Monday, 29 January 2018


[Spoiler-Free "mini review"] A blind woman dies poisoned while attending the ceremony of a faith healer who returned to Saint Marie after years in the U.S.

DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O'Hanlon), DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) and the team welcome a new member on a trial basis: Pico, a police dog.

The bottom line: At least the dog isn't dead.

Another tedious episode after last week's case of death by boredom. Which is very regrettable because the premiere of this seventh series was good and the second episode was brilliant. Series 6 was almost entirely devoted to the transition between DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) and DI Mooney. This new series looks like a catalogue of TV tropes: the love interest/story, the dog and next time, the kid. In Death in Paradise a love story means either a character departure... or nothing at all. Just ask Rosey, the wife of J.P. Hooper (Tobi Bakare).

The "tactics" of  Dwayne (Danny John-Jules) with Darlene (Ginny Holder) don't work as he planned. Catherine Bordey (Élizabeth Bourgine) vanishes again but Commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington) is here to introduce the dog. The plots become repetitive and fatigue begins to show. Also starring Richie Campbell (Dashel Jordan), Jenny Jules (Amelia King), Pascal Major (Security guard), Clare Perkins (Fabienne Jordan) and Steve Toussaint (Steadman King). Written by Tom Higgins and directed by Stewart Svaasand. Produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC. Created by Robert Thorogood.

Saturday, 27 January 2018


[Spoiler-free review] Crime pays, crime sells. French television fiction is a huge police station, particularly on pubcaster France 3. After Meurtres à... (the answer of the channel to Germany's Tatort) or Crime à, the channel successfully launched a new collection called Crimes parfaits last december.

In this  6 x 52-minute  "semi-anthology", a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime but a detective (different in every couple of episodes) proves him/her wrong.  It's the concept of the inverted detective story, popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant. 

France 3 happens to be the home of megahit Capitaine Marleau, starring Corinne Masiero as an offbeat, sharp-minded and quick-witted sleuth without a first name but with a chapka and a parka. Columbo is one of the acknowledged influences of the character. Coincidentally (or not), episodes 1 & 2 of Crimes parfaits were centered on a Marleau-esque police captain played by Isabelle Gélinas. 5.173.000 viewers (20%) (1) watched the two cases packed with cliches and terrible dialogues, even if the second episode managed to be a little better than the first.

Antoine Duléry, who played Commissaire Jean Larosière in Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie from 2009 to 2012, stars as Gendarmerie commander Renaud Delaunay in the pair of episodes to air next tuesday on France 3. The likeable Delaunay is claustrophobic and his third marriage is about to end. He rides an old Triumph motorbike and has just quit smoking. Laura Mizon, a clever (and irreverent) young lieutenant played by Élisa Ruschke, assists him. In Aux abois, written by Isabelle Polin & Frédéric J. Lozet, nurse Adèle Lacombes (Helena Noguerra) kills her stepfather with his own shotgun during a hunting party and makes the murder look like a suicide.

This episode is quite enjoyable despite of a handful of poor dialogue lines, thanks to the performances of Antoine Duléry and Helena Noguerra. Anyway, the best case of Delaunay is the remarkable Mise en scène (written by Stéphane Pannetier & Julien Vanlerenberghe). Samuel Labarthe, the successor of Duléry in Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie, guest stars as Philippe Sevran. Sevran, a longtime friend of commandant Delaunay, is a juge d'instruction (an investigating magistrate) who drowns his wife Louise in her bath. This murder is only one of the elements of a diabolical plan which tests the loyalty of the commander's colleagues.

Mise en scène is a stunningly brilliant confrontation between the both excellent Antoine Duléry and Samuel Labarthe. Far from the popular Commissaire Laurence of Les petits meurtres, Labarthe channels the most memorable murderers of Columbo. The sociopathic judge Sevran is the epitome of the powerful and rich ars*hole, the best guest villain of Crimes parfaits to date. Directed by Christophe Douchand, Aux abois and Mise en scène are produced by Ango Productions (Lagardère Studios) and France Télévisions, with Be-Films and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). With the participation of RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) and TV5 Monde.  Produced by Ivan Sadik. Frank Lebreton exec produces.

