Wednesday, 11 January 2017

MIDSOMER MURDERS: LAST MAN OUT (ITV)

Natasha Little managed to escape from Saint Marie after all... (1)

An absolutely brilliant episode written by Jeff Povey (the very good A Dying Art last year). And Jason Hugues returns as Ben Jones.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

EINSTEIN IS BACK ON SAT.1

He took his time but he's finally back. Following the success of a TV movie aired in March 2015 (!) on German private channel Sat.1, crime comedy Einstein returns tonight with the first two episodes of a 10-episode series.

Actor and singer Tom Beck (Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahn Polizeï) stars as Felix Winterberg, great-great grandson of Albert Einstein and scientific genius himself, who unwillingly ended up as a police consultant in the 2015 film.

Far from being another procedural with the inevitable eccentric sleuth, Einstein (the TV movie) didn't take itself seriously at all and caught us with Tom Beck's undeniable gift for fast-paced comedy.

You can read our review of the 2015 film for television here:

http://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2016/07/einstein-sat1.html

See also:

http://www.sat1.de/tv/einstein

[Update] A very good, entertaining first episode in line with the TV movie. Regrettably followed by a terrible second episode.

Monday, 9 January 2017

MIDSOMER MURDERS - SERIES 19, EPISODE 2: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (ITV)

[Spoiler-Free "mini review"] The butcher of Bleakridge, the most remote village in Midsomer, is found dead in the cold room of his shop by his fellow members of the local Neighbourhood Watch group. 

The man was investigating a wave of burglaries in the village, but hadn’t identified the culprit yet.

It's a little bit like Hot Fuzz without the comedy for DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Jamie Winter (Nick Hendrix) in this episode written by Paul Logue and directed by Renny Rye. Crime and Punishment appears to be quite an improvement over the sleepy series premiere, though we could do without the production's insistence to match up the DS with the pathologist, Dr Kam Karimore (Manjinder Virk).

Also starring Fiona Dolman as Sarah Barnaby. Frances Barber plays Ingrid Lockston, leader of "the rural Stasi" (as Barnaby calls the Bleakridge Watch). Katy Cavanagh (Lena Ferrara), Neil Morrissey (Mitch McAllister), Vicki Pepperdine (Barbara Walton), Sara Powell (Maxine Lockston), Clive Swift (Felix Hope) and Sam Troughton (Henry Marsh) are amongst the other guest stars. Produced by Bentley Productions (part of All3Media) for ITV. Exec produced by Jo Wright and produced by Ella Kelly. Music composed by Jim Parker.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

DEATH IN PARADISE - SERIES SIX, EPISODE ONE (BBC ONE)

[Spoiler-Free] Stephen Langham, chief volcanologist at the Saint Marie Volcano Observatory, is found dead halfway up the Mont Esmee live volcano

The apparent cause of death is an heart attack but DI Humphrey Goodman notices something is missing in the equipment of the scientist.

The new series of Death in Paradise, the globally popular feel-good detective drama, premiered this week on BBC One. Kris Marshall returns as DI Humphrey Goodman, alongside Danny John-Jules (Officer Dwayne Myers), Joséphine Jobert (DS Florence Cassell), Tobi Bakare (Officer J.P. Hooper), Élizabeth Bourgine (Catherine Bordey) and Don Warrington as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson. Set in the fictional island of Saint Marie, Death in Paradise is actually filmed in the French overseas region of Guadeloupe

The plot of this episode feels like a pretext to showcase the magnificent scenery. The romance between Humphrey and Martha Lloyd (Sally Bretton) (1) and a masterclass in comedy from Don Warrington and Danny John-Jules fill the rest of the hour. A slow start for this sixth series but a nice treat for a cold January evening. Murielle Hilaire (Justine Tremblay), Douglas Hodge (Daniel Langham), Natasha Little (Victoria Baker), Cyril Nri (Mayor Joseph Richards), Adrian Rawlins (Stephen Langham) and Emily Taaffe (Megan Colley) are the guest stars.

Written by Dana Fainaru and directed by Claire Winyard. Death in Paradise is produced by Red Planet Pictures for the BBC, with the support of Region of Guadeloupe and Film Commission of Guadeloupe. Music composed by Magnus Fiennes. Created by Robert Thorogood.

(1) See http://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2016/02/death-in-paradise-series-five-episode_25.html

Monday, 2 January 2017

WATCHED THIS WEEK (THE HALCYON, MINISTÉRIO DO TEMPO)

[Update - January 7, 2017] If someone can find my immune defences, please contact me at the email address on your right. Thanks in advance, it seems 2017 is so 2016 for me...

- The Halcyon - Episode 1 (ITV, January 2). Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey meet Hotel Babylon with shades of Foyle's War. From Left Bank Pictures (The Crown) comes ITV's latest attempt to recapture the flame of Downton. This new drama, created by Charlotte Jones and set in a five star London hotel in 1940, will not illustrate the definition of "Originality" in a dictionary but its first episode makes you want to watch more.

This premiere shouts class at all levels right from the pre-credit party. 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 head a competent ensemble cast in a world of glamour, intrigue and romance. Mackintosh plays Richard Garland, the calm and effective hotel manager (a man with secrets). Williams plays Lady Hamilton, the intelligent, heartbroken wife of the hotel's owner, soon confronted to a life-changing situation.

Meanwhile, a secret meeting at the hotel raises the interest of American journalist Joe O'Hara (Matt "Constantine" Ryan). One of the participants is Charity Lambert (Charity Wakefield), a young woman with connections to the Nazi regime. Further cast includes Kara Tointon (singer Betsey Day), Hermione Corfield (Emma Garland), Jamie Blackley (Freddie Hamilton), Annabelle Apsion, Mark Benton, Edward Bluemel, Sope Dirisu, Kevin Eldon, etc. Even Mr Nick Brimble, a name which means a lot when you're a drama buff.

Episode 1 written by Charlotte Jones & Jack Lothian and directed by Stephen Woolfenden. Produced by Chris Croucher (Downton Abbey). Exec produced by Sharon Hughff, Jack Lothian and Andy Harries. Cinematography by Jean-Philippe Gossart. Title sequence by Alex Maclean. Music composed by Samuel Sim (Maigret). Hourglass, the title song composed by Sim, is performed by Tracy Kashi. The Halcyon is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.

- Ministério do Tempo - Episode 1 (RTP1, January 2). Portuguese adaptation of El Ministerio del Tiempo, the acclaimed Spanish sci-fi/adventure drama created by Pablo Olivares & Javier Olivares. The 16 x 60-minute series is an ambitious gamble for pubcaster RTP and is intended as an alternative to the popular telenovela genre. Like the original, Ministério do Tempo is about a secret government institution called The Ministry of Time, whose mission is to prevent anyone from altering the past.

The result is an interesting work of historical and cultural transposition of the format with a genuine sincerity in terms of production. As a fan of El Ministerio, I find the local counterparts of Alonso, Salvador, Velázquez and Germán (the Ministry's beadle) already convincing but I'll need time to get used to the others (or not). Starring Mariana Monteiro (Amélia Carvalho), João Craveiro (Afonso Mendes de Noronha), António Capelo (Salvador Martins),  Luís Vicente  (Ernesto Ochoa), Andreia Dinis (Irene Matos Dias) and Carla Andrino (Maria dos Prazeres).

Produced by Iniziomedia Audiovisuais, Veralia and Just Up Produções for RTP. Adapted by Pedro Marta Santos. Music composed by Rui Neves. Directed by Bruno Cerveira & Paulo Rodrigues.