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.