Thursday, 30 June 2016


Goodnight Mister Tom (1998) is a wonderful film for television based on a children's novel by English author Michelle Magorian first published in 1981. Starring the great John Thaw (Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse), it is available on DVD in France since the end of last year thanks to Koba Films and L'atelier d'images.
At the beginning of World War II, children from London are evacuated to the countryside. Tom Oakley, a lonely and grumpy old man who lives in an English village, is forced to look after one of the evacuees: a 9-year old shy boy named William Beech. Tom finds out that William is beaten by his mother, an extremely religious woman. He provides him with new clothes and teaches him how to read and write when the village schoolteacher, Mrs Hartridge, learns the child's illiteracy.

Willie befriends a Jewish boy, Zacharias "Zach" Wrench, while Tom accepts to play organ at the church. Both are transformed by each other's presence. But soon after William's tenth birthday, Mrs Beech requests that her son returns to her in London as she claims to be ill. Left without news of the boy after one month, Oakley decides to travel to London. Produced by Carlton Television for ITV, Goodnight Mister Tom is a truly heartwarming adaptation of Michelle Magorian's classic written by Brian Finch (Coronation Street) and directed by Jack Gold (Escape from Sobibor, The Medusa Touch).

The 101-minute TV movie is blessed with an absolutely magnificent performance by John Thaw as Tom Oakley. Goodnight Mister Tom is another collaboration of the revered English actor with executive producer Ted Childs (Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse, The Sweeney) (1) and producer Chris Burt (Inspector Morse). William Beech is played by Nick Robinson. Annabelle Apsion plays the quite frightening Mrs Beech. The music was composed by Carl Davis (Coming Home, Pride and Prejudice). Translated in 13 languages, the book was also adapted as a play and a musical.  

The DVD from Koba Films contains the original dialogue track (subtitled or not) and the French dubbing.

(1) The other executive producer of Goodnight Mister Tom is Children's TV producer Lewis Rudd.

Friday, 24 June 2016


We're accustomed to working on this blog under unfavorable circumstances but since a few months it's getting more and more complicated (really). Ironically it coincides with its relaunch last december.

Maybe we infuriated a deity with a negative review, or we're cursed, or we're the kind of person who gets a piano on his/her head when in the street. Or two pianos...

Anyway, pianos or not, we will go on with this little blog because your interest never declined. Thank you for this interest, your trust and your comprehension. Never give up, etc.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


[Spoiler-Free] The chairman of the Ancombe parish council is found dead near the local wellspring. 

He was about to cast his vote over whether to allow the lorries of the Ancombe Water company an access to the water through the village.

Agatha Raisin is back on track after last week's lacklustre and quite worrying Hell's Bells. Directed by Paul Harrison (Trollied), The Wellspring of Death is adapted from M.C. Beaton's novel Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (1998) by Stewart Harcourt. Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is ready to attend the pub quiz when Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) offers her a well-paid freelance PR gig... for Ancombe Water. She refuses but changes her mind when James Lacey and his new girlfriend Mary Fortune decide to investigate the death of the parish council chairman.

Aggie displays her PR magic to the Ancombe villagers and Ancombe Water boss Guy Freemont is under her spell. Jealous of Mary Fortune, she decides to find the killer before James and Mary, with the assistance of Gemma (Katy Wix). DCI Wilkes is inspired by Inspector Morse, which would be reassuring in some respects but his main suspect is a persian cat. James doesn't like to be Mary's "Watson". Agatha's product launch is ruined by a demonstration and another murder.

Everything you expect from the TV version of the Agatha Raisin books is in this excellent episode: Agatha and her London PR queen manners in the Cotswold equivalent of Midsomer County, her complicated love life, some rural comedy à la Doc Martin, the totally clueless cops, etc. The only one who truly believes he's in your average detective drama is DCI Wilkes (the fantastic Jason Barnett). English actor and singer Jules Knight (Holby City) is very good as Guy Freemont. Let's hope the rest of the series is like this episode.

