Friday, 27 January 2017


A few words about the latest episodes of those crime/detective dramas.
- Midsomer Murders - Series 19, Episode 4: Red In Tooth And Claw (ITV). In recent years two scriptwriters amazingly succeeded in bringing fresh air into the venerable detective drama: Jeff Povey and Lisa Holdsworth. Povey is behind Last Man Out, the absolutely brilliant previous episode, and now here comes the eagerly awaited (by your humble servant at least) Holdsworth's annual Midsomer.

Lisa Holdworth caught our attention seven years ago with an episode of New Tricks. For her first gig on Midsomer Murders in 2013, a character died thanks to a giant round of cheese. Two years later she penned what was then the best episode since series 15 (A Vintage Murder). In Red In Tooth And Claw, death strikes in and around a pet show. DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Winter (Nick Hendrix) investigate amongst an impressive number of rabbits.

There's Steve Pemberton as a champion rabbit breeder, a locum pathologist (played by Michael Obiora), and someone who plays with scissors. English acting deity Susan Hampshire graces Midsomer County with her presence. A most enjoyable episode with great lines (« It's been a bad week for small animals. First a rabbit-napping and now a dog-on-badger hate crime. »

For some reasons which only belong to scheduling geniuses, ITV keeps the two remaining episodes of this 19th series for "later in the year". Directed by Steve Hughes.

See also: (Episode 3)

- Death in Paradise - Series 6, Episode 4 (BBC One). In which we learn what Commissioner Patterson did during his days off, and Catherine doesn't care about her election campaign. 

« No solace in a kiss. No comfort in a sigh. No good about goodbye. » (Dame Shirley Bassey)

It's all boredom under the sun since the second episode of this current series. The romance between DI Goodman (Kris Marshall) and Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton) balances between annoying and painful. Its only possible excuse (with extreme indulgence) would be to pave the way for a potential departure of Humphrey during the London two-parter or in Episode 8. 

In that case, Ardal O'Hanlon, who plays "DI Jack Mooney" in Episode 5, would be my chief suspect for the replacement. Anyway, let's hope things will go back to normal (well,  the Saint Marie "normal"...) ASAP.

See also: (Episodes 2 & 3

Monday, 23 January 2017


The one with the dead friend, followed by the one in the hotel.

The bottom line: "Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun."

After a slow but nice start, the sixth series of BBC One's tropical cluedo goes on with a couple of episodes regrettably deprived of vitality and group dynamic. This year it's DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) who loses a friend. And the romantic weekend between DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) and Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton) in an island hotel turns into business as usual for Humphrey when a guest is stabbed to death.

The unnecessary romance between Humphrey and Martha (who's not even in the second episode) gives the impression that its only purpose is to trigger a departure of the beloved DI. Or this storyline would be even more unnecessary, which is probably preferable as Kris Marshall leaving would be a big loss for the feel-good detective drama. This said, the bumbling but brilliant Columbo of the Caribbean has become a more conventional type of sleuth.

Talking about unnecessary, they seem to have found something to do for poor Catherine (Élizabeth Bourgine) beyond the cocktails: she wants to run for the Honoré Mayor's office. That's certainly why she's too busy to appear in episode 3. In Death in Paradise there is worse than "not necessary", apart from dead we mean, it's "invisible". Like the wife of Officer J.P. Hooper (the excellent Tobi Bakare). Why J.P. keeps asking advices about Rosey and him to Dwayne (Danny John-Jules, thankfully still on board) is the most interesting mystery of this sixth series. 

After Natasha Little in the first episode, we can now add Ramon Tikaram to the list of the current series guest stars who have both Midsomer Murders and Death in Paradise (or vice versa) in their resume. But also Jason Hughes, Midsomer's DS Ben Jones himself. Thanks to the "Next Time" trailer at the end of the third episode, we learn that Commissioner Patterson (the great Don Warrington) hasn't been discretely kidnapped or murdered. Soon London will replace momentarily the gorgeous Guadeloupe scenery.

