (DVDs, books).

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


The filming of two new episodes of French pubcaster France 2's hit crime/comedy series Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie has started this week in and around Lille.

Starring Samuel Labarthe (Commissaire Laurence), Blandine Bellavoir (Alice Avril) and Élodie Frenck (Marlène), these two episodes are Le miroir se brisa and L'homme au complet marron. They are both directed by Rodolphe Tissot (The Churchmen/Ainsi soient-ils).

Le miroir se brisa is adapted from Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Jennifer Have and Zina Modiano. L'homme au complet marron is based on The Man in the Brown Suit and written by Thierry Debroux. A regrettable drop in the quality of the recent batch of episodes (see our reviews) didn't damage the popularity of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie.

Filming will take place until December. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Escazal Films and France Télévisions, with the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France.


The Night Manager, the brilliant six-part television adaptation of the book written by spy novelist John le Carré (the pen name of David Cornwell), premieres tomorrow in France on pubcaster France 3

This big-budget co-production for the BBC and American cable channel AMC stars Tom Hiddleston (best known as Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies), Hugh Laurie (House), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), Tom Hollander and Elizabeth Debicki.

The Night Manager marks the return of the work of John le Carré on television 25 years after a TV movie based on A Murder of Quality, and almost 40 years since the BBC version of Tailor Tinker Sailor Spy. Penned by David Farr (Spooks) and helmed by Danish Academy Award-winning director Susanne Bier (Serena), The Night Manager is a clever update of le Carré's 1993 novel on the scale of a James Bond film. Stephen Cornwell and his brother Simon, the author's sons, are behind it through their prodco The Ink Factory. For the big screen they produced Our Kind of Traitor (2016) and A Most Wanted Man (2014), both from novels by their father.

The Night Manager is centered on Jonathan Pyne (Tom Hiddleston), an ex-soldier turned night manager of a luxury hotel in Cairo. At the height of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Jonathan  receives a plea for help from Sophie Alekan, an elegant and enigmatic guest who's the mistress of playboy Freddie Hamid. Hamid is an associate of Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie), a British arms dealer posing as a businessman and philanthropist. Pyne makes a decision whose tragic consequences haunt him for ever. Four years later, he works for a prestigious hotel in Switzerland when Roper arrives with his girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) and his entourage.

Jonathan Pyne accepts to infiltrate the inner circle of "the worst man in the world" under the supervision of British intelligence operative Angela Burr (Olivia Colman). The Night Manager was filmed in Switzerland, United Kingdom, Morocco, Spain and Turkey (each episode cost £3 million). Produced by The Ink Factory in association with Demarest Films and Character 7 for the BBC and AMC. Exec produced by Stephen Garrett (former head of Kudos), Simon Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell. Rob Bullock is the producer. Music by Spanish composer Victor Reyes (Los nuestros). Michael Snyman is the cinematographer. Opening titles made by Elastic (The Leftovers, True Detective).

Sophie is played by French actress Aure Atika. Though John le carré's book is titled Le directeur de nuit in French, the serial arrives on France 3 as The [pronounced "ZE"] Night Manager: L'espion aux deux visages ("The Night Manager: The spy with two faces"). Swiss TV aired it this summer as The Night Manager. Between Wiseguy (Stephen J. Cannell's show), Shakespeare and the aforementioned Spooks, The Night Manager is pure Must Watch TV in every department, starting with its solid ensemble cast. On BBC One each of the six one-hour episodes caught more than 6m viewers overnight.

Our February 2016 review of the first episode:

Monday, 10 October 2016


Death comes to Pemberley (2013) will be available this wednesday on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films. This BBC serial adaptation of the P.D. James novel  successfully combines two of the most popular TV genres: period drama and crime drama.
Also available on wednesday on DVD from Koba, El Tiempo entre costuras (The Time in Between), a lavish 2013 Spanish drama based on the novel by María Dueñas. It has to be noted that the DVD set has both the French dubbing and the original Spanish dialogue track.

