Thursday, 15 February 2018


Launched last year, German crime/comedy Einstein returned this week on private channel Sat. 1 for a second series (10 x 45-minute episodes).

Actor and singer Tom Beck (Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahn Polizeï) stars as Felix Winterberg, the great-great grandson of Albert Einstein and a scientific genius himself. Felix has Huntington's disease (like his father) and he works reluctantly for the Bochum police as a consultant.
The bottom line: Rather The Tom Beck Show than Elementary.

Felix Winterberg interrupts his lecture because of a student who is watching a live broadcast of internet star Nana's video channel on her smartphone. Nana is about to present a very special object... which kills her in a spectacular explosion. The police quickly calls Winterberg, who joins Elena Lange (Annika Ernst) and forensic specialist Kirsten Maybach (Haley Louise Jones) on the crime scene. The victim's biggest fan Rosa Marcial (Vita Tepel) and Nana's boyfriend Crazy Alex (Phil Laude), another internet celebrity, are in shock.

Tremmel (Rolf Kanies)and Elena add Energy Drink executive Jens Abmeyer (Jochen Schropp) to the list of suspects. Felix Winterberg finds online fitness coach Zoe (Gizem Emre), Nana's best friend, quite interesting. BKA agent Julia Weigert (Laura Berlin) helps him and Dr. Lee Kwon (Yung Ngo) against old adversaries. Professor Constanze Winterberg (Angela Roy), Felix's mother, becomes the new dean of the university. Written by Matthias Dinter & Martin Ritzenhoff and directed by Dominic Müller, Optik is an effective premiere.

Tom Beck's undeniable gift for fast-paced comedy and a solid cast make Einstein an enjoyable series which doesn't take itself seriously. Sometimes it doesn't work (see the second episode of Series 1) but overall it's fun and entertaining. Let's hope that the rest of Series 2 is as good. Also starring Paul Bohse (Leon Lange) and Christian Hockenbrick (Dr. Rössler). Einstein is produced by Zeitsprung Pictures for Sat. 1 and distributed by Red Arrow Studios. Produced by Dominik Frankowski and Michael Souvignier. Music by Karim S. Elias.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


[Spoiler-free review] Il commissario Montalbano, the Italian detective drama launched in 1999 and starring Luca Zingaretti as the character created by author Andrea Camilleri, returned yesterday on RAI 1 for a new series (the 12th) of two 120-minute episodes.

La giostra degli scambi was adapted by Francesco Bruni, Andrea Camilleri, Salvatore De Mola and Leonardo Marini with Valentina Alferj, from the namesake novel first published in 2015 by Sellerio (Palermo). It's a weird day for Salvo Montalbano, who's almost arrested by the carabinieri while trying to separate two men in a brawl on the beach in front of his house. Then, he receives a phone call from his housekeeper Adelina. She knocked out a man named Alfredo Virduzzo with a frying pan because she mistook him for a thief.

Salvo, his deputy Mimi Augello (Cesare Bocci) and Inspector Giuseppe Fazio (Peppino Mazzotta) are confronted with a series of bizarre abductions of women and a suspicious fire in a shop which belongs to Marcello Di Carlo. Introduced as usual by Andrea Camilleri himself, the excellent La giostra degli scambi is the 31st episode of Il commissario Montalbano. Also starring Sebastiano Lo Monaco (Virduzzo), Angelo Russo (Catarella), Roberto Nobile  (Zito), Desirée Noferini (Silvana Romano), Raffaele Esposito (Marcello Di Carlo), Chiara Muscato (Luigia Maugeri), Ubaldo Lo Presti (Jacono), Ketty Governali (Adelina), Daniela Giordano, Noemi Giambirtone, Salvatore La Mantia, Bruno Di Chiara, Giovanni Argante and Salvatore Gioncardi.

