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TV

TV Heads up – Y Llyfrgell / The Library Suicides is on S4C on Sunday 30th April 2017 at 21:00

A TV Heads up

My 2016 discovery at Eurocrime, Y Llyfrgell / The Library Suicides is on S4C on Sunday 30th April 2017 at 21:00.

The Library Suicides / Y Llyfrgell
The Library Suicides / Y Llyfrgell

When famous author Elena Wdig commits suicide, her twin daughters, librarians Nan and Ana, are lost without her. Elena’s final words suggest that her biographer, Eben, murdered her. One night, the twins set off to avenge their mother’s death at the National Library of Wales, but are disrupted by night porter Dan, who is unwillingly caught up in the saga. Directed by award-winning director Euros Lyn, and based on Fflur Dafydd’s best-selling novel, this offbeat thriller explores the secrets and lies at the heart of storytelling, and asks who has the right to tell the story. Starring Catrin Stewart and Dyfan Dwyfor

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Mark Bailey TV

TV review – January 2015

Foyles War

Foyles War Cast
Foyles War Cast – Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen on right) & Samantha “Sam” Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks on left)

I think that the decision to end the series after last nights episode in the UK is the correct one as I have been profoundly disappointed by this season as the character of Foyle seems perpetually world weary and the plots seem to be merely hanging points for political statements which I personally happen to agree with but I don’t think that they take the place of a good coherent plot which intrigues you.

 

Death in Paradise

Death in Paradise
Death in Paradise – Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall – Series 3—present on left) and Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey (Sara Martins – Series 1—present on right)

What can you say – Death in Paradise is a feel good series; yes, there is a murder each week but the Caribbean background and the characters give you an hour of good quality entertainment with a component puzzle at its heart.

 

Spiral (Engrenages)

Spiral Cast
Spiral (Engrenages) – from left to right: Police Lieutenant Frédéric “Tintin” Fromentin (Fred Bianconi), Police Lieutenant Gilles “Gilou” Escoffie
(Thierry Godard) & Police Captain Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust)

The flipside to Death in Paradise – dark & gloomy with some people doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and others doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Plot & character-wise it is the best series on TV in the UK at the moment for me with great acting, a strong plot and lots of twists and turns.

 

Broadchurch

Broadchurch Series 2
Broadchurch Series 2 – Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant on left) & Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman on right)

I personally like the 2nd series better than the first although I do acknowledge the procedural issues of policing and law that have been raised by others. This is due to the supporting cast for me and the twisty-turny plot.

 

Silent Witness

Silent Witness Cast
Silent Witness Cast – from ;eft to right: Dr. Thomas Chamberlain (Series 17 onwards – Richard Lintern), Dr. Nikki Alexander (Series 8 onwards – Emilia Fox) & Jack Hodgson (Series 16 onwards – David Caves)

I really don’t know how I feel about this – it is an enjoyable enough 2 hours a week (2 x 1 hour episodes) but the plots don’t always make sense and any engagement with the current core cast is minimal – it is a rarity in the TV detective genre in having become less soapy in recent years.

 

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Mark Bailey TV United Kingdom

Review – Agatha Raisin And The Quiche Of Death (TV)

Ashley Jensen as Agatha Raisin
Ashley Jensen as Agatha Raisin

Agatha Raisin And The Quiche Of Death was broadcast on Sky 1 on 26th December 2014 and is based on the first Agatha Raisin mystery novel by Marion Chesney under her pseudonym M. C. Beaton.

Agatha Raisin, PR whizz, gives up her successful life in London, landing with a bang in the quiet village of Carsely with hopes of beginning a new dream life. Bored, lonely and used to getting her own way, Agatha finds that life in the Cotswolds isn’t quite the picture-perfect existence she imagined… and when her high-flying city attitude is met with puzzlement and suspicion from country locals, Agatha enlists the few allies she can find

This was not a totally faithful adaptation of the book. Also I will admit that the casting bothered me as Penelope Keith in the BBC radio adaptation has become the voice of Agatha for me and I see Agatha as being that sort of age by default, i.e. retired, whereas Ashley Jensen is a couple of years younger than me. BUT it did win me over as a very enjoyable way to spend 2 hours – it was light hearted fare but there was still a good plot and it was well acted and directed – plus the locations in Wiltshire (standing in for the Cotswolds) looked great.

For information – Ashley Jensen starred as Agatha, with Hermione Norris as long-suffering housewife Jo Cummings, Robert Bathurst as her errant husband Andy, Katy Wix, as cleaning lady Gemma, Mathew Horne as Agatha’s faithful former assistant Roy, Jamie Glover as Agatha’s romantic interest James, Jason Barnett (best known to me from The Bill) as the hapless DI Wilkes and Matt McCooey as lovelorn policeman DC Bill Wong. 

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Mark Bailey TV United Kingdom

The Fall series 2 starts on Thursday November 13th at 9pm on BBC Two

Also for those in Ireland or Northern Ireland, it started on Sunday November 10th at 10:30pm on RTÉ 1 moving to 9:30pm from next week

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Mark Bailey Reviews TV

TV review – New Tricks (Series 11) & Chasing Shadows

Just a quick review of two current UK TV crime & detective series.