[Update - February 13, 2017]

Friday, 7 October 2016


The horror! The horror! Pandora's box has been opened...

Officer Grumpy and his female android partner Vicki Yoyonovitch caught 4.966.000 viewers (21.5%) on TF1 with the pathetically bad two-part pilot of Emma (see our humble opinion here).

Now be prepared for the bionic cop, the invisible cop with a Dermaplex mask, the invisible cop with a quartz watch, the cop struck by lightning, the cop from Atlantis, the alien cop, the hologram cop, the invisible cop with a "Quicksilver gland"... The possibilities are infinite. Eccentric/irreverent police consultants will run to job centers while Harlan Coben's characters will stop running. This is the end of the world as we know it.

A full 8 x 52-minute series of Emma could be commissioned by TF1.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


Right now I'm too busy coughing and sneezing (and impersonating Marlon Brando in The Godfather) for the usual reviews.

- Timeless (NBC):

[Spoiler-Free] NBC's new sci-fi drama is accused of being a rip-off of El Ministerio del Tiempo, the acclaimed Spanish sci-fi/adventure series. Javier Olivares, co-creator of El Ministerio del Tiempo with his late brother Pablo, expressed his irritation against the similarities between the two formats. Onza, the distributor, sued the parties behind the conception of Timeless, claiming that some of them were involved in discussions about an American version of El Ministerio del Tiempo. The Spanish format has already been sold in Portugal, China and France. 

Though there are (indeed) a few similarities between the US and Spanish dramas, the premiere of Timeless is more in line with shows like Seven Days, The Time Tunnel or Sliders. Clichéed beyond reasonable but competently packed, this first hour has neither the charm, nor the specific humour or even the spirit of El Ministerio del Tiempo. Of course, it paves the way for the mandatory mythology. There's the legendary Matt Frewer and a time machine which looks like the CBS logo. The main asset of Timeless is undoubtedly actor Malcolm Barrett

We'll leave the rest to legal experts and we'll stick to El Ministerio del Tiempo, one of the best contemporary television series. Timeless stars Abigail Spencer (Lucy Preston), Matt Lanter (Wyatt Logan), Malcolm Barrett (Rufus Carlin), Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey, Goran Visnjic, etc. Created by Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan. Produced by MiddKid Productions, Kripke Enterprises and Davis Entertainment for Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television. 

- Emma (TF1):

A veteran cop is assigned a new partner, who's actually an experimental android. Holmes & Yoyo? No. Future Cop? No. Total Recall 2070? Wrong. It's Emma, a 2 x 52-minute pilot for a new French crime drama which premieres on TF1 this thursday. A grumpy detective, a weird police intern who could be Spock's cousin (or Vicki from Small Wonder as a cop), literal jokes, "Emma is a fourth generation android.", Asimov's three laws... Well, it's really as bad as it sounds.

Meanwhile, still no new episodes of TF1's Instinct in spite of the 5.533.000 viewers (22%) of its enjoyable two-part pilot in January 2016. Emma stars Patrick Ridremont (Commandant Fred Vitulo), Solène Hébert (Emma Faure), Slimane Yefsah, Sabrina Seyvecou, Vanessa Larré, Sophie Rodrigues, Mathieu Delarive, etc. Created by Manon Dillys and Sébastien Le Délézir. Produced by Mandarin Télévision with TF1.

Monday, 3 October 2016


I don't feel better but here's a recap of last month's reviews, news (and the "almost"). Please do accept my apologies for possible coughs and sneezes.

- Alain Carrazé - Les nouveaux feuilletonistes (Fantask): (Complete review of this great book ASAP)

- Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (France 2): (Les mystères de la foi - From April 2016 but France 3 aired this episode in September 2016) 

- Grand Hotel (Second half of S3, French Region 2 DVD): 
- Capitaine Marleau (France 3): (Philippe Muir - Ratings of the repeat) (Les mystères de la foi - Ratings)


Some words about Albert Major parlait trop (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie), Lucifer, Red Dwarf, and the dreadful 2016 version of MacGyver.

