telly

The Weekend We Lost The Web (and turned to the telly)

I broke our broadband on Friday; the service provider only works weekdays – and I don’t blame them – so for two evenings we turned to the telly for entertainment.

It’s amazing how memory works; we remembered exactly what to do. You hold a slim, black device with buttons on the top; you point this in the general direction of the telly and repeatedly press a button while saying, “there’s absolutely nothing on”.

Remember in Britain – before we were called the UK – when we had three channels and you could find a film, a play, a sit-com, a comedy sketch show, or a documentary to watch? How did they do that?

And you’d go to bed – early, because they all closed down at half past eleven – feeling thoroughly entertained and informed. And I think those two words were in the TV charter; if not a guarantee then at least a firm promise.

We watched Gogglebox. If you don’t know Gogglebox, it’s a collection of “ordinary members of the public” filmed in their home, watching and commenting on the same programmes. The big advantage for the rest of us watching Gogglebox must be that we don’t have to watch the programmes they’re watching. They’ll be the worst of programmes which always elicit the best comments. Or if they’re not too bad, you’ll get to watch the highlights, which elicit the best reactions. And that’s all you need.

But the best and ironic thing about Gogglebox is when the “ordinary members” go off script and get up to things which have nothing to do with watching the programmes.

I don’t know how much the “ordinaries” get paid but the whole thing confirms the ridiculousness of what might be termed “The Gary Lineker Factor”. This is where the BBC insist they have to pay a celebrity near to, or in excess of, a million pounds per annum for evermore, out of taxpayers money.

But Gogglebox clearly shows there are no shortage of “ordinaries” who are willing to go in front of camera and do an adequate job.

Mind you, if that’s how The One Show’s Alex Jones was recruited, I’ll eat my words.

Wall #8

I find myself in the mood to compile another of these wall thingies from my Youtube viewings. Unfortunately, the barrel is almost drained of the better content and I could be rightly accused of scraping its bottom noisily, and for that I apologise. Nevertheless, my mood hadn’t diminished enough after some consolidation so here’s a wall,


Following hot and spicy on the heels of my last post on the dangers of Alabama Yoga turning schoolchildren onto Hinduism, this olde worlde cinema advert showed up. For the love of a good curry… washed down with the traditional pint of Indian draught brown ale (say, what?)

It will be nostalgically familiar to any Brit who remembers the flicks before the multiplexes took over. The ad seemed to be a stock film shown regardless in which town’s cinema it featured; only the address card at the end was bespoke and matched the location – “less than 100 yards from this cinema!


A young Bob Mortimer stars in this old telly ad for the new thing that was telephone banking. I remember the long queues in banks: I was paid weekly by cheque as a freelancer and had to traipse to the bank to deposit it, every Thursday lunchtime, along with the rest of hoi polloi.

Since opting for online banking, I’ve rarely set foot in a bank. The last time I did, I had to step aside for the tumbleweed. How times change…


But the thing which caught my attention in the ad was the tune playing in the background. It took me a while but I eventually recognised it as The Theme from Gurney Slade.

So I discovered this ditty was by Max Harris & His Group (I wonder if this was ironic or that they simply couldn’t come up with a name for the combo and thought The Max Harris Band was too cliché).


I wholeheartedly recommend The Strange World of Gurney Slade and would have liked to include a link to the series here. I caught the whole show on Youtube some years back but, disappointingly, it seems to have been taken down. Bad luck!

It was a 60s comedy show made for Anthony Newley and, arguably, as comedy was ahead of its time. Being ahead of its time probably did for it: it comprised only six episodes and in the latter ones, it turns in on itself debating its own existence. Philosophical surrealist comedy. Who else was doing this in the early 60s?


I watched the 60 minute documentary on the history of Slade, the black country glam-rock band. They tried to gain popularity in the States but the Americans found them too exuberant; the country was suffering from an epidemic of pessimism and problems of pathological introspection. Apparently. Unfortunately, it was too early in pop history to send them Radiohead.

You can see the doc on Youtube if you hurry, but here I’ve just included a clip from BBC’s Top of the Pops, 1973, were the guys entertain us with one of their no. 1 six hit singles, Cum On Feel The Noize.