Co-starring Pierre Laplace (Serge Barraud) and Gérard Loussine as pathologist Michel Bergeron. Filmed on location in Bretagne (Vannes and its region). Music composed and conducted by Vincent Stora. Theme of Crimes parfaits composed by Jean-Pierre Taïeb. The end title song of the two episodes, reminiscent of the atmosphere of the soundtrack of the German TV classic Schimanski, is called One last time. It is performed by Manu Lanvin, who composed it with Vincent Stora. The duo Renaud Delaunay/Laura Mizon deserves its own series. Philippe Caroit plays the detective in the next couple of episodes, filmed mostly in Marseille.


[Update - January 31] 

4.543.000 viewers (18.3%) watched the two cases of Commander Delaunay on France 3, which aired Mise en scène before Aux abois.

[Update - October 2, 2020] Crimes parfaits will be available at the end of this month in the United States on the SVOD service MHZ Choice as Perfect Murders.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018


[Spoiler-Free "mini review"] Frank O'Toole, a spy thriller author and Saint Marie resident for 20 years, is found stabbed through the heart in the middle of the ocean.

The bottom line: The one between Episode 2 and Episode 4.

After the good Series 7 premiere and the brilliant second episode, here comes a case of death by boredom for DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O'Hanlon) and the team. DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) shows her perplexity towards this British institution called Desert Island Discs. Officer Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules) tells Officer J.P. Hooper (Tobi Bakare) that he doesn't want to be alone for the Erzulie festival (1), which honours the voodoo goddess of love. Catherine Bordey (Élizabeth Bourgine), absent of the previous episode, shows up but not Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington).

There's an unwritten rule saying that every British actor must appear in Death in Paradise, so two legends are amongst the guest cast:  Simon Callow, who plays Larry South, and James Faulkner (Frank O'Toole). Anyway, the main point of this third episode is that Dwayne has now a love interest named Darlene Curtis (Ginny Holder). Also starring Sian Gibson (Gilly White), Steve Oram (Dean Shanks) and Imogen Stubbs (Valerie O'Toole). With the voice of Sue Lawley (Herself). Produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC. Written by Justin Young. Directed by Jonathan Gershfield. Created by Robert Thorogood.

(1) See also Series 2 Episode 1

Friday, 19 January 2018


Al Dorsey is a private eye from Tahiti who hates adventure and chose that job just because it looked "classe" when he watched movies of the 1950s.

This bumbling and anxious young man thinks that nothing serious ever happens on the island. Until a case of counterfeit money puts his fiancee in a terrible predicament.

The bottom line: Ted's Excellent Journey.

Al Dorsey, détective privé is a 6 x 52-minute detective series from Polynésie française (French Polynesia) commissioned by the Outre-Mer 1ère French overseas public network. It is based on the first two Al Dorsey books written by lyricist and novelist Patrice Guirao: Crois-le! (2009) and Lyao-Ly (2011) (1). Alban Casterman plays Tahiti private investigator Al Dorsey, whose real name is Édouard Tudieu de la Valière. The detective and his cop best friend Commissaire Sandona "Sando" Philibert (Guillaume Ducreux), who's now Buddhist, go to the hospital. Al's fiancee Lyao-Li (Chloé Folliot de Fierville), wholly burnt by acid, is wrapped in bandages like a mummy. At the insistence of her mother, Al Dorsey consults Tamatua Orini, a Tahu'a (a Tahitian sorcerer).

The Tahu'a gives him a sample of a Ra'au, a traditional remedy which turns out to be very effective on what remains of Lyao-Li's right arm. But if Al wants more he'll have to bring the sorcerer two Tiki statuettes exposed at the Musée des Îles. In other words, he must commit a robbery in a museum whose curator is his own cousin. Worse, the security of the exhibition is provided by Sando himself. Besides, Mamie Gyani (Dadou Paille), Al Dorsey's mother, wants  "Doudou"  to help Jean Reaumard (Laurent Brissonaud). Jean, a TV show host from Paris, is looking for a man named Alexandre Leglise. Al Dorsey, détective privé is produced by Big Band Story and Merapi Productions with Les Films du Pacifique.

The series was filmed in Tahiti and Moorea from June to August 2016 with the support of the Ministère de la Polynésie Française and the participation of France Télévisions. More than 200 persons from Polynesia worked in the cast and crew. Written by Sydélia Guirao & Nassim Ben Allal and directed by Thierry Bouteiller (RIS Police Scientifique), the first detective drama "made in Tahiti" aired on Polynésie 1ère each week from September to October 2017. It was shown in metropolitan France by France Ô on December 5 and December 12 as 2 X 3 52-minutes episodes. Episodes 4 to 6 are adapted from Lyao-Li, the second novel.