Also with Jamie Glover (James Lacey), Matt McCooey (DC Bill Wong), June Watson (Mrs Josephs), Daisy Beaumont (Mary Fortune) and Ron Donachie, Elizabeth Hopper, etc. Produced by Mammoth Screen and Free@Last TV for Sky. Michelle Buck and Stewart Harcourt are the executive producers for Mammoth Screen. Barry Ryan and David Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Produced by Matthew Mulot. Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Christopher Willis. Titles by Light Creative. Distributed by Sky Vision.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


Felicity Ford, a forest ranger, is blinded by mysterious lights while driving by night between Midsomer Stanton and... Well, not this week.

Midsomer Murders, the venerable ITV detective drama, usually returns in France in April (since a few years) but series 18 started last week on France 3. Except that this sunday the public broadcaster aired episode 2... of series 16, Let Us Prey. And not The Incident at Cooper Hill (1).

Habeas Corpus, the eighteenth series premiere, impressively caught 3.307.000 viewers (13%) vs an Euro 2016 football match (Germany/Ukraine) on TF1 and France 3 was ranked #2. Tonight the match was Switzerland/France (on M6) so maybe the channel didn't want to hurt the rating numbers of a brand new episode against a match of the national football team.

What is less understandable is the choice of Let Us Prey for this repeat as there's a village facing a flood in it. So soon after the similar events which hit several parts of France.

(1) The Incident at Cooper Hill is announced for next sunday.

Friday, 17 June 2016


Following the success of Maigret Sets a Trap earlier this year, ITV has announced the commission of two further single films of Maigret with Rowan Atkinson as the detective created by Belgian author Georges Simenon.

The two new films will be adapted from the novels Maigret At The Crossroads (La nuit du carrefour) and Maigret in Montmartre (Maigret au Picratt's). They'll go into production in November 2016 until February 2017. Maigret started to raise interest worldwide even before ITV aired Maigret Sets a Trap, the first of its two 2016 TV movies, thanks to the choice of English comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson (famous globally for Mr Bean).

Maigret Sets a Trap, adapted from the novel Maigret tend un piège, caught 5.7m viewers (28%) in March. Maigret's Dead Man, based on Maigret et son mort, will air on ITV later this year. Stewart Harcourt (Agatha Raisin, Agatha Christie's Marple) adapted both and will also adapt Maigret At The Crossroads. Maigret is produced by Ealing Studios with Maigret Productions Ltd (a Peters Fraser Dunlop Group company) and distributed by BBC Worldwide. Pubcaster France 3 will air it in France. It's the French home of Midsomer Murders, Endeavour, Vera, etc. 

You can read our (unenthusiastic) review of Maigret Sets a Trap here:

See also:

Thursday, 16 June 2016


[Spoiler-Free] Amanda Barton is the self-proclaimed leader of the church bell ringers for the visit of the bishop. 

When she's found hanged in the belfry with a suicide note left beside her, Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is not convinced she took her own life.

The bottom line: Who's the culprit? Colonel Mustard? The source material? The script? The budget? The actors schedule?

Based on a namesake short story by mystery author M.C. Beaton, Hell's Bells, the second episode of the eight-part series, is a bit of a disappointment compared to the brilliant premiere and the wonderful Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (the 2014 Christmas special). Both set the bar very high for the TV version of the Agatha Raisin books but Stewart Harcourt, who penned this second episode, was behind the adaptation of The Quiche of Death. So the lack of vitality, the absence of the usual dynamic between the main characters, and the conventionality of Hell's Bells are quite a surprise.

Agatha Raisin looks rather bored as Carsely's resident Miss Marple, already a seasoned detective after only two cases. The novel Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death was published in 1992, Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley in 1995 and Hell's Bells in... 2013. Maybe the short story was an odd choice for a third appearance of the character on television. Anyway, it's the kind of lacklustre episode you don't expect so early. Should we start to worry about Sky's little gem? At least there are a couple of good lines and, thanks to Katy Wix and Mathew Horne, a nice comedy act by Gemma and Roy in Marlowe's office near the end.