Next Time

Received a few things for the blog: the DVD sets of Death comes to Pemberley (2013) and El Tiempo entre costuras (2013) from Koba Films. Also The Callan File, an amazing book about Callan, the classic spy series starring Edward Woodward. You can send me paracetamol as well, I'll gladly accept it...

Saturday, 24 September 2016


Finishing the week quite unwell, I'm afraid. What is cool now is that I can do a perfect impersonation of famous French news anchor Yves Mourousi...

I didn't hate the latest episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (Albert Major parlait trop). I didn't like it either but at least it was an improvement over the abysmal La mystérieuse affaire de Styles.

Credit must be given to scriptwriters Jeanne Le Guillou and Bruno Dega for what could have been a good Larosière & Lampion. People die a lot in Les petits meurtres but the two writers brought back some life in it. Yes, I know for the ratings, folks... Don't make me yell at you, I just can't (laughs).

I enjoyed the return of Lucifer. Smiled but rarely laughed with the first episode of Red Dwarf XI (I prefer the opener of the previous series) and, though I had an open mind about the project, I could find half a dozen things I don't like in MacGyver 2016 (maybe more actually). Its only quality is that you want to watch the original series again.

Oh, please allow me to remind you that there's a great book on TV series available since yesterday.

Thursday, 22 September 2016


Spanish pubcaster RTVE has announced today that El Ministerio del Tiempo will (finally) have a third series.

Four months after the end of Series 2, the board of TVE has greenlit 13 new episodes of the acclaimed sci-fi/adventure drama El Ministerio del Tiempo. Though ratings suffered during its second series, the creation of Pablo Olivares & Javier Olivares (Victor Ros, Isabel) is more than ever a pop culture phenomenon in Spain and gained a solid fanbase outside its country even before it started to interest foreign markets.

Produced by Cliffhanger TV, Onza Entertainment and RTVE, El Ministerio del Tiempo is one of the best contemporary television series and it's also (without exaggeration) a fantastic cultural ambassador of Spain. Starring Rodolfo Sancho (Julián Martínez), Aura Garrido (Amelia Folch), Nacho Fresneda (Alonso de Entrerríos), Cayetana Guillén Cuervo (Irene Larra), Juan Gea (Ernesto Jiménez), Francesca Piñón (Angustias Vázquez) and Jaime Blanch (Salvador Martí). Hugo Silva played Pacino in Series 2.

You can find spoiler-free reviews of episodes 1 to 11 of the second series on this blog. Episodes 12 and 13 were not reviewed due to unforeseen circumstances.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


OK, it's another post about Capitaine Marleau but judging from the stats of our little blog this month no one will complain.  

France 3's crime drama is a favourite here since even before the French pubcaster aired the pilot. Now Marleau is a certified phenomenon.

A repeat of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the pilot of Capitaine Marleau, caught 4.533.000 viewers (19.6%) and ranked #1 against Blindspot on TF1! In September 2015, Philippe Muir drew 3.731.000 viewers (15.3%) for its first transmission. Brouillard en Thalasso, the fourth episode, hit a rating record for the series last week with 4.608.000 viewers (20%) and ranked #2 against the premiere of Blindspot

France 3 will air En trompe l'oeil, the brilliant fifth episode, at the beginning of 2017 (1). It guest stars Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) and Aure Atika (The Night Manager). A sixth Marleau will start filming in October with guest star Sandrine Bonnaire.

(1) According to Capitaine Marleau helmer/producer Josée Dayan in Le grand direct des médias on radio Europe 1 yesterday.

See also: 


French journalist Alain Carrazé is an acknowledged expert on TV series. Les nouveaux feuilletonistes, his new book (published by Fantask), will be available on Friday. It's an anthology of more than 30 years of his interviews with the greatest series creators, writers, producers, actors and directors.

The interviews are introduced with the context of these encounters and are followed, not only by a few lines about what happened next, but also with interviews of personalities mentioned during the main conversations. The book is divided in eras: The Great Classics, The Golden Age of the 1980s to 1990s and The new generation.

