A Frozen Death, BBC 4 iPlayer, 9pm, written and directed by Harve Hadmar.

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I love Wallender and I’m a big fan of The Killing, wouldn’t say no to A Bridge or two, in fact, put subtitles on it and stick it on BBC 4 and there’s a more than fair chance I’ll be watching. The eight episodes of A Frozen Death will take us up to Christmas. Time to clean out that freezer and make way for fifteen dead bodies found frozen like turkey-wings on a bus that leads nowhere. That’s the kind of mystery that gets any detective chewing over the facts. This is France, the home of Zola and Rimbaud, so we don’t have a motive but a motif. It’s scrawled on the bus-stop wall. ‘Crazy mothers drop their children/who smash their skulls. ’

Easy-peasy, you might say, anybody that likes turkey wings in Paris the capital of French cuisine is a nutter and must be stopped.  This job falls to Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier). Her fatal flaw isn’t bevvying, she’s French, and likes the odd glass of wine, or even smoking, that’s allowed as long as it chic and she can carry it off. She does. She’s pretty impressive. Her fatal flaw is she has children. Let’s face it. Kids get in the way when you’re trying to solve the mystery of 150 frozen fingers. Her eldest Chloe (Nina Simonpoli-Barthelemy) is twelve and drips disdain and treats her mother as some kind of bag-lady, as all kids do, but made worse by mama always nipping out for another dead body to work on. There’s a subplot that Chloe wants to go and live with papa, who’s downsized to someone younger, but not prettier than mama. Sandra’s youngest, I don’t know her name, let’s call her baby, is a problem easily solved. Sandra just takes her in the car seat to scenes of crimes. There must be a law against that. Specifications for what size of baby to take to what crime scene are stringent in this county, but over the other side of the Channel it doesn’t matter. The baby’s pretty cool about it and will, no doubt, be a top detective when she grows up into mama’s petite feet.

What baby has to watch out for is not sleeping on the job, but amnesia. There’s an epidemic of it about. I Know Who You Are is a series based on the fact that no you don’t. Here Catherine Keemer (Audrey Fleurot) has been brought out of the deep freeze, where she’s been held for three years, like the victims on the bus, but she can’t find a thing. And conveniently seems to have lost her baby. She gave birth when in captivity. All the victims on the bus seem to be her former lovers. But she has amnesia and forgotten what she did with her life and her handbag. Roll on Christmas with all those weird delights like a guy that kidnaps women, and stages mock marriages with his victims, and makes their former partners watch the ceremony while being sloshed enough with non-prescription drugs not to care. Amen to that.

Black Lake, BBC 4, 9pm, 9.40 pm, Directors: Jonathan Sjoberg, David Berron, Peter Arrhenius.

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I watched episodes one and two of Black Lake last night. I’ll be following the other six episodes. I’m a bit of a Wallander anorak, loved wooly jumpers and The Killing, so a Swedish thriller with subtitles is a must see. A group of friends meet and drive to the Black Lake hotel complex, a remote ski resort that is so near the Norwegian border they joke they’re not even sure they’ve crossed it. Johan (Filip Berg)  is the young, hip financier that plans to make a killing on the land and property and takes his friends along for the ride. His girlfriend and later fiancée, Hanne (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) who look like a young Winona Ryder isn’t sure about the hotel, isn’t sure about the noises coming from the basement and therefore isn’t sure about him. Her sister Mette (Mathilde Norholt) who is doctor ask Hanne if she’s still taking her meds. Their brother drowned when Hanne was twelve and she has never got over it. She’s off-kilter as some of the locals. The caretaker Erkki (Nils Ole Oftebro), for example, refuses to open the cellar door and threatens to punch the putative owner Johan when the latter gets a bit stroppy and challenges his lame excuses for doing nothing. Then there’s the appearance of those strange children’s drawings (a dramatic device I used in my novel (Lily Poole https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lily-Poole-Jack-ODonnell/dp/1783522356) and the way Jessan (Aliette Opheim) suffers from mysterious pains in her bloodshot eye, sleepwalks and is drawn to the cellar door. Her boyfriend,  Frank (Philip Oros) seems powerless to help when she sleepwalks and when she becomes possessed by drugs or something more malevolent. Nobody can offer any answers. Osvald (Victor von Schirach) cook and bottle- washer in the hotel complex is filmed entering the cellar, but he claims he too sleepwalks and has no recollection of it. He also claims to have no knowledge of another party making a bid for the complex, but Johan doesn’t trust him. The key to what happened twenty years ago is the local Lippi (Valter Skarsgard).  He’s nearer in age to Hanne that the distant Johan and teaches her to ride a motorised snow-ski. It doesn’t take much delving to uncover the facts and guess they’ll get together. Here we are in Stephen King’s The Shining territory. Isolated hotel. Hannah’s psychic presence and the backstory of murders that took place in the hotel when it first opened. Father, mother, and children, holding hands as they were all smothered. An open and shut case.  Helgesen (Christian Skolmen) is shown confessing to the crimes on an old betaxam tapes Hannah watches and replays. Then she spots it. He said something made him do it. The hotel is built on the grounds of an old mental sanatorium. Local myth is that murdered children return to capture souls. Johan is also captured kissing Elin (Anna Astrom) by Hanna’s sister. He’ll be punished for his sins.


Cordon BBC 4 9pm iPlayer



I’m a bit of a cultural snob. I loved Wallander. Then The Killing. And I’d a brief fling with 1874. Now I’ve gone all Flemish and I’m six episodes into Cordon. It’s a very simple premise: what if a disease as contagious as Ebola arrived in a city like Antwerp and the authorities decided to seal off that zone for 48 hours. Then that time frame is extended. Those inside the cordon find that the only laws that apply are the laws of the jungle. Adding to the tension there is a prison inside the zone and the prisoners break out. Food is rationed. People starve. People die. We’re at Day 18 now. All the main players have been on board long enough to establish themselves.

The teacher Katja, for example, is fragile and pretty. She’s caught in the war zone of the cordon when her class visit the Antwerp Institute for Contagious Diseases where the virus originated –or so the authorities have us believe. Katja’s son is entombed with her behind the barricade. She tries to rescue her pupils from a burning bus and has caught the virus.

Katja’s love interest is Jokke. He’s one of the riot police enforcing the cordon that was left on the wrong side after an earlier inciting incident. He links inside and outside the cordon, mainly through the sluice, the name of an area between zones, and is in contact with his best mate, Lex, who leads enforcement of the no-go zone. There’s a two meter, no touching policy behind the zone. Katja and Jokke share an erotic charge whist Jokke is showering with a see-through shower-curtain acting as a giant condom. Flemish sex leaves lots to the imagination.

Lex is also in love. His girlfriend Jana is in the wrong side of the cordon. She’s a computer expert locked in the top of a block with other staff members. She knows about viruses and is extremely cautious.

Dr Cannaerts is the chief surgeon and specialist in the Antwerp Institute for Contagious Diseases. He’s the big hope for a medical breakthrough and vaccine.

Sabbine Lommers is the government official trying to keep a lid on things. She’ll do whatever it takes and is backed by state authority.

Gryspeerts is the burnt-out journalist. He gets another chance in life and is reborn blogging about what is happening inside the cordon. This puts him in a direct path with Sabbine, but he’s found an ally in Lex.

At the end of this series I should be able to spit in Flemish and I’d guess that somehow the shady Lommers is involved in the virus. Truth will out. Not in real life, of course, but on telly. Watch this.