Friday, 26 March 2021


Launched in 2016 on German pubcaster Das Erste, the brilliant 90-minute crime drama Der Zürich-Krimi stars the great Christian Kohlund as the melancholic Thomas Borchert, an "unlicensed attorney" working in Zurich for lawyer Dominique Kuster.

Ina Paule Klink (Wilsberg) co-stars as Dominique (1). Money. Murder. Zurich. (the international title of Der Zürich-Krimi) is available in the United States and Canada on the SVOD service MHz Choice.

Aired by Das Erste in March 2019, Borchert und der Sündenfall is the sixth episode of Der Zürich-Krimi. It was penned by Wolf Jacoby and directed by Roland Suso Richter. Felix Kramer plays Police captain Marco Furrer  (Pierre Kiwitt replaced him from Episode 7). Star lawyer Dr. Reto Zanger, Dominique Kuster's father and an old friend of Thomas, is played by Robert Hunger-Bühler. Other regulars are Susi Banzhaf as Regula Gabrielli (Dominique's assistant), Andrea Zogg as Beat Bürki-Borchert's "personal" taxi driver, and Yves Wüthrich (Urs Aeggi, Furrer's deputy).
The owner of a Zurich nightclub is shot dead in self-defense by the police during a raid. Officer Emmi Arnold, the daughter of Captain Furrer's old mentor, tells Marco that the whole operation was a setup and there was no self-defense. When the young woman is found dead, Furrer is framed for her murder by some crooked colleagues. He asks Dominique for help and Thomas Borchert quickly joins her. The classic plot of Borchert und der Sündenfall is compensated by a cast of quality and the extraordinary presence of Christian Kohlund.

Also with Thomas Kügel (Tatort) as Major Beat Wenger, Christoph Letkowski (Ulf Markwart), Rainer Furch (Colonel Rudolf Ammann), Christoph Glaubacker (Peter Bührer), Lena Schmidtke (Dogs of Berlin) as Emmi Arnold, Germain Wagner (Lothar Arnold), Jan Krauter (Martin Dobler), Canadian born actor Dan Bradford as Jean Berger, Katja Sallay (Mrs Dobbler) and Katharina Leonore Goebel (Estelle). Produced by Graf Film for ARD Degeto and Das Erste. Co-produced with Mia Film
Produced by Klaus Graf, Annemarie Pilgram and Michal Pokorný. Darko Lovrinić, Ondřej Neruj and Katja Roesch are the production managers. Kirsten Frehse (ARD Degeto) is the line producer. Music composed by Michael Klaukien and Andreas Lonardoni. Song Senza di te  by Girgio Conte. Photography by Max Knauer. Filmed in Prague and Zurich. Production services in Switzerland provided by Christof Neracher for Hugofilm. Made with the support of the Czech Film Fund. Distributed by Beta Film.
(1) Katrin Bauerfeind played Dominique Kuster in the first episode.  

Thursday, 18 March 2021


Created by scriptwriter Robert Murphy (DCI Banks), McDonald & Dodds is a British mystery drama produced by Mammoth Screen (Endeavour) for ITV and launched last year with 2 x 90-minute episodes.
The smart and effective DCI Lauren McDonald and her deputy DS Dodds (no first name known), who dips his chips in butter and has a keen eye for details, are back for two new feature-length cases. ITV aired them in February and March (a third episode will be shown later).
« Then... a cold chip? That's a crime against nature. »
Mc Donald & Dodds is a most pleasant take on the mismatched detective duo where the crime-solving genius isn't in the foreground. It's also an affectionate homage to Columbo in a setting reminiscent of Inspector Morse's Oxford, the beautiful town of Bath (in the west of England). The ever brilliant Jason Watkins (The Crown, The  Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) is Dodds, alongside an excellent regular cast: Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet) as McDonald, James Murray (Cucumber, Primeval) as Chief Superintendent John Houseman, Jack Riddiford (DC Darren Craig) and Lily Sacofsky (Sanditon) as DC Milena Paciorkowski.   
Mick Elkins, Barbara Graham, Jackie Somner and Gordon Elmwood are four wealthy friends who were famous in the 1980s. About to take a hot-air balloon trip, they're joined by a man named Frankie Marsh, who lives in the same posh building as them. A serious incident forces the group to do an emergency landing and when the police arrives on the crash scene they find Marsh dead in the forest. DCI McDonald doubts the man jumped, as Barbara pretends. Sergeant Dodds puts on his rough terrain shoes (he has a very delicate ankle) and notices deep scratches on three fingers of  Frankie's left hand.
« And, er, I'm a tad put out you'd even think that. Quite a large tad, in fact. I thought tads were small. Not always. »
The detectives must collaborate with the oddly "doddsian" Roy Gilbert, from the Air Incident Investigation Agency, to discover what happened in the sky. Dodds goes to the library to learn more about the survivors. Lauren visits Marsh's expensive apartment. Written by Robert Murphy, the perfectly crafted The Man Who Wasn't There was helmed by Alex Pillai (Chiling Adventures of Sabrina, Midsomer Murders). Its good plot and its great dialogues are completed with some cultural/social satire served by a  well-chosen guest cast, starting with actor and musician Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet fame) as Mick, the music mogul.