The "cast" of Les nouveaux feuilletonistes is stellar: Brian Clemens, Patrick Macnee, Martin Landau, Robert Conrad, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick McGoohan, Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, Steven Bochco, Stephen J. Cannell, Donald Bellisario, Dick Wolf, Michael Mann, Mark Frost, Kyle MacLachlan, Matt Groening, Chris Carter, Gillian Anderson, Patrick Stewart, James Gandolfini, Joss Whedon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ted Danson, Kiefer Sutherland, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Sue Vertue, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, George R.R. Martin, etc...

Les nouveaux feuilletonistes is absorbing, generous and essential. A must-read book for those interested in TV series.

Les nouveaux feuilletonistes 
by Alain Carrazé (with the participation of Romain Nigita)
656 pages
EAN : 9782374940069
27 € (Referenced under its working title Mes grands entretiens) (Referenced under its working title Mes grands entretiens)

Friday, 16 September 2016


[Spoiler-Free] In which Swan Laurence worries about a decline. And it's not the quality of the episode.

The bottom line:  « J'ai touché le fond de la piscine... » 

Émilie Beauregard, 60, owns the luxurious Styles beauty institute. She's married to the much younger Adrien Sauvignac, a masseur. Journalist Martial Marchetti arrives at the establishment and Sauvignac immediately catches his attention. Ève Constantin, Émilie Beauregard's business partner, tells Commissaire Laurence that she fears the young man wants to get rid of Émilie for her fortune but Swan ignores her. In fact, Laurence has a very personal concern as he doesn't take his birthday well.

Marlène and reporter Alice Avril go to Styles, where Émilie Beauregard mistakes them for a lesbian couple. Later, Marlène finds Marchetti dead in the bottom of the pool of the institute. Laurence investigates and meets Diane Clément-Roussel, a customer of Styles. Meanwhile Alice finds... her mother. What goes up must come down, they say: Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie returned on August 26 on French pubcaster France 2 with the brilliant L'étrange enlèvement du petit Bruno. Then it regrettably started to lose steam with Le cheval pâle. The following week things got worse with L'affaire Protheroe.

Directed by Éric Woreth, La mystérieuse affaire de Styles is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Pierre Linhart. In this catastrophe, the dynamic trio Laurence/Avril/Marlène is neither dynamic (weariness shows) nor a trio. Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) has not one but two embarrassing moments plus a couple of terrible lines. Since last week a photo of Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) illustrates the definition of "Pathos" in the dictionary. At some point you see a soap opera development coming but you hope they won't dare. Unfortunately they do. Marlène (Élodie Frenck) tries hard to bear the burden of comic relief alone. 

This year the pathologist of the commissariat seems to be the equivalent of the secretary in Murphy Brown (though the new one is an improvement over Dr. Everest). About the commissariat, fans noticed that it looks different. Actually the big budget hit series had to leave its production base in Tourcoing because the site was sold by the municipality. Thankfully another place was found in the same town at the beginning of 2016. Frédérique Tirmont (Émilie Beauregard), Sophie Cattani (Ève Constantin), Alexia Barlier (Diane Clément-Roussel), Andy Gillet (Adrien Sauvignac), Charlie Joirkin (Dorothée Mellul) and Frédéric Fisbach (Professor Hoffman) are amongst the guest stars of this episode. 

Cyril Gueï plays the pathologist (of the week?) Timothée Glissant. Dominique Thomas is Tricard. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is produced by Sophie Révil for Escazal Films. France Télévisions is now co-producer. With the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France. Also with the participation of TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha. The Styles institute is in fact the Najeti Hôtel Château at Tilques (Pas-de-Calais). In terms of ratings, Les petits meurtres is more popular than ever. La mystérieuse affaire de Styles caught 4.553.000 viewers (19.1%) and ranked #2 against the French version of Survivor on TF1.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Yes, it's kind of Capitaine Marleau month on the blog. But as we (humbly) support France 3's crime drama since even before the French pubcaster aired the pilot we couldn't resist to post about those numbers.