Written by Kelly Jones (Episode 2) and Alex Walker (Episode 3). Directed by Jermain Julien (Episode 2) and Claire Winyard (Episode 3). Death in Paradise is produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC, with the support of Region of Guadeloupe and Film Commission of Guadeloupe. Music composed by Magnus Fiennes. Created by Robert Thorogood.

See also: (Episode 1)

[Update - January 26] It crossed my mind when I noticed the name of the actor and his character in the cast list of the fifth episode... Could Ardal O'Hanlon, who plays DI Jack Mooney, be DI Goodman's replacement in case of a possible Kris Marshall departure while Humphrey is in London? 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Health stuff + No school for Junior until next monday.

Please do accept my apologies for the snail's pace. Thank you  for your comprehension, your interest, your fidelity and your trust.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


[Spoiler-Free] Cricket is a ground for murder as DCI Barnaby and DS Winter investigate the death of a star batsman.

The bottom line: The face should be familiar...

After the very good A Dying Art last year, scriptwriter Jeff Povey and director Matt Carter return to Midsomer Murders with the absolutely brilliant Last Man OutLeo Henderson, captain of the Lower Pampling Panthers, wins the latest match of the Midsomer C10 Slam cricket competition and leads his team to the tournament semi-final. But his triumph is short, because he's pummeled to death by cricket balls in the practice area.

« His alibi checks out, Jones.
- I'm Winter, sir. »

DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) are about to interrogate the man who found the body: Jack Morris, the 12th player of the team. Except that Morris is actually Barnaby's old DS Ben Jones, working undercover to infiltrate a large-scale match fixing operation. John cannot reveal the truth to Jamie, who quickly puts "Jack Morris" on the suspect list! Another captain dies is killed, near a tree. The same tree where someone who went missing 20 years ago suddenly reappears.

« That's taking tree hugging a bit far, isn't it? »
Last Man Out is creative, ingenious and funny. It's a real pleasure to see the excellent Jason Hugues back as Ben Jones, former right-hand man of two DCI Barnaby. The reunion with John, the "duel" with Winter and Ben's confrontation with the match-fixer on the cricket ground are some of the great moments of this episode. John Bird and Susan Jameson are amongst the guest stars. Like Natasha Little, who also appeared this month in Death in Paradise, the tropical counterpart of Midsomer Murders (1).

Also starring Fiona Dolman as Sarah Barnaby and Manjinder Virk (Dr Kam Karimore). Produced by Bentley Productions (part of All3Media) for ITV. Exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Ella Kelly. Music composed by Jim Parker

(1) Amusingly, Jason Hughes guest stars in an episode of Death in Paradise this year. 

See also:

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


He took his time but he's finally back. Following the success of a TV movie aired in March 2015 (!) on German private channel Sat.1, crime comedy Einstein returns tonight with the first two episodes of a 10-episode series.

Actor and singer Tom Beck (Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahn Polizeï) stars as Felix Winterberg, great-great grandson of Albert Einstein and scientific genius himself, who unwillingly ended up as a police consultant in the 2015 film.

Far from being another procedural with the inevitable eccentric sleuth, Einstein (the TV movie) didn't take itself seriously at all and caught us with Tom Beck's undeniable gift for fast-paced comedy.

You can read our review of the 2015 film for television here:

See also:

[Update] A very good, entertaining first episode in line with the TV movie. Regrettably followed by a terrible second episode.

Monday, 9 January 2017


[Spoiler-Free "mini review"] The butcher of Bleakridge, the most remote village in Midsomer, is found dead in the cold room of his shop by his fellow members of the local Neighbourhood Watch group. 

The man was investigating a wave of burglaries in the village, but hadn’t identified the culprit yet.

It's a little bit like Hot Fuzz without the comedy for DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) in this episode written by Paul Logue and directed by Renny Rye. Crime and Punishment appears to be quite an improvement over the sleepy series premiere, though we could do without the production's insistence to match up the DS with the pathologist, Dr Kam Karimore (Manjinder Virk).