Hardened by circumstances, Al begins a journey into the mysteries of local traditions to save his girlfriend at the risk of betraying his cousin and Sando. During this adventure he learns a couple of things about himself and his father. Alban Casterman and Guillaume Ducreux expand their characters with talent. Al Dorsey becomes an unlikely knight and the commissaire appears to be wiser than he seems. Thankfully, the quest of our anti-hero is not deprived of the humour displayed in the previous episodes. Produced by Thierry Bruant, Gilbert Di Nino, Benjamin Dupont-Jubien, Mehdi Sabbar, Clara Laplace and Frank Courvoisier. Hervé Boitelle exec produces. Cyril Colbeau-Justin and Jean-Baptiste Dupont are the associate producers.

Olivia Delplace is the assistant director. Cinematography by Laurent Dhainaut.  No composer is credited (unless we're mistaken) for the musical ambience between Trip hop, Jazz and the BBC series Hustle. Also starring Ione Lenoir (Tamatua Orini), Mate Iaou (Gilles), Julien Gué (Paupol), Benoît Barbier (Docteur Durol), Laurent Jacques (Infirmier), Nicole Edmunds (Simone), Vaihina Tapare (Paula), etc. Yves Edouard Malakai (Maui et Coco) plays Oscar. A good cast gives life to the engaging characters created by Patrice Guirao (2) in an enjoyable Tahitian pastiche/homage to the P.I. genre which gradually builds its own identity.

(1) Followed by Si tu nous regardes (2013) and Tu vois (released this month).
(2) Toti is definitely our favourite.

Review of Episodes 1 to 3 here:

(Amandine Attard contributed to this review) (Trailer) (The books)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


Agatha Raisin will be back in 2018 but not on Sky 1.

PR turned sleuth Agatha Raisin first appeared in a series of mystery novels written by M.C. Beaton (the pseudonym of Marion Chesney), who's also the author of the Hamish Macbeth books. Penelope Keith played the character for BBC Radio 4 from 2004 to 2006. In 2014, Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty, Extras) starred in the title role of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, a fun, fast-paced and charming Christmas special aired on Sky 1

Following the success of The Quiche of Death, Sky commissioned a 8 X 60-minute series aired from June to July 2016. In France, Agatha Raisin was shown by pubcaster France 3 and Koba Films released it on DVD. Sky 1 chose not to commission a second series but streaming service Acorn TV has decided to order new episodes, based on three M.C. Beaton novels: The Wizard of Evesham, The Case of the Curious Curate and The Fairies of Fryham.

Ashley Jensen, Mathew Horne, Matt McCooey and Katy Wix will reprise their roles. all3media International (Midsomer Murders) will distribute the new series, except for English-speaking territories, which will be handled by Acorn Media International. Interestingly, the three stories will be available internationally as three 90-minute TV movies or six 45-minute episodes. The 90-minute format will be definitely better than 60-minute for this detective drama.

Monday, 15 January 2018


[Spoiler-Free "mini review"] Four world class players are in Saint Marie for the final of the Caribbean Poker Masters Tournament. and a pot of three million dollars. 

They sit around the table when one of them dies poisoned.

DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert) needs to rest her leg because of a sprain. So she can't investigate with DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O'Hanlon) and the team. Officer Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules) is temporarily promoted to detective because of his expertise in poker. He teaches a few things to Jack, who also learns some magic tricks... or at least he tries.

Commissioner Patterson (Don Warrington) expects DI Mooney to do a speech in front of his niece's lecture group. Dwayne is interested when he learns that it's composed of 13 nurses. Meatballs, glasses in a sock and Descartes are some of the other elements of this absolutely brilliant (and funny) episode written by Jake Riddell (Suspects, EastEnders) and directed by Stewart Svaasand. Tobi Bakare plays Officer J.P. Hooper. Catherine Bordey, played by Élizabeth Bourgine, is absent. 

Guest starring Theo Barklem-Biggs (Tatau, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Charlotte Beaumont (Broadchurch) as Adelaide, Mark Benton (The Halcyon) as Les Doyle, the legendary Nigel Planer and Nigel Whitmey. Created by Robert Thorogood, Death in Paradise is produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC. Joséphine Jobert had actually a week off during the filming of this episode, hence Florence's injured leg story.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


[Favourite of the Month]  [Spoiler-free review] The body of a young woman is found in the swimming pool of a luxury hotel in Saint-Paul de Vence. The local gendarmerie investigates but Captain Marie Jourdan, a police detective, abruptly invites herself on the case for a personal reason.

