Monday, 16 April 2018


French crime drama Capitaine Marleau, France 3's ratings juggernaut, returns on the channel from tomorrow. Corinne Masiero is back in the title role with Sang et lumière (guest starring David Suchet) and Le jeune homme et la mort

Both are directed as usual by Josée Dayan, who co-produces the series. In Le jeune homme et la mort, the first violinist of the Eckert Quatuor is found dead in a pond a few days before a concert. Capitaine Marleau questions the famous musician Alexandre Eckert and his entourage. 

The bottom line: Étude in Grey.

Maybe the bar was set too high with the very good Sang et lumière. Past the beautiful locations, Le jeune homme et la mort struggles to meet the quality standards of Capitaine Marleau. The plot seems right out of an episode of Midsomer Murders. The guest cast (except Stanislas Merhar) ranges from uninspired to unconvincing. Marleau looks likes she tries hard to resist a urge to leave gendarmerie for a comedian job. Worst, Le jeune homme et la mort is a missed opportunity to do with classical music what Brouillard en thalasso succeeded with classic dance.

With Jean-Hugues Anglade (Braquo, Josée Dayan's Collection Fred Vargas) as Alexandre Eckert, Évelyne Bouix (Joyce Kramer), Marianne Denicourt (Sabrina Eckert), Émile Berling (Christophe Gosselin), Lindsay Karamoh (Brigadière Noémie Perrone), Florence Darel (Blanche Allard), Stanislas Merhar (Philippe Venturi), Matthieu Dessertine (Fred Rolane), etc. Co-produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co. François Bennaceur is the associate producer.  

Produced with France Télévisions and Radio Télévision Suisse. Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Additional music adapted and conducted by Tedi Papavrami, performed by the Quatuor Girard. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Written by Alexandra Clert & Thomas Luntz with Sonia Moyersoen. Series created by novelist and scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau.

See also:

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


French crime drama Capitaine Marleau, France 3's ratings juggernaut, returns on the channel from April 17. Corinne Masiero is back in the title role with Sang et lumière and Le jeune homme et la mort

Both are directed (as usual) by Josée Dayan, who co-produces the series.

« My name is Marleau. I am a French colombe. »

Filmed between June and July 2017 in Dordogne, Sang et lumière welcomes a most special guest star: English actor David Suchet, known globally for his role as Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot. This 10th Capitaine Marleau was penned by Franco-British scriptwriter/author Marc Eisenchteter and British-American writer and musician John McNulty, with series creator Elsa Marpeau. Capitaine Marleau (no first name) is in Langelac, a village of Dordogne whose inhabitants are majoritarily British. Margaret Chapuizet, the English wife of mayor Thomas Chapuizet, has disappeared. Sir Herbert White, a retired Scotland Yard detective played by David Suchet, invites himself on the case.

« Scotland Yard?! Y a le FBI aussi? »

It's le choc des cultures between the offbeat French gendarme and the former Yard sleuth while Marleau investigates amongst the population. Angus, the husband of Maggie's best friend Jenny Sullivan, can't stand her because he thinks she's trying to convince his wife to divorce. Maggie keeps a blog about local tourism where she's particularly harsh towards the Verterac Hôtel. Its owner, Ulysse Verterac, tried to commit suicide and his daughter Lucie is back in the village. Yvon Barbet, Jenny's lover and Lucie's friend, loses his van in a molotov cocktail attack. Does someone targets those who signed a petition against wind turbines installed in a nearby village?

Launched in 2015, Capitaine Marleau has become the jewel of the crown of France 3's crime/mystery line-up. Aired last october, the 8th episode reached a historic high with 6.838.000 viewers (29%!) A repeat of the Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the pilot, attracted 4.533.000 viewers (19.6%). More than its first transmission (3.731.000 viewers/15.3%). A repeat of episode 5 drew 5.917.000 viewers (26.3%) against 6.196.000 viewers (26.1%) when it first aired. The series is also a pop culture phenomenon: Marleau's parka, her chapka and her old Range Rover are known in France as Columbo's raincoat and his Peugeot (the lieutenant is often referred to). Some of the quick-witted capitaine's dialogues are cult. 

« Une minute. Est-ce que vous me demandez un alibi?
-  Mais ça va pas non? J'vais pas vous demander un alibi à vous. J'suis pas... Je veux juste savoir où vous étiez, avec qui et à quelle heure. C'est tout, hein. »

Capitaine Marleau is the most popular French drama of 2017, no less. This incredible success is owed partly to the character, who first appeared in Josée Dayan's miniseries Entres vents et marées (2014), and partly to the amazing Corinne Masiero. What a better way to celebrate it than to invite a British television legend alongside the beloved actress. Sang et lumière is a very good episode. However, we could have done without a bad joke, a couple of over-the-top moments and the closest thing to a jump the shark scene (Marleau as Eleonor of Aquitaine at the end). Filled with excellent lines, the smart script gives David Suchet a role worthy of his tremendous talent.