It’s surprisingly well covered this song; even Oasis had a go, but no one sings it like Noddy did.


I’ve noticed a lot of these telly parodies coming up on the recommendation page at Youtube. It seems to be the work of one channel and the target audience is the one who’ll appreciate the Taste of India cinema ad. Millennials will be bemused. Gen Z..well, er, no… Still, anyone can appreciate the made-up names in the phoney chart rundown.

Where did they find those clips of those totally uncool bands? Is “uncool” uncool now? What will we parody in another generation’s time? Does anyone care?

Wall #2

The kind of stuff we watch of an evening on Youtube probably gives a real insight into what we like and what influences us. Here’s six recent watches taken from my viewing history list,

Public Eye is something I remember from childhood. It was an alternative, if not an antidote, to the numerous PI series on telly, mostly imports from the States, nearly all depicting a heroic pugilistic protagonist living an enviable lifestyle. Not so Frank Marker. He was down-at-heel affordable, principled, altruistic and, in hindsight, possibly somewhere on the spectrum.

The drama ran through ten years between 1965 and 1975, though much of the earliest episodes are lost due to the policy of wiping tapes for reuse. Most of what remains is watchable on Youtube. I think no one cares to much about it to order its taking down. I think its a gem of exemplary telly drama but at the same time I doubt it would have an audience these days.

The later episodes written dealt with social issues. This story deals with homosexuality; lesbianism, though likely not as threatening an issue as gay men at that time. Whatever happened to Susan Penhaligon?

So the world did change but not as the guys in Ten Years After seemed to have wanted it to. “Everywhere is; freaks and hairies; dykes and fairies; tell me, where is sanity?” Extraordinary to think this was popular youth sentiment at the time. Still, he does go on to sing about redistribution of wealth…left wing, then? It’s a good tune though.

Orwell is possibly the most under-read and misinterpreted commentator of his time. And I think he was of his time. The actor playing him here (he looks familiar but I can’t recall his name) bears a good likeness to the author. The comments below the video are way off the mark. It makes me wonder how many have read him and know what he was writing about.

The clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is both funny and closer to reality. I’m happy to find a good piece of Python as I think it was over-rated, over-done and desperate. Too many cooks?

I can’t seem to get enough of Brother Insight, aka Br. Thich Man Tue, and his demonstrations of Qigong self-massaging therapies. In this one he is doing a daily stretching routine and it’s like watching a graceful dancer rehearsing a series of moves.

I don’t know much about Qigong. I see parallels with yoga practice, and I once did a term of Tai Chi; some of those moves seem vaguely familiar. I haven’t the discipline to embark on this kind of thing but simply watching Brother Insight puts me in a good mood.

Another regular Youtube event, almost daily owing to lockdown, is Colt Clark & The Quarantine Kids. I believe the girl is Bellamy and it’s curious that such a youngster knows how to do a cockerel strut au Mick Jagger, straight out if the 60s. Warms the cockles of your heart, as they once said.

5 Dramas for 2020

I’ve posted on films and series I’ve enjoyed this year over on another blog, but here Dr. Tanya of Salted Caramel blog asks for the 5 Best Watched in 2020.

I have never bought into a subscription service. I’m often at the point of doing so when a lot of good stuff gets put up for free and I have a principle never to give billionaires my cash if there’s another way.

For the past ten or so years, I’ve found the BBC offerings dire and dull, but we have a second public broadcaster, Channel 4, which is excellent. In my view, it’s better because it’s less “family-orientated” and more adult-themed (though not pornographic (well, it comes close sometimes)); the BBC has lost its courage.

So Channel 4 has a sub-channel dedicated to international TV dramas and series and this is what I’ll watch. The best of this year has been,

5. Beyond Appearances

Both the Belgians and the French do exceptionally good dramas, it’s a wonder why we don’t see as many of them as we do Scandinavian ones on our British tellies. As my no.1 is Belgian, I should pick out a French one from all those I’ve seen this year.