The bottom line: Mimie Mathy is "the new sheriff in town". And that's good.

Written by crime drama expert scriptwriter Laurent Mondy (Commissaire Magellan, Les Cordier, juge et flic) and directed by Emmanuel Rigaut, Le prix de la vérité (1) is a TV movie (and possible backdoor pilot?) which will air on French pubcaster France 3 this saturday. Comedian and actress Mimie Mathy, who usually stars in the long-running TF1 hit Joséphine, ange gardien, plays  Marie Jourdan, a tenacious and quick-witted police captain with a difference (2).

« Apparemment vous n'avez pas tous les formats chez les gendarmes. Chez nous ça va du small au double XL, ça vous pose un problème? »

Célia Moreau is found dead in the swimming pool of the Lion d'Or, a magnificent luxury hotel in Saint-Paul de Vence. Commandant Luc Langevin (Charles Clément) and Capitaine Paul Danceny (Mathieu Delarive), of the gendarmerie, believe it was an accident. Daniel Caron (Philippe Caroit), the obnoxious owner of the place, is anxious to open the hotel photo exhibition of a lucrative artist called Janus. But Capitaine Marie Jourdan, from the Lyon Police judiciaire, claims that the case is hers. Soon she proves to Dr. Yasmine Labri (Selma Kouchy), the pathologist, that Célia was murdered.

« Je suppose que vous avez vos petites habitudes avec votre ami Langevin. Mais, voyez-vous, je m'en fous complètement. »

Commandant Langevin, whose wife was saved by Caron when the latter was a doctor, and Capitaine Danceny reluctantly accept the presence of Jourdan on the investigation. Daniel Caron becomes Marie's main suspect and the alibi of a person of interest is Paul Danceny's daughter Chloé (Louna Espinosa). The victim worked in a stud farm belonging to Virgile Caron (Pierre-Yves Bon), the unbearable son of Daniel, who harasses his female employees. Captain Jourdan happens to have a very personal motive to find the murderer of Célia Moreau. A sedated young man in a clinic could be the key of this mystery.

« Je dois en référer au commandant Langevin, c'est mon supérieur direct
-  Pour pisser aussi vous êtes obligé de lui demander l'autorisation? »

Past an omnipresent music, the inevitable and very "office du tourisme" aerial shots, and a few cliches (Chloé and the "bad boy"), Le prix de la vérité is well crafted and there's a welcome plot twist. It looks that Mimie Mathy enjoyed this opportunity to get away from her guardian angel character with a more dramatic role. Philippe Caroit (R.I.S. Police Scientifique) played twice alongside Mimie Mathy in Joséphine, ange gardien. They seem to have fun with this on-screen reunion and the dialogues between Marie and the odious Daniel Caron (« Je vais vous écraser comme une merde. Ca va me porter chance. »)

« Vous pensez que je l'ai tué? Oh, c'est petit ça... Oh pardon
-  Je vous en prie. Vous savez ce qu'on dit. Plus c'est grand plus c'est... »

Charles Clément, Pierre-Yves Bon and Michel Biel (Demain nous appartient), who plays Jordan Guichard, appeared in episodes of the TF1 series too. Selma Kouchy is a regular of France 3's Commissaire Magellan. Fans of the channel's crime dramas will certainly want more of this new detective. Captain Marie Jourdan, and the gendarmes Danceny and Langevin  would definitely be a pleasant addition to France 3's  popular crime/mystery line-up. Also starring Cécile Pallas (Jeanne de Courcy), Catherine Zavlav (Laurence Meurisse), Vanessa Liautey (Juliette Larcher), Murielle Huet des Aunay (Clarisse), Rébecca Finet (Nicole) and Sophie Payan as Célia Moreau.

« Vous m'avez fait peur
-  T'inquiète, j'ai l'habitude. »

Produced by Episode Productions (JLA Groupe) with France Télévisions. Co-produced by Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge). With the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse, TV5Monde and 13ème Rue (NBC Universal) Music by Fabien Nataf (with Alain Mouysset). Produced by Richard Berkowitz. Bernard Paccalet exec produces. Anne Leduc is the associate producer for RTBF. Olivier Garguir is the cinematographer. Filmed with the support of the Département des Alpes Maritimes. RTBF's La Une and Swiss channel RTS Un aired Le prix de la vérité ahead of French television.