« J'ai beaucoup de respect pour la police française.  Le Quai des Orfèvres, Maigret, Columbo. »

The rest of the guest cast is quite interesting. Jérôme Kircher (The Returned), who often works with Josée Dayan, plays Thomas Chapuizet. Amusingly, he appeared in the pilot as an acting teacher and even had a part in Entre vents et marées. Jenny Sullivan is played by New York born actress and model Nancy Tate. Bartholomew Boutellis (Yvon Barbet) and Léo Dussollier (Lieutenant Etienne Vasson, nicknamed "Docteur Vasson") are two actors who deserve to be followed with attention. Geoffrey Carey is fantastic as Harold, the hilariously hysterical stage director ("Peter Brook Shields"). Lucie Verterac is played by Laura Smet.  

Also with James Gerard (Angus Sullivan), Hester Wilcox (Maggie), Jérôme Terre (Ulysse Verterac), Lucy Harrison (Caroline), Elisa Noyez (Anna Sullivan), etc. John McNulty and Marc Eisenchteter have cameos. Co-produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films. François Bennaceur is the associate producer. Produced with France Télévisions and Radio Télévision Suisse. Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the Conseil départemental de la Dordogne. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois.

Friday, 6 April 2018


A traveling salesman and a young woman are found dead in an apparent car accident. In her pocket there's a piece of paper with the address of Alice Avril (Blandine Bellavoir) 

But Alice has vanished and Marlène Leroy (Élodie Frenck) is the only person who seems to care. A woman from the past of Commissaire Laurence (Samuel Labarthe) resurfaces in his life.

« Commissaire Laurence. J'entre où je veux, quand je veux. C'est un des nombreux avantages de mon métier. »

Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie returned this week on Swiss channel RTS Un, ahead of France 2. Written by Catherine Hoffmann & Bertrand Lorel (with dialogues by Catherine Hoffmann & Zina Modiano), Meurtres en solde is adapted from Agatha Christie's novel Hercule Poirot's Christmas. Two months after the death of Marilyn Monroe, Marlène still mourns for the star and she's a bit conspirationist on what happened to her idol (« Ces monstres l'ont tué! ») A young man named Thierry Noël bursts into the commissaire's office. He's charged with theft at the department store Au Bon Temps, where he works like his mother. Swan summons her, much to his surprise because Mathilde Noël happens to be a woman he loved during the war. 

« Question théorique: si Alice recevait un deuxième coup sur le crâne. Vous croyez que ça pourrait la guérir? »

Mathilde announces to Laurence that Thierry is his son! The commissaire asks pathologist Timothée Glissant (Cyril Gueï) what he knows about paternity testing. Marlène tries to find Alice, who has gone AWOL from La Voix du Nord. The reporter reappears at the Lille police station with a doctor as she's actually amnesiac. Later, Simon Krepps, the unpleasant owner of Au Bon Temps, is brutally murdered. Directed by Didier Bivel, Meurtres en solde is an absolutely perfect balance between the spirit of Agatha Christie's work and the comedy which made the popularity of the Laurence/Avril/Marlène trio. Humour mainly comes from the finely wrought dialogues (« Oh! Vous vous êtes déguisée en femme. ») The excellent guest cast is blessed with the presence of the great Aurore Clément (Elisabeth Krepps) and the talented Jacques Frantz as Simon Krepps.

« Je suis amnésique, hein. Pas demeurée. »

It's Alexandre Labarthe (Speakerine, Falco), the son of Samuel Labarthe, who plays Thierry Noël. Also with Lara Guirao (Mathilde Noël), Dominique Thomas (Ernest Tricard), Dorcas Coppin (Francesca), Alexandre Blazy (Albert Krepps), Alexis Manenti (David Krepps), Olivier Brabant (Carpentier), Philippe Rebbot (Dr. Locart), Éric Beauchamp (Agent Martin), François Godart (Robert Jourdeuil), Stéphanie Cliquenois (Client). Fans' favourite Bubulle (Marlène's goldfish) is mentioned in the end credits. Co-produced by Escazal Films and France Télévisions, with the support of Pictanovo and Région Hauts-de-France. Produced with the participation of TV5 Monde and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse.