Also starring Fiona Dolman as Sarah Barnaby. Frances Barber plays Ingrid Lockston, leader of "the rural Stasi" (as Barnaby calls the Bleakridge Watch). Katy Cavanagh (Lena Ferrara), Neil Morrissey (Mitch McAllister), Vicki Pepperdine (Barbara Walton), Sara Powell (Maxine Lockston), Clive Swift (Felix Hope) and Sam Troughton (Henry Marsh) are amongst the other guest stars. Produced by Bentley Productions (part of All3Media) for ITV. Exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Ella Kelly. Music composed by Jim Parker.

Thursday, 5 January 2017


[Spoiler-Free] Stephen Langham, chief volcanologist at the Saint Marie Volcano Observatory, is found dead halfway up the Mont Esmee live volcano

The apparent cause of death is an heart attack but DI Humphrey Goodman notices something is missing in the equipment of the scientist.

The new series of Death in Paradise, the globally popular feel-good detective drama, premiered this week on BBC One. Kris Marshall returns as DI Humphrey Goodman, alongside Danny John-Jules (Officer Dwayne Myers), Joséphine Jobert (DS Florence Cassell), Tobi Bakare (Officer J.P. Hooper), Élizabeth Bourgine (Catherine Bordey) and Don Warrington as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson. Set in the fictional island of Saint Marie, Death in Paradise is actually filmed in the French overseas region of Guadeloupe

The plot of this episode feels like a pretext to showcase the magnificent scenery. The romance between Humphrey and Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton) (1) and a masterclass in comedy from Don Warrington and Danny John-Jules fill the rest of the hour. A slow start for this sixth series but a nice treat for a cold January evening. Murielle Hilaire (Justine Tremblay), Douglas Hodge (Daniel Langham), Natasha Little (Victoria Baker), Cyril Nri (Mayor Joseph Richards), Adrian Rawlins (Stephen Langham) and Emily Taaffe (Megan Colley) are the guest stars.

Written by Dana Fainaru and directed by Claire Winyard. Death in Paradise is produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC, with the support of Region of Guadeloupe and Film Commission of Guadeloupe. Music composed by Magnus Fiennes. Created by Robert Thorogood.

(1) See

Monday, 2 January 2017


[Update - January 7, 2017] If someone can find my immune defences, please contact me at the email address on your right. Thanks in advance, it seems 2017 is so 2016 for me...

- The Halcyon - Episode 1 (ITV, January 2). Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey meet Hotel Babylon with shades of Foyle's War. From Left Bank Pictures (The Crown) comes ITV's latest attempt to recapture the flame of Downton. This new drama, created by Charlotte Jones and set in a five star London hotel in 1940, will not illustrate the definition of "Originality" in a dictionary but its first episode makes you want to watch more.

This premiere shouts class at all levels right from the pre-credit party. Then cue to a Bondian title sequence with an uber cool song, between Portishead and 007. The amazing Steven Mackintosh and the fabulous Olivia Williams lead a competent ensemble cast in a world of glamour, intrigue and romance. Mackintosh plays Richard Garland, the calm and effective hotel manager (a man with secrets). Williams plays Lady Hamilton, the intelligent, heartbroken wife of the Halcyon owner, soon confronted to a life-changing situation.

A secret meeting at the hotel raises the interest of American journalist Joe O'Hara (Matt "Constantine" Ryan). One of the participants is Charity Lambert (Charity Wakefield), a young woman with connections to the Nazi regime. Further cast includes Kara Tointon (singer Betsey Day), Hermione Corfield (Emma Garland), Jamie Blackley (Freddie Hamilton), Annabelle Apsion, Mark Benton, Edward Bluemel, Sope Dirisu, Kevin Eldon, etc. Even Mr Nick Brimble, a name which means a lot when you're a drama buff.

