Wednesday, December 16, 2009

BBCFour and why I love it

Now I would continue reviewing Le restaurant but there doesn't seem to be much point now that my favourites have been dumped and those shark-eyed winking no-hopers James and JJ have survived thanks to their ruthlessly competent and increasingly contemptuous sous chef. This year's crop have been the most hopeless yet, and I can't see Raymond Blanc risking his sanity and reputation for another run next year.

So I'm going to warble the praises of BBC4 instead. It's great. In fact, I'd like the BBC board to divide my licence fee equally between BBC4 and Radios 4 and 5live. Someone else can pay for Eastenders.

This week's offerings have been a fascinating history of Russian art -in which I discovered that Peter the Great had stayed in Deptford, a French murder mystery and the utterly magnificent Wallander.

The French murder mystery is called 'The Poisoner' and tells the apparently true story of a middle aged woman torn apart by jealousy and village gossip. It's beautifully filmed in harsh grey and leached colour for the village scenes: and warm browns and reds for the Parisien scenes. Marie is a country widow who refuses the advances of her neighbour. Neighbour and best friend (who also slept with her late husband) conspire to spread the story that Marie poisoned her husband so that she could run off with her German lodger - this all takes place in 1947, so feelings about Germans run a little wild. Marie is arrested and the weasly investigating officer ain't no Morse. At the end of the first episode, she's about to go to trial, having been tricked into a confession by ber cellmate (working for M N'est-pas Morse). A campaigning young journalist has taken up her cause and she has a cute lawyer, so things may be looking up (for the journo and the lawyer anyway)

Watching Wallander in Swedish is hard work. You can't help but see names from the IKEA catalogue all over the place. So they'll talk about a murder in Malmo and you'll wonder what if it was a problem with the assembly instructions. And blood! Everywhere! Not to mention scenery, snow, wind and a lead character who always appears to be on the brink of a breakdown, aided by his equally glum daughter and her on-off boyfriend. Wallander takes us on a tour of Sweden's darker side, and we discover that it's just like home, only colder.

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