This one begins with an attention grabbing scene of a tall, attractive blonde woman in a long red evening dress split to her thigh, pulling along a wheelie suitcase down a deserted country road. On top of it all, it’s clearly mid-Winter: the surrounding scenery is laden with snow.

It’s a story of an apparent suicide of one of two sisters: one successful and famous, the other supportive yet constantly in the other’s shadow. Which was which? That’s the mystery.

4. The Sect

Rural Russia is like the old wild west in this drama about secret and remote cults. A woman, an ex-cultist, teams up with an expert in rescuing vulnerable persons from cult societies. They are payed by a wealthy couple to retrieve their indoctrinated daughter from a sinister and abusive cult.

Meanwhile, the ex-cultist’s own daughter is abducted by her father, himself still a leader of another cult but with a totally different agenda. The rescued daughter from the first cult then assists in rescuing the other girl.

If all this sounds confusing, it’s not so in the drama’s play-out.

3. The Same Sky

This a German espionage drama set in Berlin in the 60s. An East German agent is sent into West Berlin on a Romeo assignment, to seduce an older woman in order to extract secret information from her. This is his first job after training. He has a thuggish though experienced contact in West Germany who constantly pushes him against his comfort boundaries. If he fails, there could be dire consequences at home; if he succeeds, there could be rewards.

When by chance things go wrong, he has to work on his initiative to succeed and not be sent home. It’s a gripping drama depicting stark differences between the society and politics of East and West Germany.

2. Pustina

Pustina is a small village community in the Czech Republic. “Pustina” also means wasteland. It’s a deprived community with a lot of unemployment yet the villages are being offering considerable sums for their homes by a Polish mining company which wishes to expand their open-cast coal mining operations.

The mayor is leading a minority view, campaigning to conserve the village of their ancestors and roots; the majority want to take the offer and improve their lives. It’s all or nothing as far as the politics goes.

Then the mayor’s young daughter goes missing on her way home from school. Suspicions fly. A by-the-book police detective is assigned but the mother, father and elder sister are naturally fearful and dissatisfied; the father, estranged due to mental health, is also a suspect.

It’s a good story but the most impressive thing about this telly drama is the cinematography. Despite being the so-called Wasteland, the camerawork makes it beautiful and interesting; every scene is a work of art. It’s rare in film and even more so in a mere telly production.

1. The Twelve

In this drama centred around members of a Belgian jury hearing a trial of an estranged mother accused of murdering her child, and previously murdering her best friend years before reopened from a cold case.

Each jury member has a current personal problem or a event from the past which potentially prejudices their view.

It’s a strong, realistic and convincing drama with an underplayed though shocking twist at the end. The best TV drama I’ve seen in a long time.

The Tune Inside My Head

i. Internal Music

Every so often, out of nowhere and without apparent cause, I’ll get a snippet of a song come into my head. I’m sure it happens all the time to a lot of you out there too.

It may be a line or two, a riff, a solo, or a rhythm. Sometimes it’s obvious what the song is but occasionally I rack my brains to remember which song. That’s the fun part.

Other times, it may arouse my curiosity further: as to its origins, who wrote it, whether the version I know well is the original or a cover, who played on the record, and so on. And it doesn’t always turn out to be what I might have believed it to be.

ii. Dreaming

Though I don’t usually remember my dreams, last night was an exception. It was a crazy dream about going into town with a group of youthful mates, exchanging shoes with one of them (don’t ask me why?) and I remember having to run down the street in these odd shoes. I mean they were odd in their appearance – kind of oversized and woollen or felt – AND odd because the left and right ones just didn’t match at all: one brown with black laces, and the other green with white laces!

iii. A Song

Anyway, I rose out of bed singing in my head, these lines,

I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school,
or steal my daddy’s cue and make a living out of playing pool,
or find myself a rock ‘n’ roll band, which needs a helping hand…

Of course, that’s an easy one to figure out but it still got my curiosity going.

It was probably among the first chart number ones I really took much notice of as I was beginning to listen to music more intently. On TV, it was mimed by Rod Stewart and The Faces, with the DJ John Peel having a cameo part, sitting on a stool playing a mandolin. This was all fakery.