Also with Jamie Glover (James Lacey), Matt McCooey (DC Bill Wong), Jason Barnett (DCI Wilkes), June Watson (Mrs Josephs), Rhashan Stone (Reverend Jez Bloxby), Lucy Liemann (Sarah Bloxby) and Daisy Beaumont (Mary Fortune), Sally Bretton (Amanda Barton), Michael Byrne, etc. Produced by Mammoth Screen and Free@Last TV for Sky. Michelle Buck and Stewart Harcourt are the executive producers for Mammoth Screen. Barry Ryan and David Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Produced by Matthew Mulot. Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Christopher Willis. Titles by Light Creative. Distributed by Sky Vision. Directed by Geoffrey Sax.

Monday, 13 June 2016


Midsomer Murders, the venerable ITV detective drama, usually returns in France in April (since a few years) but Series 18 premiered yesterday on pubcaster France 3.

The episode caught 3.307.000 viewers (13%). It's not only better than the launch of the previous series (2.6m/10%), it's also impressive considering that France 3 is #2 against an Euro 2016 football match.

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

Series 18 reviews on this blog (Spoiler-Free):

Thursday, 9 June 2016


- New Blood: « Hello, I'm a cool and edgy crime drama. Do you like me? »
- Grumpy TV blogger: « Sorry... but no. »
- New Blood: « But I'm modern. And we have Hercules from Atlantis.»
- Grumpy TV blogger: « Oh... »

Review if possible. Or see Last month on this blog (or not) in July.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


There's a murder near Carsely, a picturesque English village in the Cotswolds region, and former London PR queen turned amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin is on the case.

Agatha Raisin first appeared in a series of mystery novels written by M.C. Beaton (the pseudonym of Marion Chesney), who's also the author of the Hamish Macbeth books. Penelope Keith played the character for BBC Radio 4 from 2004 to 2006. In 2014, Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty, Extras) starred in the title role of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, a fun, fast-paced and charming Christmas special aired on Sky 1 (1). Adapted from the first book by screenwriter Stewart Harcourt (Agatha Christie's Marple), this production Mammoth Screen (Endeavour) and Free@Last TV was directed by Geoffrey Sax (Doctor Who).

Following the success of The Quiche of Death, Sky commissioned a 8 X 60-minute series which started this week. In Walkers of Dembley, based on Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton, Agatha Raisin prepares a charity film event for local baronet Charles "Charlie" Fraith. She also pretends to like rambling in order to get close to James Lacey, her village crush, and keep an eye on her potential rival Mary Fortune. Jessica Tarnick, a member of a ramblers group from Dembley, is found murdered on the land of Charlie. DCI Wilkes and DC Bill Wong, the most clueless cop duo in the world, suspects Charles Fraith.

Deborah Camden asks Agatha to investigate because, after all, she's "an expert in these matters". Aggie's gay best friend Roy Silver, who brought from London a very peculiar yoga teacher, provides her with background research. She has a "brainstorming" with her cleaner Gemma Simpson and goes undercover with James as a married couple. What does "Méfiez-vous de l'illusion de la connaissance" mean? How many adults can sit in a wendy house? Directed by Geoffrey Sax (also series consultant) and written by Chris Murray (Midsomer Murders), this return of Ashley Jensen as the colourful detective is a real treat. The cast is excellent, starting with her and Mathew Horne as Roy.

Also with Katy Wix (Gemma), Jamie Glover (James), Matt McCooey (Bill), Jason Barnett (DCI Wilkes), June Watson (Mrs Josephs), Lucy Liemann (Sarah Bloxby), Rhashan Stone and Daisy Beaumont (Mary Fortune), Jason Merrells (Charles), Lara Rossi, etc. Produced by Mammoth Screen and Free@Last TV for Sky. Michelle Buck and Stewart Harcourt are the executive producers for Mammoth Screen. Barry Ryan and David Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Produced by Matthew Mulot. Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Christopher Willis. Titles by Light Creative. Distributed by Sky Vision.