Episode 1 written by Charlotte Jones & Jack Lothian and directed by Stephen Woolfenden. Produced by Chris Croucher (Downton Abbey). Exec produced by Sharon Hughff, Jack Lothian and Andy Harries. Cinematography by Jean-Philippe Gossart. Title sequence by Alex Maclean. Music composed by Samuel Sim (Maigret). Hourglass, the title song composed by Sim, is performed by Tracy Kashi. The Halcyon is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.

- Ministério do Tempo - Episode 1 (RTP1, January 2). Portuguese adaptation of El Ministerio del Tiempo, the acclaimed Spanish sci-fi/adventure drama created by Pablo Olivares & Javier Olivares. The 16 x 60-minute series is an ambitious gamble for pubcaster RTP and is intended as an alternative to the popular telenovela genre. Like the original, Ministério do Tempo is about a secret government institution called The Ministry of Time, whose mission is to prevent anyone from altering the past.

The result is an interesting work of historical and cultural transposition of the format with a genuine sincerity in terms of production. As a fan of El Ministerio, I find the local counterparts of Alonso, Salvador, Velázquez and Germán (the Ministry's beadle) already convincing but I'll need time to get used to the others (or not). Starring Mariana Monteiro (Amélia Carvalho), João Craveiro (Afonso Mendes de Noronha), António Capelo (Salvador Martins),  Luís Vicente  (Ernesto Ochoa), Andreia Dinis (Irene Matos Dias) and Carla Andrino (Maria dos Prazeres).

Produced by Iniziomedia Audiovisuais, Veralia and Just Up Produções for RTP. Adapted by Pedro Marta Santos. Music composed by Rui Neves. Directed by Bruno Cerveira & Paulo Rodrigues.


A 1940s themed party celebrates the reopening of Little Auburn, a derelict village left untouched since WW2, while three camps fight about its future. 

Finn Thornberry, a young man behind an eco-village project, leaves the party on a bike when he's crushed by a tank.

The bottom line: He's dead, John.

The 19th series of Midsomer Murders, the venerable ITV detective drama, started on December 18 with this Village that Rose from the Dead written by Rachel Cupperman & Sally Griffiths. Little Auburn is the only thing rising from the Dead in this soporific premiere which does not fulfill the promises of the tank scene. Neil Dudgeon, who plays DCI John Barnaby since 2011, interrupts a definite placid mode for a short moment when his character has an encounter with a snake.  

The only real drama during those overlong 90 minutes (1) is that Sykes, the Barnabys' beloved dog (and Midsomer fans' favourite), has gone to Heaven. His replacement is brought rather predictably but at least the transition is better than for the DS. Yes, there's a new one: Jamie Winter, played honourably by Nick Hendrix. Fiona Dolman (Sarah Barnaby) and Manjinder Virk (Dr Kam Karimore) are back.

Caroline Blakiston, David Burke, Anthony Calf, Christopher Colquhoun and Hugh Dennis are amongst the guest cast. Produced by Bentley Productions (part of All3Media) for ITV. Exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Ella Kelly. Music composed by Jim Parker. Directed by Nick Laughland.

(1) Minus adverts.


First allow me to wish you all the best for this new year. Actually I don't even know how this little blog and I managed to survive 2016. 

But we're both here. By the way, delayed reviews (El tiempo entre costuras, the Callan book and Les nouveaux feuilletonistes) will of course surface at some point. Should I finish them with 40°C and a smartphone. Incidentally, I must receive some DVDs for the blog. Never give up, etc.

The recap of last month will be short, I'm afraid:

- Watched this Christmas.  Some words about Doctor Who, Maigret's Dead Man, Revolting Rhymes, The Witness for the Prosecution (sigh) and Jonathan Creek: Daemon's Roost.

- Prof T./Professor T. (TF1/Eén). TF1's Prof T. is the remake of Flemish detective/crime drama Professor T. and I'll stick to the original. The French version is this year's Doc Martin (the one with Thierry Lhermitte, I mean...) Except it took them less time to obliterate the subtlety of their model.

I didn't even notice that the new series of Midsomer Murders started earlier on ITV (December 18!) The premiere was rather Midsomer Slumber...