(1) Formerly Liens de sang.
(2) Mimie Mathy is 4 ft 4 tall (1.32 m).

(Amandine Attard contributed to this review) 

Monday, 8 January 2018


Unwell. I already adore 2018 (sigh).


[Spoiler-free] The fiancee of a billionaire dies before her wedding and DI Mooney quickly rules out suicide. After all they're on the island of Saint Marie, the Caribbean Midsomer.

Filmed in Guadeloupe, BBC One's detective drama Death in Paradise returned on January 4 for a seventh series. 

It took most of the previous series to prepare the departure of Kris Marshall/DI Goodman and his replacement by Ardal O'Hanlon as DI Jack Mooney during a two-parter mainly filmed in London. In some respects it was an improvement over the inelegant ice pick exit of the poor DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller), Goodman's predecessor. Though it was definitely at the expense of the series' dynamic, it didn't hurt the ratings because the true star of Death in Paradise is its ingenious formula: fun escapism with a fish out of water sleuth in the Caribbean.

Death in Paradise has a worldwide audience so the new Detective Inspector was undoubtedly choosen with great care. As expected, Ardal O'Hanlon did a nice job right from his first appearance and Series 7 is all DI Mooney's, which is better for everybody including viewers. Joséphine Jobert (DS Florence Cassell), Danny John-Jules (Officer Dwayne Myers), Tobi Bakare (Officer J.P. Hooper), Élizabeth Bourgine (Catherine Bordey) and Don Warrington (Commissioner Selwyn Patterson) also return. Written by series creator Robert Thorogood, the premiere of this new 8-episode series brings back Death in Paradise in good shape.

The family and friends of the wealthy Philip Marston (Denis Lawson) are together in Saint Marie before his wedding with Diane Smith (Elizabeth Berrington). During a party, Marston receives a text message from the bride, who then falls from a balcony. DI Mooney and his team are called by Commissioner Patterson himself because "Philip is an old friend of Saint Marie" who employs about 100 islanders. As often, the commissioner wants the matter to be handled with "speed, discretion, tact and dignity". Mooney reassures his boss that discretion, tact and dignity are his middle names (actually his middle name is Fintan).

The fact that Diane only painted one fingernail before dying and a "slight limbo related injury" complicate the investigation. Meanwhile, Dwayne has a problem called Audrey (Doreene Blackstock). The episode is centered on Jack and the comedy duo Dwayne/J.P. Like Selwyn, Catherine has nothing much to do. Florence runs a lot and Jack's daughter Siobhan (Grace Stone) leaves the island for university. Stefano Braschi, Rob Heaps, Tanya Reynolds and Jemima Rooper are the other happy winners of a trip to Guadeloupe for this episode directed by Jonathan Gershfield. Death in Paradise is produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018


There was nothing exciting this Christmas on British television. Except the Doctor Who special and this Highway Rat, an animated gem aired on December 25 on BBC One.

A masked rat rides along the highway and steals food from travelling animals until he meets a duck who gives him a lesson.

The creative forces behind the adaptations of The Gruffalo (2009), The Gruffalo's Child (2011), Room on the Broom (2012), Stick Man (2015) and the two-part version of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes (2016) give us another pure wonder: a superb 30-minute animation of The Highway Rat, the children's book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

The extraordinary David Tennant leads a splendid vocal cast as the Highway Rat, alongside Rob Brydon (Narrator/Horse), Frances de la Tour (Rabbit), Tom Hollander (Squirrel), Nina Sosanya (Duck) and Husaam Kiani (Kitten). Adapted and directed by Jeroen Jaspaert, The Highway Rat is produced by Magic Light Pictures and Orange Eyes Productions in association with BBC and ZDF.

Produced by Michael Rose & Martin Pope. Music composed by René Aubry. Co-produced by Mike Buckland. Barney Goodland and Daryl Shute are the associate producers. Animation services by Triggerfish Animation. Produced with the support of the MEDIA programme of the European Union and the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

Monday, 1 January 2018


But first allow us to wish you again all the best for this new year.

- Le prix de la vérité on France 3 in January:


- Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie: Le Crime de Noël (France 2):

- Crimes parfaits (France 3):

- Al Dorsey, détective privé - Episodes 1 to 3 (France Ô):