Actress and singer Patsy Kensit (remember Eighth Wonder?) plays ex-80s icon Barbara Graham. Former radical feminist Jackie Somner is played by Cathy Tyson. The talented Rupert Graves (Riviera, Sherlock) is very funny as the snobbish Gordon Elmwood. Comedian and actor Rob Brydon is fabulous as Roy. Also with Victor Oshin (Jason Greaves), Femi Nylander (Ollie Greaves), Vince Leigh (Frankie Marsh), etc. Dodds refers to a previous (unseen) case: the murder of an Albanian in the sewerage works. Houseman says he was a New Romantic during his youth.

« Every year, I look forward to the May weekend. Cos that means that the summer's here, and all the people, they come out... I don't like empty streets, ma'am. »
Exec produced by Preethi Mavahalli, Robert Murphy and Damien Timmer. Produced by Sarah Lewis. The soundtrack includes the music composed by Blair Mowat (Happy!) and songs from bands of the 1980s like Fantastic Day by Haircut One Hundred or Ghosts by Japan. Cinematography by Giulio Biccari. Editing by Meredith Leece. There's a new title sequence by Liquid TV. The Man Who Wasn't There mentions COVID with a certain intelligence. The final scene with Dodds and McDonald is quite moving. Made with the support of HM Treasury and DCMS' Film and TV production Restart Scheme. McDonald & Dodds is distributed by ITV Studios.

See also:

Tuesday, 2 March 2021


Commissaire Magellan and Lieutenant Berrayah cross paths with the French army.

Created by Laurent Mondy (Les Cordier, juge et flic), French mystery series Commissaire Magellan was launched on pubcaster France 3 in 2009. Produced by Jean Luc Azoulay's JLA Productions with France Télévisions and set in the fictional northern town of Saignac, it stars Jacques Spiesser as Commissaire Simon Magellan. Selma Kouchy plays Lieutenant Selma Berrayah, his deputy. The other regulars are Nathalie Besançon as Magellan's companion Florence Higel (a journalist for the local paper La Sentinelle), Franz Lang as Simon's nephew Ludo and Marie de Stefano as Cordelia (the commissaire's younger daughter).
Magellan is part of the very popular regional crime drama line-up of France 3 and even crossed over twice (in 2016 and 2018) with Mongeville, another hit of the channel. Jacques Spiesser is always brilliant as the debonair (and sarcastic) detective in those old school whodunnits, built according to a proven formula, which deliver what the fans like and expect. In many respects, this  heir to Les cinq dernières minutes, Navarro (a production of Jean-Luc Azoulay) or even Derrick (1) is France's answer to Midsomer Murders. Written by Céline Guyot & Martin Guyot, Frères d'armes is directed by Étienne Dhaene.
Master Corporal Stéphane Mareski, a special ops soldier from an elite unit, dies in a motorbike accident while he was returning to his base after a leave. It appears that this accident was provoked so Magellan and Selma decide to investigate. They have to work with Commander Delphine Blommel, from the ministry of defence, and must cope with the military culture of secrecy. Ludo wants to become a veterinary assistant provided that he catches the neighbours cat first and then ask Dr. Stanislas Cléry, Selma Berrayah's vet boyfriend, for a job. Stan himself has something to ask to Selma.

Filmed during Autumn 2020, Frères d'armes is the 37th case of Commissaire Magellan. Unfortunately it is the penultimate episode of the series, as France 3 has decided to axe both Mongeville and Magellan in spite of their healthy ratings. Perhaps every TV sleuth has to face soldiers at some point but Frères d'armes does not pretend to be Columbo's By Dawn's Early Light. This episode is quite enjoyable and it's nice to see Alexis Loret back as Stan. There are no scenes at the offices of La Sentinelle and the second death is off screen.

Some words about the name of the victim, Master Corporal Mareski. It's also the name of Commissaire divisionnaire Damien Roche's deputy, Lieutenant Gaëlle Mareski, in Perfect Murders (Crimes Parfaits). She's a former soldier and the Damien Roche cases are penned by... Céline and Martin Guyot. Is it a private joke or the foundation of a "Guyotverse", who knows? Swiss actress Anne Richard (Boulevard du Palais) guest stars as Commander Blommel. She played another role in a 2013 episode. 
Célia Diane is excellent as Sergent-chef Sophie Le Guen. With Robin Causse (Christophe Destrée), Moussa Sylla (David Hoarau), Tom Wozniczca (Stéphane Mareski), Jeanne Marie Ducarre (Sydney), Stéphan Godin (Colonel Destrée), Vincent Primault (Pierre Langeais), Charlie Joirkin (Sybille Langeais) and Luigi Kröner (Laurent Balzeau). Produced by Richard Berkowitz. Exec produced by Olivier Guedj. Melissa Kajdan Smila is the production manager for JLA. Frédéric Debièvre is the production manager for France Télévisions. 
Music by Frédéric Porte. Cinematography by Ramin Poursaid and Stéphane Degnieau. Filmed in the Département du Nord. Commissaire Magellan is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Magellan. Frères d'armes premiered on French streaming service Salto on February 27. The episode will be shown on France 3 this saturday. The beloved commissaire will be missed.
(1) Not to mention, Les Cordier, juge et flic (naturally).