It was a Rod Stewart solo song recorded with session men, and when it came to crediting the musicians for the album sleeve, he couldn’t remember the mandolin player’s name, only that he was with the band, Lindisfarne. It is Ray Jackson.

Okay, Ronnie Wood and Ian McLagan, both of The Faces at the time, played a part in the recording, but the others weren’t involved. Wood played bass as well as guitars, and the drummer was Micky Waller. Something new, at least to me, is a credit for a “celesta” (Pete Sears).

What’s a Celesta?, you may ask, and it’s a good question. But you’ve no doubt already heard one, quite clearly, and not realised it’s a celesta. It’s the well-known classical piece, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The celesta is a keyboard instrument, looking a bit like an upright piano, where hammers strike tuned metal plates, or bars, which resonate against wooden blocks. Tchaikovsky loved its sound, it seems.

Unlike most pop songs I’ve ever heard, I think the lyrics to Maggie May are well crafted, intelligent and imaginative. A proper ballad. They are credited to Roderick Stewart which I wouldn’t have guessed simply as he has recorded a lot of cover songs. The co-creditor is Martin Quittenton who also played guitar on the recording.

At the time, Stewart was uncertain about the song’s worthiness and conceded to the record company’s preference for the session’s other cut, a cover of singer-songwriter, Tim Hardin’s excellent Reason To Believe, as his new single’s A-side. But radio DJs and the public had other ideas, and the single became a double A-side with Maggie May becoming the most air-played and, instantly, the more popular tune.

It was no.1 in the UK for five weeks running, and elsewhere too. It is also reputedly the highest selling single of all time featuring a mandolin, yet only credited as,

“…played by the mandolin player in Lindisfarne. The name slips my mind.”


I’m sure I can hear the celesta clearly around the 2:35 mark, coinciding with when he begins to sing those very lines I remembered above. No celesta in the tv studio though, nor are their guitars plugged in.

Colour me blue, or green, or anything you like.

Prof. Brian Cox’s recent documentary series, The Planets, on our solar system neighbours was brilliant though short and sweet. It’s on the iPlayer for the best part of a year so watch it if you can. It’s mind boggling and it makes me think how could there possibly be life anywhere else. As for humanoid aliens, especially ones which speak fluent English with American accents, no chance!

As I watched it n the BBC app, it threw up some other suggestions I might like and one of those is a documentary about colour. I watched two episodes and it’s okay, maybe a bit superficial scientifically but entertaining and well produced (link below).

The funny thing about colour is it probably doesn’t exist. Or, I should say, it didn’t exist until life developed eyes. And not all eyes: the earliest eye probably only distinguished between light and dark; then there are eyes which only see in monochrome shades. Even the human eye is limited, only able to detect light within the band known anthropologically as visible light. Only some critters, it is thought, see beyond that.

And even within the so-called visible light, different people see different colours. This idea came home to me this week when I was looking over a drawing with a colleague. It showed a floor plan of a building where each of the rooms was coloured corresponding to its use. A key to the side of the drawing explained what each colour meant bit there were so many room uses that some of the colours were indistinguishable at a glance.

My colleague pointed to a room and said it wasn’t clear what kind of room it was; it could, he said, be either one or other shades of green. This struck me as odd. I couldn’t determine which type of room it was either but to my eyes the colour was definitely one of the two shades of blue.

Admittedly it wasn’t lapis lazuli, more the colour of a clear morning sky with a little pollution. But it wasn’t green, no way. Or was it?

I had an odd notion that I could reproduce near enough the exact colour by mixing primaries, blue, red and yellow – pigments, not light, of course. But then the colleague would agree it was mixed perfectly, but he would still see it as green.

So, remember, when we’re visited by those little green men from outer space, they might actually be blue. Or, quite possibly to their eyes, deep x-ray-ultraviolet.


image (top): No. 61 (rust and blue) by Mark Rothko

Colour: The Spectrum of Science (BBC TV)

Venus is Hell

I dropped in on the BBC iPlayer app the other day. It’s been a while as I’ve not been enthusiastic about BBC TV for a long time; it’s played too safe and formulaic.