Brouillard en Thalasso, the fourth episode, hit a rating record for the series yesterday with 4.608.000 viewers (20%) and ranked #2 against the premiere of Blindspot on TF1.

Amusingly, Swiss channel RTS Un also aired a Marleau yesterday: En trompe l'oeil, the next episode. Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) and Aure Atika (The Night Manager) guest star and it's brilliant.

See also:
(Brouillard en Thalasso)
(En trompe l'oeil)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


[Spoiler-Free] Elsa Floriot, an au pair girl who takes care of the son of famous crime novelist Gilles Garin, is murdered during a big party at the author's manor.

Called on the scene, Capitaine Marleau of the Gendarmerie meets Garin, who offers to put his "science of crime" at her service.

As the capitaine explores the manor, the entourage of the novelist provides to her and Adjudant Tahar further suspects. Marc Durieux, an unsuccessful composer of "musique concrète", is Gilles Garin's brother-in-law. Cédric Aurier is the private tutor of Alex, Garin's 10-year old son, and he aspires to become a novelist. Judith Garin is Gilles's wife but also her publisher. Both live in the memory of a tragedy which happened four years ago and she's convinced that her husband had an affair with Elsa.

"The master of crime fiction" displays the same consummate art of smoke screens and red herrings he uses in his novels. Marleau isn't fooled, even when he brings her a suspect on a plate: Corinne Vidal, his ultimate fangirl, who thinks she's Gilles Garin's recurring heroine Blanche Saint-Léger! Helmed by series director and producer Josée Dayan, En trompe l'oeil is the brilliant fifth episode of France 3's definitely popular crime drama Capitaine Marleau (1). It's penned by Marc-Antoine Laurent and Jean-Marc Taba (both wrote Visa pour l'enfer, an episode of Blood on the Docks) with Série Noire author and scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau. Marpeau is the Capitaine Marleau series creator.

Corinne Masiero shines as Capitaine Marleau (no first-name), an offbeat cop between Columbo (2), Vera and French comedian Coluche, alongside movie and stage legend Pierre Arditi as Garin. Since 2011 he's Benjamin Lebel, the wine expert detective of Blood of the Vine (Le sang de la vigne), another of the numerous French hit crime dramas of France 3. Aure Atika (The Night Manager) plays Garin's wife Judith. The writers have fun with tropes of the mystery/crime genre in an atmosphere half-Agatha Christie, half-Chabrol. Of course, they deliver those great dialogues which contribute to the popularity of Marleau.

Josée Dayan always gets the best of her cast. Michel Fau (Marc) and Cyrille Eldin (Cédric) works again together after the play Fleur de cactus in 2015. Sophie Quinton is Corinne, the schizoid Nancy Drew. Adjudant Tahar is performed by Kader Boukhanef. In a nod to her role in Navarro (1989-2006), Catherine Allegret plays Fanny Brun, who owns a hotel restaurant (3). Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films, with R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge), RTS Radio Télévision Suisse (which aired the episode this tuesday) and France TélévisionsMusic by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Filmed in April 2016, mainly in Tournan-en-Brie (Région Île-de-France). 

(1) 4.608.000 viewers (20%) for the fourth episode.
(2) An acknowledged source of inspiration of the character. There are regular references and nods to Columbo in Capitaine Marleau.
(3) French viewers will also recognize actor Nicolas Carpentier, well-known here for the Renault adverts.

[Update - September 16, 2016] France 3 has just axed Blood of the Vine (

Friday, 9 September 2016


[Spoiler-Free] Someone is murdered at a luxury thalassotherapy hotel and spa owned by Luc and Milena Férey. Capitaine Marleau (of the Gendamerie) investigates. Marin Cibié, a homeless young man, is arrested but she's rapidly convinced of his innocence. 