(1)  Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death was our coup de coeur of the rather bland TV 2014 Christmas season in the United Kingdom. Regrettably we didn't review it due to unforeseen circumstances. In France it was bought by France Télévisions.


Midsomer Murders usually returns in France in April (since a few years) but Series 18 will premiere on pubcaster France 3 this sunday.

Aired between January and February on ITV with an "extended" six-episode run,  this eighteenth series surprisingly managed (overall) to bring back a bit of dignity to the venerable detective drama. 

Starring Neil Dudgeon (DCI John Barnaby), Gwilym Lee  (DS Charlie Nelson) and Manjinder Virk as the new forensic pathologist, Dr Kam Karimore. Midsomer Murders is produced by Bentley Productions Ltd, an All3Media company, for ITV.

Series 19 will introduce Nick Hendrix as Barnaby's new DS Jamie Winter.

Series 18 reviews on this blog (Spoiler-Free):


Private Eyes confirmed last week that the Canadian light-hearted detective series is very enjoyable and entertaining. 
Matt Shade and private investigator Angie Everett must prove the innocence of Robyn, an old friend of Matt, who's the main suspect for the murder of bad boy chef Zack Beach. Beach was Robyn's associate but he wanted to dissolve their partnership. They had a fight the day before and her fingerprints are all over the crime scene. The task of Everett and Shade is complicated by the cop on the case, Detective Derek Nolan, who particularly dislikes Angie.

Written by Alan McCullough and directed by Kelly Makin, Mise En Place fulfills the promises of both its trailer and the pleasant premiere. This second episode is fun, pacey and charming. Everett goes undercover as a waitress but should stick to her day job. Shade has a stakeout 101 (animal crackers included). Eager to show Angie that he would be the perfect partner for her agency, Matt displays his expertise about the restaurants of Toronto but he falls on her rented car to escape Detective Nolan. His daughter Jules wants a tattoo. 

Private Eyes is reminiscent of classic US detective shows such as Remington Steele or Moonlighting (minus the fantasy and the fourth wall break). It's also definitely the worthy successor to Republic of Doyle (2010-2014). The duo between Jason Priestley and Cindy Sampson, as ex-hockey pro/would-be investigator Matt Shade and tenacious PI Angie Everett, is perfect. We learn more about Matt's father Don (the talented veteran Canadian actor Barry Flatman) and Jules, Shade's legally blind daughter played by Jordyn Negri. With Clé Bennett as Detective Derek Nolan and Ennis Esmer (Detective Curtis Mazrahi).

Alex Paxton-Beesly and Jean Yoon guest star. Produced by Entertainment One Television with Piller/Segan. Distributed by Entertainment One. Music by Shawn Pierce. The theme song is a cover of Daryl Hall and John Oates's song Private Eyes by rock band Dear Rouge. Private Eyes (10 X 60-minute) is loosely based on The Code, a 2012 novel of the Brad Shade mystery series written by sports journalist and author Gare Joyce
See also: (Review of Episode 1)

[Update - May 18, 2017]  

Private Eyes premiered yesterday in France on TF1, with three episodes aired... on late night (sigh).

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Reviews, news and the "or not".

- Top Gear (BBC Two): (Series 23, Episode 1)

- Private Eyes (Global):


- Capitaine Marleau (France 3):


- Marseille (Netflix/TF1): 

Oh dear... On May 12, TF1 aired Episodes 1 and 2 of the first Netflix original French series. Preceded by a (deserved) bad reputation and drowned in its pretension, it couldn't even be bearable as its own parody. We left in the middle of the second episode.

- A Midsummer Night's Dream (BBC One):

Star-studded adaptation of William Shakespeare's play by Russell T. Davies, revered scriptwriter and former showrunner of Doctor Who. Most regrettably we didn't like it, except for Nonso Anozie (amazing as Oberon).