However, Professor Brian Cox’s latest presenting vehicle, The Planets, caught my attention. The CGI graphics in the previews reminded me of the artist’s impressions of the imagined landscapes of real planets, which featured in the weekly encyclopaedia I was given as a kid. They might have been illustrated by Angus McBride who did the mythical beasts I blogged about before, but I don’t actually know. The landscapes were quite fanciful and earth-like, with graceful though strangely coloured clouds, and often featured multiple moons or planetary rings in the sky.

The Planet‘s planets are a whole different ball game. Based on real information sent back by probes, it shows a stark and horrifically hostile environment on each of our terrestrial neighbours. Venus, for example, is described as “Hell” compared to Earth’s heaven, while Mars, hoped to be the most plausible for human colonisation, appears like a sad, dead wasteland.

I’ve long held the impression that life is a fluke, an extreme, long odds, outside chance and that it ought not to have happened at all. It required a very special set of conditions: a place in the solar system goldilocks zone; the right sized planet; the right amount of essential elements, in the right proportions; water, existing in three states; a magnetic field; and probably a whole host of things I haven’t considered. The fact that life has existed here for billions of years, long enough to enable selective evolution to develop complicated lifeforms, and somehow avoiding a natural catastrophic annihilation may be regarded as a miracle. Though I enjoy science fiction, I’ve often found the facts far more impressive.


On science fiction, I’ve had this idea about the perfect afterlife when a soul is free to wander wherever in pleases. Mine would love to fly to other planets just to see how they matched up with those artist’s impressions.

But then the other day I had a crisis of doubt. How do souls, or ghosts, work? Without a body, they have no sensory perceptions and won’t see, hear or feel anything externally. They are all imagination, aren’t they? Oh well, back to the drawing board…


image: imagined, the brief life of a Venera probe on the surface of Venus, a reality Hell (from The Planets, BBC)

More, more world wide watchables

Maltese: The Mafia Detective (Italy, 2017)

Delighted to have the random selector pick out this Italian cop drama. There doesn’t appear to be many Italian shows featured, not in proportion to German ones, say. The Italians are naturally theatrical: whatever they do, however mundane, like ordering a coffee, it all seems like a catastrophe which could have been averted. It’s as if argumentative is the default dialogue style. Maltese: The Mafia Detective is no exception.

The story is set in 1976. Commissario Maltese is a Sicilian born detective who’s been working in Rome for the last twenty or so years. His boyhood best friend, also a senior cop, is getting married and so Maltese returns to his home town. After a family dinner, his friend and his fiancee are shot by a hitman on their way home. Maltese, suspecting Mafia involvement, is determined on justice and requests a secondment to take command of his old friend’s squad.

Despite what I say in the first paragraph, this is a polished drama with a good script and storyline; nothing is too implausible.


Inspector Falke (Germany, 2016)

Like I said above, it seems German shows are over represented on Walter Presents.

Inspector Falke is not a stereotypical German: he’s scruffily dressed, doesn’t drive a nice car, he drinks glassfuls of full-fat milk instead of coffee, he gets easily stressed and doesn’t appear to be intellectually, emotionally or psychologically in-tune with his rank. My first impression was he isn’t played to be a likeable character but as the show progressed, I felt more sympathetic towards him.

But the show is really odd too. The first episode deals with something quite mundane, normal grist for the procedural mill. Thereafter though, in each subsequent episode, Falke, and his more reasonable partner, find themselves dealing with all kinds of implausible police cases like hi-tech espionage, an anti-terrorism plot, and a mass hostage situation.

Judging by the last episode, there must be a follow up series but it’s not available on All4 yet.


Locked Up (Spain, 2015)

The Spanish title being Vis-à-vis (Face to Face), and often I don’t understand why they need to tinker with titles for the benefit of English speakers. I mean, Locked Up – how ham-fisted was that committee meeting? It’s also, I feel, a tad condescending.

