Wednesday, 25 October 2017


Cornwall in 1783. Captain Ross Poldark returns from the American War of Independence to discover that his father has died, his estate is in ruins and his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth is now engaged to his cousin, Francis. His uncle Charles wants him away and is ready to pay him to make a fresh start elsewhere.

Ross stubbornly refuses, determined to rebuild his family estate. With only the help of his father’s useless servants, Jud and Prudie, he takes on a new kitchen maid, Demelza, after rescuing her from a beating. The first series of Poldark (2015) is now available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

Written by English novelist Winston Graham, the 12 books of the Poldark saga were published between 1945 and 2002. A hugely popular adaptation from BBC Television and London Films Productions, starring Robin Ellis as Ross Poldark and Angharad Rees as Demelza, ran for 29 episodes from 1975 to 1977. The eighth Poldark novel, The Stranger from the Sea was adapted by HTV for ITV in 1996 without the original Ross and Demelza. This latest version, launched in March 2015 on BBC One, was adapted by Debbie Horsfield (All the Small Things) from the first two novels: Ross Poldark (1945) and Demelza (1946). Ed Bazalgette directed episodes 1 to 4 of this first series, William McGregor helmed the remaining four.

The aptly cast Aidan Turner (The Hobbit, Being Human) leads a talented regular cast as Ross Poldark, a rebellious and dashing gentleman with a social conscience. Ross rebuilds Nampara, his estate, then reopens his father's mine in a depressed local economy with his hesitant cousin Francis (Kyle Soller). Francis Poldark is a good man who regrettably has many weaknesses, starting with his jealousy about Ross and Elizabeth (Heida Reed). Ross takes risks on all fronts when he challenges class prejudices by taking sides for the underprivileged against the elite and marrying his maid Demelza Carne. Eleanor Tomlinson (Death comes to Pemberley) plays the smart and adaptive young woman. Demelza helps Verity (Ruby Bentall), the cousin of Ross, to reunite with her lover, Captain Andrew Blamey (Richard Harrington).

Beatie Edney and Phil Davis (Whitechapel) are fabulous as Poldark's couple of servants Prudie and Jud Paynter. The actions of Ross Poldark are under scrutiny of the Warleggans, a wealthy familly who rised from poverty to become powerful bankers and industrialists. Frustrated by Ross' rejection of his friendship, the cynical and scheming George Warleggan (Jack Farthing, excellent) becomes his enemy. Warren Clarke (Dalziel and Pascoe, In the Red, A Clockwork Orange), who portrays Charles Poldark, died in November 2014. The first episode was dedicated to this great actor at the time of its transmission. Pip Torrens (Cary Warleggan), Caroline Blakiston (Aunt Agatha) and Luke Norris (Dr. Dwight Enys) are amongst the other regulars.

The 2015 Poldark is ideal for period drama lovers and those who enjoy quality dramas in general. The production values are top-notch, the scenery is magnificent, the required romance, intrigue and action are there. Everybody in the crew and cast did a superb job to deliver an instant classic. This first series of Poldark is an invitation to read the books, watch the 1975 series, and visit Cornwall of course. Bonus material of the three-disc DVD set from Koba Films is comprised of three featurettes: Poldark, un personnage iconique (Poldark - The Man), Poldark et les femmes (Poldark's Women) and Les coulisses (Poldark - Behind the Scenes). The episodes are in French or English (with optional subtitles).

Poldark (Series 1) is a Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece co-production for the BBC and PBS. Poldark is produced by Eliza Mellor (Death comes to Pemberley). The executive producers are Debbie Horsfield, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Polly Hill for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. Anne Dudley composed the beautiful music. ITV Studios distributes Poldark globally. Robin Ellis, the 1975 Ross Poldark, appears as Reverend Halse.

See also:

Monday, 16 October 2017


Television series are watched all over the world. They are adored, hated and reviewed. Everybody has an opinion on them, including those who don't watch them... or pretend that they don't. This opinion is often based on perception rather than facts. In France, some circles forget that television is the 8th art and are still prejudiced against television fiction vs cinema (le 7ème art).

French journalists Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita are both acknowledged experts on TV series. In their new book Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté (published by Fantask), they generously share this expertise and their passion to explain with clarity, intelligence, but also a bit of humour, how series are made and shown.

From the conception of a television series to its broadcast or release (on SVOD and DVD), Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté covers the subject in all its aspects: creative and artistic (the showrunner, the writers, the formats, the actors), historical (how Lucille Ball revolutionized the TV industry), geographic (where series are filmed), technical (film or video, HD, special effects, etc...) and economic (financing and budgets, promotion, the US, the UK and French markets). Instructive and absorbing, the impressive work of Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita rely on their tremendous erudition and a long experience of the television business. Their book is astutely structured around 19 clichés/stereotypes arising from the so-called inferiority of TV compared to cinema, or particularly active these days.

Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté reminds that television fiction knows the auteur since Reginald Rose, Paddy Chayefsky and Rod Serling (before he created The Twilight Zone). Film adaptations of series didn't start in 1993 with The Fugitive. Actually, TV characters jump to the big screen since the 1950s. Long before the movie versions of Baywatch (2017) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), The Quatermass Experiment, Dragnet, Doctor Who and many more preceded them. "Franchises" existed in the 1970s and 1980s (The Muppets, Star Trek). Remakes, reboots, and sequels are not a "new trend". There is more than one "Golden Age of TV series". In France subsists a confusion about the distinction between daytime soaps, primetime soaps and sitcoms. And a series doesn't land on a broadcaster by chance.

Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté is punctuated with practical cases in the form of interviews (such as Betsy Beers, Frank Spotnitz or Greg Nicotero), analysis (David Milch, how Baywatch was saved after being cancelled by NBC) and immersions on filmings (The Sopranos, Friends, Game of Thrones, A French village), in a press junket and on the L.A. Screenings. Comprehensive, the book can be read from beginning to end or consulted by chapter. Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté is essential reading for series fans, regular or casual viewers, journalists, academics, or simply people who have questions on this theme. It's one of the most important recent books on television fiction with Les nouveaux feuilletonistes, an anthology of Alain Carrazé's interviews of the greatest series creators, writers, producers, actors and directors (Fantask, 2016).

Series' Anatomy: Le 8e art décrypté
by Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita
483 pages
25 € 
Cover illustrated by Matt Cunningham

See also: (Les nouveaux feuilletonistes)

Monday, 9 October 2017


[Spoiler-Free review] The corpse of Arthur Gerfaut, a teenager who disappeared six years ago, is found by a group of cyclists near a disused gold mine. His father, Hervé Gerfaut, is in prison for the murder of his wife.

Capitaine Marleau investigates. Gerfaut, who proclaims his innocence, escapes during the burial of his son.

The bottom line: Corinne Masiero, Niels Arestrup, Stéphan Guérin-Tillié, Camille Bordey and John Belushi...

Starring Corinne Masiero in the title role, the hugely popular French crime drama Capitaine Marleau returned last tuesday on pubcaster France 3 to hit another rating record. The very good Chambre avec vue caught 6.838.000 viewers (29%!) Actor, scriptwriter and director Stéphan Guérin-Tillié, who wrote the episodes Les mystères de la foi (where he played a sympathetic priest) and Brouillard en thalasso, penned this excellent La mémoire enfouie. Directed by series helmer and producer Josée Dayan, the 9th Marleau was filmed between May and June 2017 in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

The extraordinary Corinne Masiero faces the great stage, movie and television actor Niels Arestrup as Hervé Gerfaut. Belgian actor Daniel Hanssens plays Max Boilon, a retired gendarme dressed like the Blues Brothers, who assists the capitaine (1). Sara Martins (Death in Paradise) guest stars as activist Irene Ruff. Marleau starts the episode in a stretcher, wants to play golf and meets bikers. La mémoire enfouie is a festival of brilliant dialogues, one of the trademarks of Stéphan Guérin-Tillié. He definitely ranks amongst the best writers of Capitaine Marleau.

Also with Florence Thomassin (Mathilde Liorade), Rabah Loucif (Lyes), Joel Lefrançois (Gérard Liorade), Ludovic Berthillot (Pablo Vega), Alice Renom (Camille), Zacharie Chasseriaud (Arthur Gerfaut), etc. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co, with the participation of France Télévisions and Radio Télévision Suisse. Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Series created by Elsa Marpeau. Sang et lumière, the next episode (2), guest stars David Suchet (Agatha Christie's Poirot).

(1) Let's hope that this character will return.
(2) Air date unknown.

See also: 

Monday, 2 October 2017


Someone tries to murder Catherine Rougemont, ex-colonel of the Gendarmerie and owner of a small seaside hotel. Capitaine Marleau, who served under Rougemont 20 years ago, is convinced that Catherine knows the culprit. Except that her former superior won't talk.

Rougemont wants to protect women she hides in her establishment because they are victims of violence. But also her 16-year old grandson, whom she raised alone since the brutal death of his parents.

The bottom line: As long as Marleau avoids "Columbo as a ringmaster" stuff (1), everything will be OK.

Starring the extraordinary Corinne Masiero in the title role, France 3's crime drama Capitaine Marleau returns tomorrow. Its director and producer Josée Dayan  takes our favourite gendarme to northern France in this very good Chambre avec vue, written by Marc-Antoine Laurent and Jean-Marc Taba with series creator Elsa Marpeau (2). Capitaine Marleau conquered its ratings juggernaut status last year and could now afford anything. Thankfully, except for two "surreal" jokes and a couple of rather clumsy political comments, the episode demonstrates appropriate moderation and sensibility. Chambre avec vue manages to remind of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the series pilot, thanks to the superb performances of guest stars Yolande Moreau (Catherine) and Patrick Bouchitey as Hugo Perez.

Rod Paradot, who won the César Award for Most Promising Actor in 2016 for his role in Standing Tall (La Tête haute, 2015), plays Catherine's grandson Gabriel. Cédric Le Maoût enters the club of Marleau's most memorable deputies as Adjudant Loïc Planchon. Also with Piérick Tournier (Julien Batz), Laure Josnin (Claire), Lucie Desclozeaux (Leïla), Margaux Vallé (Lisa Serelle), Thomas Baelde (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie), Gérard Pinteau, etc. Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co, with RTS Radio Télévision Suisse, and the participation of France Télévisions and Pictanovo (Witnesses, Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie). Filmed with the support of Région Hauts-de-France. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn.

(1) See Murder, Smoke and Shadows (1989).
(2) The trio wrote En trompe l'oeil, the brilliant fifth episode. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017



- Black Forest Clinic 3 (First half of S2, French Region 2 DVD):

- Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie (France 2): (Crimes Haute Couture)

- Midsomer Murders (Series 19, French Region 2 DVD):

- The Callan File - The Definitive Guide (Quoit Media Limited): (Book review


- L'intégrale des Minichroniques de Goscinny (French Region 2 DVD):


Hated the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery. In an unusual move for your humble servant (patience is not one of my virtues, I'm afraid), I'll wait for the arrival of Jason Isaacs to have a definitive opinion on this new Star Trek series. Because it's Star Trek.

I love the new DuckTales. It's America's answer to Danger Mouse 2015. And the casting of David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck is pure genius.