New Tricks (Series 11) cast (Tamzin Outhwaite, Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst & Dennis Waterman)
New Tricks (Series 11) cast (Tamzin Outhwaite, Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst & Dennis Waterman from left to right)

New Tricks is back for its 11th series. I have less issues with this than some reviewers do as I think the two new cast additions of the last series (played by Tamzin Outhwaite & Nicholas Lyndhurst) have actually bedded in quite well and the stories are still quite good.

The problem for me is that the dynamic is now one of having two old school 70s cops (played by Dennis Waterman & Denis Lawson) grating with 2 more modern cops. I feel that this is not working as well as it should the character played by Denis Lawson is too often pushed to the background while Gerry Standing (the Dennis Waterman character) just seems to moan a lot.

The lead cast of chasing Shadows (Noel Clarke, Reece Shearsmith & Alex Kingston)
The lead cast of chasing Shadows (Noel Clarke, Reece Shearsmith & Alex Kingston from left to right)

I really wanted to like Chasing Shadows as it had a cast (Reece Shearsmith, Alex Kingston and Noel Clarke as leads with Don Warrington, Adjoa Andoh & Lynda Baron as other regulars) that I have liked in previous dramas and are really good actors with decent material but it was so clichéd with a cop with psychological problems solving missing persons cases with an attractive female sidekick & a tough (yet sensitive) boss.

It looks like I was not alone as ratings started at a lowish 3.4 million and fell to the 2.8m & 2.7m level by episodes 3 & 4.

The problem is that having a sort of autistic hero or heroine is not enough – The Bridge has a good plot so the quirks of the Saga Norén character react with the plot and are not there just to be the plot.

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Mark Bailey TV

TV Review: Line of Duty – Series 2

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Crime Fiction Mark Bailey TV

Review – Luther (TV, 2013)

Title screen for Luther
Title screen for Luther

The third season of Luther has just finished airing in the UK.

John Luther is a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) working for the Serious and Serial Crime Unit in London. He is a dedicated police officer but also obsessive, possessed, and sometimes dangerous in the violence of his fixations.

At the start of the third season, Luther is being internally investigated by a ruthless ex-copper who’s determined to make Luther answer for his past.

The questions that both the viewer and Luther’s new love interest are asking are “Has Luther crossed the line and gone too far in his war on crime? Or have they just got him all wrong?”

Spoilers below

Categories
Crime Fiction TV

Review – The Fall (TV, 2013)

 

Review – The Fall (TV, 2013)

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In this five part drama series made and set in Northern Ireland, Gillian Anderson stars as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson who is brought in from the London Metropolitan Police to help catch the killer when a murder in Belfast remains unsolved.

As Gibson travels across from London, we are introduced to the murderer himself; Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). The drama follows the police investigation uncovering the intricate story of the lives entangled by a series of murders both within the killers’ and the victims’ families.

Okay I am biased as this was made in Northern Ireland but it works as a great psychological thriller for 4 3/4 episodes but

** Spoiler alert **

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Crime Fiction Mark Bailey TV

Review – Jo (TV Series, 2013)

Review – Jo (TV Series, 2013)

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Jo is the first TV series to make it to the UK in the latest trend to make French shows in English, sell them abroad and then dub them into French for the home market.

Joachim ‘Jo’ Saint-Clair (played by Jean Reno) is a veteran detective who has been a a drug abuser with an estranged daughter, Adele, from a liaison with a prostitute.

He has a young eyecandy sidekick (Bayard played by Tom Austen), a tough boss (played by Orla Brady), a pathogist (played by Wunmi Mosaku) and a a ferociously intelligent nerd colleague (played by Celyn Jones) to aid him in his investigation and a wisecracking nun (played by Jill Hennessy) to confide in.

The good points are:

  • Jean Reno. Like Brian Cox, he could read the telephone directory and it would be watchable.
  • Jo’s private life is fascinating and is a lot more interesting than the crimeS he solves.
  • The pathologist and the nerdy sidekick provide an intellectual counterpoint to the raw emotion of Jo and are very well acted.

The bad points are

  • The eye candy sidekick does not work for me at all nor does the tough boss.
  • The plots of the crimes solved vary from the mind-numbingly obvious to the ‘where did that come from?’
  • Assuming Spiral (Engerenages) and other such shows are vaguely correct about the French legal system, this bears no resemblance to it.
  • Tied to the last point, this is a US cop series transplanted to France without changing the milieu at all other than the great use of Parisian landmarks.

The so-so points are

  • Jill Hennessy does well with what is an odd role being a nun but also Jo’s sex interest but is woefully underused.

I really would like to have liked this more than I did but it would have needed major reworking for a second series which does not seem to be happening despite good ratings outside France, the ratings in France were deemed too poor (5.3m by the final episode) for a series costing €2 million per episode.

Out of ten, 5 or 6 for being a  really valiant effort at something similar to Van der Valk in the 1970s – an English language police series set overseas.