Never mind, this is good telly, if a trifle on the long side – 35 episodes over two series. For me, when things run on for too long I tend to develop viewer fatigue, the drama begins to feel like a soap opera and I can sometimes detect diminishing performances in the key players. There is also a tendency to “jump the shark”. I’d say this just about manages to survive to the last on the plausible side of shark jumping but I trust there’s not a further series in the offing.

It’s a drama set in a women’s prison but with a parallel story running on the outside with police and family. There’s also a third angle, presented within the series, which takes the form of interviews of the principle actors in character, as if a documentary or a journalistic piece on women prisoners was being made by persons unseen. This is strange as it offers some light relief from the tense and often harsh drama, but is compelling too as it offers backstory to the drama as well as commentary on prison life for women.

Without giving too much away, the story is centred on Macarena Ferreiro, a young naive businesswoman who finds herself sent to a high-security prison for fraud and embezzlement after her boss hets away with the firm’s cash. Naturally, she is out of her depth and a target for the harder, experienced lags. Matters are made worse for her when she accidentally finds information on hidden loot from a robbery committed by a cellmate. She then becomes the focus of Zulema Zahir, a ruthless murderer and the most fearsome inmate on her cell block. Intense stuff to begin with and manages quite well up to the end.

(oh, no – I’ve just noticed two further series, another sixteen episodes. Not yet available here and likely won’t be watched by me anytime soon.)


Maltese: The Mafia Detective (IMDb)

Inspector Falke (IMDb)

Vis a Vis (Locked Up) (IMDb)

More World Wide Watchables

More from All 4’s Walter Presents…

Deadly Money (Germany, 2018)

When this one came up on my random selector, I thought there must have been a mistake. One series and only two episodes, less than 50 minutes apiece?

It’s a concise drama explaining a fictional version of the 2008 banking crisis. A high-flying executive investment banker expects to take over as CEO.

It’s portrayed as a ruthless business and our banker has to secure a big deal with a Middle Eastern organisation to improve the bank’s share price. He has a team of acolytes to help him but one in particular is a young protege, Tom, who has a talent for maths. Things appear to be going their way but, as we know from the real events, it’s all a dodgy business.

In true German style, the Frankfurt finance quarter appears here as a highly polished, ruthlessly efficient, awesome monster. It makes Wall St. look like the City of London, and the City of London look like the Post Office.


The Team (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, 2015)

I think, perhaps they bit off more than is chewable with this international crime drama. Three senior detectives and their respective bagmen – or women in most cases – go after a Lithuanian human trafficker following a spate of identical murders of sex workers in each of the detectives’ countries. This latter guy has aspirations about being a city banker, running his own respectable bank. Reluctantly, on the nefarious business side, he is in partnership with his ex wife, a rather callous bitch on her own terms.

It’s not bad but it’s not as cool as old Walter made it out to be. One problem I had with it was because the three protagonists had different native languages, interaction is done in English and it sounded a little awkward, like people reading something they didn’t fully understand. Of course, this is probably what would happen in real life, difficulty in communicating, and had they played it that way all would be well, but they didn’t. Also, there were implausibility issues, but I’d let that go as its a drama, and each detective had a messy life story running concurrently, which was, well, messy.

Hey, dismiss those niggles and it isn’t a bad series, and a majority of lead roles for women for a change.


Liberty (Denmark 2018)

Set in Tanzania in the 70s, I initially thought this was made in the 70s. Or my broadband wasn’t functioning as it should. It had a real low-fi feel.

Centred on a social group of Scandinavian expats comprising of exploitative businessmen and do-good aid workers, the brevity and abrupt changes in fortune of the characters saves the drama from being a soap opera in my view. Everyone’s life is dysfunctional and everyone’s hopping into his or hers neighbours’ bed, but fear not, there’s only a modicum of explicit sex.

The main story is the friendship between Christian, the teenage son of aid workers, and, Marcus, the “houseboy” servant of a neighbouring couple. They share an interest in music and getting stoned. Marcus makes mix tapes to sell on the side and aspires to be a DJ. The two then have the idea to set up a dance club in town. They name it “Liberty”.

With the adults falling out and falling in with other spouses, Christian drops out and falls more in with the Tanzanians. Naive, exposed and vulnerable, he finds he has to deal with violent rival forces and a corrupt police force, all the while testing his new friendships.

