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

Thursday, 8 September 2016


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.

Grand Hotel (Gran Hotel, 2011-2013), the acclaimed Spanish mystery drama, is availaible on DVD in France thanks to Koba Films. 

Produced by Bambu Producciones, the company of Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés, for private channel Antena 3, Gran Hotel was sold to more than 60 territories, including France (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). Released in January 2016, the "Grand Hotel - Saison 5" DVD set from Koba contains the second half of the third and final series (7 x 70-minute) plus a bonus featurette.

Andrés (Llorenç González) is arrested for the murder of Belén (Marta Larralde). Julio (Yon González), Alicia (Amaia Salamanca) and Maite (Megan Montaner) try to prove his innocence with the help of Inspector Ayala (Pep Anton Muñoz) and Agent Hernando (Antonio Reyes). The suspiciously obtuse Chief Inspector Bazán (Daniel Pérez Prada) strives to slow them down. Don Diego (Pedro Alonso) faces an invisible and powerful adversary from his past, who stops at nothing for revenge. Jesús Cisneros (Lluis Homar), the empathic maitre d'hotel, prevents Doña Teresa (Adriana Ozores) from doing something irreparable. Javier (Eloy Azorin) tries to adjust to the personality of his wife Laura (Martha Hazas).

Known internationally as "the Spanish Downton Abbey", Grand 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 (2). This last series of Gran Hotel is packed with suspense, mystery and romance. Rare are the things which doesn't work, mainly the story arc with Doña Sofia (Luz Valdenebro), Don Alfredo (Fele Martinez) and Father Grau (Roger Coma). The riveting twists and turns reach the heights of the first series. The cast is amazing, the music of Lucio Godoy is magnificent and the settings are gorgeous (3). The ultimate episode is one of the most beautiful and elegant conclusions ever made for a television series.

Gran Hotel has been remade twice, in 2015 for Italian pubcaster RAI as Grand Hotel and in 2016 for American Spanish-language network Univision as El Hotel de los Secretos. Yon González, Lluís Homar, Pedro Alonso and later Concha Velasco worked together again on Bajo Sospecha (2015-2016), a crime/mystery drama produced by Bambu for Antena 3. González has joined Bambu's Las Chicas del cable, due to air on Netflix in 2017. Amaia Salamanca is another of the prodco's familiar faces, with Velvet (2014) and La embajada (2016). The 7 episodes of this DVD set from Koba Films are on 4 discs in French only (the featurette is subbed). French subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

(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: (First half of Series3 DVD review) (Second half of Series 2 DVD review) (First half of Series 2 DVD review) (Series 1 DVD review)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016


France 3's excellent crime drama Capitaine Marleau proves once again to be a rating winner with its third episode, aired yesterday.

Directed by Josée Dayan, Les mystères de la foi caught 4.244.000 viewers (17.8%) and ranked #2 vs a match of the France national football team on TF1. You can find a review of the episode on our blog here:

Next week France 3 will air the fourth episode, Brouillard en thalasso

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


France 3's crime drama Capitaine Marleau is one of the French favourites of this blog since even before the pubcaster showed its pilot last year. 

Marleau (no first-name), played by the amazing Corinne Masiero, returns tonight with Les mystères de la foi.

Directed by Josée Dayan, it's the third Capitaine Marleau after Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir (the pilot) and Le domaine des soeurs Meyer. Belgian channel La Une aired this excellent episode in April so you can find a review on our blog here:

Next week France 3 will air the fourth episode, Brouillard en thalasso.

Friday, 2 September 2016


[Spoiler-Free] Marlène goes to the funfair in order to consult a fortune teller. A priest gives to commissaire Laurence a list with the names of five possible suspicious deaths. Soon the priest is murdered in his church.

Alice Avril tries to write a crime novel and befriends her new neighbour, a young woman who hates her stepmother.

The bottom line: Should we start to worry about Les petits meurtres?

Le cheval pâle is the thirteenth episode of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie ("The little murders of Agatha Christie") with the Laurence/Avril/Marlène detective trio. Helmed by new series director Olivier Panchot (De guerre lasse), it is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel The Pale Horse by scriptwriter Sylvie Simon. Samuel Labarthe is Commissaire Swan Laurence. Alice Avril is played by Blandine Bellavoir and Élodie Frenck plays Marlène, Laurence's devoted secretary. Natacha Lindinger is back as the sophisticated and sarcastic pathologist Docteur E. Maillol.

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie returned on August 26 on French pubcaster France 2 with the brilliant L'étrange enlèvement du petit Bruno. The episode, first aired in November 2015 on Swiss channel RTS Un, brought 4.169.000 viewers (21.1%) to France 2 and ranked #2 vs the French version of Survivor on TF1. Far from the usual fast-paced crime comedy which is one of the trademarks of the series since 2013, Le cheval pâle goes darker with a moderate dose of humour and some regrettable lack of dynamism. The last 30 minutes are interminable if not painful (Marlène with a "possessed" voice and the stakeout in the TUB Citroën).

On the positive side, the guest cast is excellent: Olivier Broche (Lucien Cornille), Thierry Hancisse of the Comédie Française (Eugène Dacosta), Valérie Dashwood as the aptly named SybilleÉmilie de Preissac (Francine Marchal), Anne-Sophie Girard (Lucille Marchal), Laëtitia Kandi (Irène), Bertrand Foly (Father François), etc. Dominique Thomas plays Commissaire divisionnaire Tricard. Production values and locations (the fun fair, the Marchal estate) are great, as always.

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. Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. The music is composed by Stéphane Moucha. Unfortunately the next episode, L'affaire Protheroe (aired on RTS in August), doesn't remove our doubts. Let's hope the last couple of episodes of this 2016 batch (La mystérieuse affaire de Styles and Albert Major parlait trop) will arrange that. 

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