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...