Choreographer Garance Thibaut, who lives at the establishment and had an argument with the victim before his death, is amongst the suspects.
Superbly directed by series helmer and producer Josée Dayan, Brouillard en thalasso is the fourth episode of France 3's crime drama Capitaine Marleau. It's the second episode written by Stéphan Guérin-Tillié after Les mystères de la foi. The great dialogues include the usual humour but also social and political references: the state of emergency, the protesters of République, DSK, etc. Played brilliantly by Corinne Masiero, Marleau (no first name) tries thalassotherapy while keeping an eye on her suspects. The colourful capitaine helps the young Marin, whose situation echoes her own past. She's assisted by Brigadier Brière and Michel, an old unemployed computer expert (1).

The guest cast is excellent. Muriel Robin, who works frequently with Josée Dayan, plays Garance Thibaut. Amusingly, the comedian and actress co-starred in Entre vents et marées, Dayan's 2014 miniseries, where Corinne Masiero first appeared as Capitaine Marleau (then a secondary character) (2). Also with Claire Nebout (Milena Férey), Bruno Todeschini (Luc Férey), Frédéric Van Den Driessche (Paul Thibaut), Alain-Fabien Delon (Marin Cibié), Pierre Perrier (Clément Thibaut) and Jean-Claude de Goros (Michel). Aymeric Demarigny returns as Brière after the previous episode and the character has some funny moments. Vladimir Lipinski is performed by dancer/choreographer Julien Derouault

Derouault is behind the choreography of the dance scenes, in which the dancers from the Théâtre du Corps Pietragalla-Derouault participate. Brouillard en thalasso is the best episode since Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the pilot. The series, created by novelist and scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau, is produced by Josée Dayan's company Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co with To Do Today Productions, R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge), RTS Radio Télévision Suisse and France TélévisionsProduced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. François Bennaceur is the associate producer. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn.

Stefan Ivanov is the cinematographer and Yves Langlois is the editor. Brouillard en Thalasso was filmed in March 2016 in Alsace, mainly at the hôtel casino Barrière of Ribeauvillé. Produced with the support of Strasbourg Eurométropole and Région Alsace Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine. Production moved to Tournan-en-Brie, in the Région Île-de-France for the fifth Marleau, which guest stars Pierre Arditi (Blood of the Vine) and Aure Atika (The Night Manager). Brouillard en Thalasso, aired yesterday on Swiss channel RTS Deux, will be shown next tuesday on France 3.

(1) His dogs are named "Léon" and "Zitrone". Like French journalist and presenter Léon Zitrone (1914-1995).
(2) In Entre vents et marées, Muriel Robin played Cécile Prigent.


[Spoiler-Free] Hélène Jouve, the secretary of adman Alexandre Protheroe, is found dead at her workplace. Commissaire Laurence suspects her odious boss of murder.

Hélène's fiance Damien, a friend of Alice Avril, ask the reporter to investigate. Hollywood movie star Deborah Davis arrives in town and she seems to know Protheroe more than professionally.

The bottom line: Should we start to worry about Les petits meurtres? (Part Deux)

It took no less than four scriptwriters to adapt Agatha Christie's novel The Murder at the Vicarage (Pierre Linhart, Marc Angelo, Thierry Debroux and Daniel Saint-Hamont) for L'affaire Protheroe. Laurence (Samuel Labarthe), Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) and Marlène (Élodie Frenck) hang around with a palpable weariness during 90 minutes of another departure from the series' trademark fast-paced crime comedy (after Le cheval pâle). Marlène, who had the closest thing to a "Jump The Shark moment" last week, literally becomes her own parody.

The extraordinary Julien Boisselier steals the episode as the sinister Alexandre Protheroe. Also starring Laure Marsac (Deborah Davis), Clémentine Baert (Anne Protheroe), Sébastien Lalanne (Tristan Julliard), Roxanne Tessier (Lise Protheroe), Théo Costa Marini (Damien Martinez), etc. Docteur Everest, the new pathologist, is played by Karine Dubernet. Dominique Thomas plays Tricard. Robert Jourdeuil is performed by François Godart.

L'affaire Protheroe is cleverly helmed by new series director Olivier Panchot. 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 (which aired this episode in August). Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha,147117.php

See also: (Le cheval pâle) (L'étrange enlèvement du petit Bruno