Sophie Révil is the producer. Laurent Chiomento exec produces. Main characters created by Sylvie Simon and Thierry Debroux. Music composed by Stéphane Moucha. Bertrand Mouly is the cinematographer. Production designed by Moundji Couture. Costumes by Sophie Dussaud. Main title sequence designed by Romain Segaud. Painting "Portrait of Simon Krepps" by Stan Manoukian. The extraordinary house of Krepps is the Villa Cavrois, at Croix. Meurtres en solde will surface in France on a later date. Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice.

« Il ne manquerait plus que je sois aussi le père d'Avril. »

(Amandine Attard contributed to this review)

Tuesday, 3 April 2018


[Spoiler-Free] Why is Josef Matula with a forehead injury and pursued by men who look like hunters? Wasn't he supposed to be on holidays in Italy with his dog Renz?

Following the success of Matula - Wer Wind Sät last easter, Claus Theo Gärtner returns on ZDF as private detective Matula in a new 90-minute film.

The bottom line: Legends don't retire.

Claus Theo Gärtner (born in 1943) first portrayed the street-smart, working-class Hermann Josef Matula in Ein Fall für Zwei ("A case for two"). The long-running series, created by Georg Althammer and Karl Heinz Willshrei for Galmon Film (later Odeon Film), was about a private investigator and a defense attorney who solve crimes in Frankfurt am Main. Matula was 31 when it started on pubcaster ZDF in 1981. When his partnership with Dr. Dieter Renz (Günther Strack) ended in 1988, the character teamed up with three other lawyers: Dr. Rainer Frank (Rainer Hunold, 1988-1997), Dr. Johannes Voss (Mathias Hermann, 1997-2000) and Dr. Markus Lessing (Paul Frielinghaus, 2001-2013).

In autumn 2011, Gärtner expressed his desire to leave after 30 years. The duo Matula-Lessing bowed out with the 300th episode in March 2013. Surprisingly, ZDF decided to revamp Ein Fall für Zwei around attorney Benjamin "Benni" Hornberg (Antoine Monot, Jr.) and p.i. Leo Oswald (Wanja Hues). With the same title but minus the famous theme composed by the great Klaus Doldinger (The Neverending Story, Das Boot, Tatort), the new version debuted in May 2014. Claus Theo Gärtner even had a cameo in a 2015 episode. Last year, the legend returned in his own 90-minute special, Matula (aka Matula - Wer Wind sät), written by Ben Braeunlich and directed by Thorsten Näter.

5.26m viewers (16.8%) watched this brilliant comeback TV movie, aired by ZDF on Good Friday. Hence the commission of Matula - Des Schatten des Berges, an equally brilliant new case from the same writer and helmer. Josef Matula travels to Italy with Renz, his dog named after his first lawyer partner. They're in the Allgäu Alps when his Volkswagen minibus breaks down close to a winter sports resort. Josef stay with Renz at a guest house during the repair of his vehicle. At the inn, he witnesses an altercation between Martin Wiesner, the butcher, and businessman/mayor Peter Otting. Later, Matula walks near the mountain when he finds the body of Wiesner.

The local police concludes it was an accident. The detective disagrees and leads his own investigation against the villagers. Though clearly classic, the plot has all the ingredients that Ben Braeunlich successfully used in the previous film, starting with an appropriate sense of self-derision. Claus Theo Gärtner is masterful as the underdog old school private detective who still has resources. Director Thorsten Näter and cinematographer Joachim Hasse know how to take advantage of the gorgeous locations. The guest cast is perfect and it's quite moving to see the great Hans-Michael Rehberg (who plays Father Bornholt) in one of his final roles for television (1).

Also starring Frederick Linkemann (Valentin Leipold), Harald Windisch (Janosch Grebe), Marlene Morreis (Nora Wiesner), Martin Feifel (Peter Otting), Ferdinand Dörfler (Stefan Kleber), Joachim Raaf (Ludwig Berger), Eisi Gulp (Cyclist), etc. Matula - Des Schatten des Berges is produced by Odeon TV (for ZDF and Austria's ORF). Anette Kaufmann and Klaus Laudi are the producers. Peter Nawrotzki exec produces. Andrea Wetzel is the line producer. The excellent music was composed by Axel Donner. The real name of Matula's (fabulous) dog is Mumford and he's trained by Charlott Arzberger. Aired on this year's Good Friday, Matula - Des Schatten des Berges attracted 5.09m viewers (16.7%).

(1) Hans-Michael Rehberg died in November 2017.

Review of Matula - Wer Wind sät:

See also:
Primetime-Check: Karfreitag, 30. März 2018 – (Ratings)

[Update - May 27, 2019] 

Review of Matula - Matula - Tod auf Mallorca (Matula #3):