Yes, I had to check the year of production. 2018. But it’s the 70s. Africa is backwards and corrupt and the whites are exploitative and openly racist. Nevertheless, it’s a drama which has its moments.


Mama’s Angel (Israel 2016)

I have to say this is more like it. If it were a stick of seaside rock, it might have plausible written right through it. Yet there is still a great sense of tension.

The setting is a suburb with a mixture of white and black residents. The police chief has a twenty-two year old daughter in a casual relationship with a young Ethiopian art student who himself intends to leave to study in Holland. The police chief in turn has a tense working relationship with the able head of the criminal forensics team. While she is away undergoing surgery, a seven year old boy from a neighbourhood family turns up dead on a nearby hill, beside a monument upon which someone has recently sprayed graffiti. The police chief exploits the absence of the capable forensics head to arrest and accuse the Ethiopian of murder, ignoring all other likelihoods. When the forensics head returns to work, she finds she has this mess to contend with.

So if the Ethiopian didn’t do it, who did? Our suspicions are teased.


Deadly Money (All4)

The Team IMDb

Liberty IMDb

Mama’s Angel IMDb

More World Wide Watchables

Here’s a few more international telly dramas featured on Walter Presents…

Contact (France, 2015)

This is another police drama but with a supernatural twist. A frenchman has a gift for sensing people’s memories by grasping an item they’ve recently touched. He’s convicted of a crime in the US but is freed on condition he works for the FBI. However, he has unfinished business in France; the murder of his parents and a missing younger sister. He absconds, returns home and teams up with his police detective brother’s squad, solving crimes while they hunt for the family’s killer and their lost sister.

I didn’t take to this one, unfortunately. Despite the supernatural aspect, the characters weren’t interesting enough and the individual cases were pretty superficial, It just didn’t shine. Although I watched all eight episodes, I was beginning to lose track of events explaining the parents’ killer. Judging by the final episode’s shenanigans, I expect there’s a follow up series but I’ll probably give it a miss.

Sorry, Walter, you can’t win them all.


Sr. Ávila (Mexico, 2013)

This one is a slow boiler and had me wondering at first whether I’d hit a scrappy patch in Walter Presents… However, around the fifth episode it began to gel.

It’s an odd premise that a nefarious but organised firm of assassins in Mexico can operate surreptitiously behind a legitimate funeral business, and their best man, the eponymous “Mr. Ávila”, sells life insurance over the phone. His is just a cover too, to explain his ill-gotten gains from cold blooded contract killings. He also has the cover of an ordinary family man, albeit a wife with agoraphobia and confidence issues, and a wayward son, an excluded loner who sticks out as prey for school bullies. It’s also quickly established that Avila is having a casual sexual relationship with a younger colleague who wants more than a quickie in the office loo.

However, for me, the show gets interesting due to the street-wise and aspiring teenager who blags a position as his killing “apprentice”. By coincidence, he just happens to go to the same last resort school as Ávila’s son. Life gets complicated for Avila.

And there is a second series. I am averse to follow ups but in fairness, the plot takes on a different direction. Here, Ávila’s foil is his assistant, the cool and seemingly sinister Ivan. It’s darker, slightly less plausible, but nevertheless entertaining.


Neviditelní (The Invisibles) (Czech Republic, 2014)

A comedy drama. A subset of the human population evolved a gene which allows them to breathe underwater. These are people of the water nation and guardians of the world’s water, though derogatively they are referred to as “nixes”. They have their own religion, running parallel to Catholicism but worshipping John the Baptist instead. Avoiding war and conflicts, they have lately gone underground, hence the invisibles, but in the 21st century, in Prague, perhaps their day has come to take their rightful place in the world.

This notion is given a lift by the failed suicide-by-drowning of a prominent charismatic businessman and lobbyist, Ivan Lausman, under police investigation for illegal activities. It appears he has an incredible affinity for water. Could he be their promised “messiah”?

Lots of fun.


Contact IMDb

Sr. Ávila IMDb

Neviditelní IMDb