With the participation of Fabrizio Bentivoglio  (Giorgio Bonfiglio) and Sonia Bergamasco (Livia). Giovanni Guardiano returns as forensic specialist Jacomuzzi and Davide Lo Verde is back as Agent Galluzzo. Marcello Perracchio, who played pathologist Dr. Pasquano from Series 1 to 11, died in July 2017. Inspector Montalbano is produced by Palomar and RAI Fiction. Produced by Carlo Degli Esposti, founder and president of Palomar, and Nora Barbieri with Max Gusberti. Marco Camilli is the producer for Palomar and Erica Pellegrini produces for RAI. Music composed and conducted by Franco Piersanti. Songs by Olivia Sellerio.  

Cinematography by Franco Lecca. Distributed by Rai Com. Il commissario Montalbano is aired in the UK by BBC Four as Inspector Montalbano and in France on France 3 as Commissaire Montalbano. Directed (with perfection) by Montalbano regular helmer Alberto Sironi. Montalbano is more than an institution in Italy and each episode is an event. Angelo Russo, who plays the improbable Catarella, even appeared in Soliti Ignoti – Il Ritorno, a game show adapted from a format called Identity and which preceded the transmission of La giostra degli scambi. The episode reached an historic high with 11.386.000 viewers (45.1%). (The blog of Carlo Degli Esposti) 

Last year's episodes:

Monday, 5 February 2018


[Favourite of the Month] Aired between January and February 2017 on ITV, The Halcyon is a 8 x 60-minute lavish drama created by Charlotte Jones.

Set in a five star London hotel in 1940, The Halcyon arrives in France this thursday on pubcaster France 3 as The Halcyon: Un palace dans la tourmente.

The bottom line: Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey meet Hotel Babylon, with a bit of Foyle's War and Grand Hotel.

Produced by Left Bank Pictures (The Crown), The Halcyon is an attempt by ITV to recapture the flame of their period drama megahit Downton Abbey. This drama will not illustrate the definition of "Originality" in a dictionary but it's gripping, well-acted and thoroughly produced. The Halcyon shouts class at all levels right from the pre-credit party of the premiere (which literally starts with a bang). 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 subtle and effective hotel manager (a man with some secrets). Williams plays Lady Priscilla 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, channeling James Bond). One of the participants is Charity Lambert (Charity Wakefield), a young woman with connections to the Nazi regime. Further cast includes Annabelle Apsion (Lillian Hobbs), Mark Benton (Dennis Feldman), Jamie Blackley (Freddie Hamilton), Edward Bluemel (Toby Hamilton), Hermione Corfield (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation) as Richard's daughter Emma Garland, Sope Dirisu (Sonny Sullivan), Kevin Eldon, Alex Jennings, Akshay Kumar, Nico Rogner, Kara Tointon (singer Betsey Day), Liz White, etc. Even the legendary Nick Brimble, a name which means a lot when you're a drama buff. Written by Charlotte Jones, Jack Lothian, Martha Hillier and Sarah Dollard. Directed by Stephen Woolfenden, Rob Evans, Justin Hardy and Philip John.

Produced by Chris Croucher (Downton Abbey). Exec produced by Sharon Hughff, Jack Lothian and Andy Harries. Cinematography by Jean-Philippe Gossart, Toby Moore and Adam Gillham. Title sequence by Alex Maclean. Music composed by Samuel Sim (Maigret). Hourglass, the title song composed by Sim, is performed by Tracy Kashi. The beautiful end title is called Out Of The Sun. Production designed by Matt Gant. Costumes designed by Anna Marie Scott Robbins. Unfortunately ITV chose not to renew The Halcyon. The French dubbing, directed by Déborah Perret for Dubbing Brothers, is rather good. French dialogues by Olivier Delebarre & Margaux Lamy. Amongst an excellent vocal cast, Patrick Osmond does a great work as the French voice of Steven Mackintosh. The Halcyon is distributed by Sony Pictures Television. (French Press Pack) (ITV Press Pack)  (Dubbing)

See also: (Alex Maclean)