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The Latest Reboot Is Intriguing and Fun, and It's on PBS: 'Van der Valk'
September 13, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 


Piet Van der Valk has returned after an absence of almost three decades, and his people skills have not improved.

The curt Dutch detective can still track down bad guys, though, and he will prove it on Van der Valk (as part of the Masterpiece series), which launches Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

The British-produced series, which aired earlier this year in the U.K., is alas just three episodes long. In keeping with a frequent British production model, each episode plays like a full-length, self-contained TV movie.

Fans of the first Van der Valk series, whose five seasons were spread out over 20 years from 1972 to 1992, will immediately notice that Simon "Piet" Van der Valk is no longer played by Barry Foster.

The new kid is Marc Warren, who is naturally somewhat younger yet has the same exasperation with the rest of the human race. He also has the same terrible luck with women, though much of that bad luck is self-generated.

An early scene in which we see him on an Internet date is hilarious, at least to everyone except Van der Valk.

We like the new Van der Valk, in any case, and he's got a great new partner in Lucienne Hassell (Maimie McCoy), an unflappable bulldog of a cop who nonetheless makes time to monitor Van der Valk's faltering love life.

Their relationship is yet another variation, and a good one, on odd-couple cop partnerships. That relationship is most brilliantly symbolized by the simplest of devices: When his cell phones, the ID on the screen says, "Her." When hers rings, the ID says, "Him."

The opening tale in the reincarnated Van der Valk has the team, including junk-food junkie Brad de Vries (Luke Allen-Gale) and the brilliant, beleaguered geek Job Cloovers (Elliot Barnes-Worrell), tackling what looks to be a triple murder.

Connecting the victims proves difficult, however, and gradually, factoid-by-factoid, it becomes clear to Van der Valk what we, the viewers, have known all along: that not all triple murders are perpetrated equally.

Van der Valk has limited people skills, making him brusque with suspects, witnesses, and colleagues. Hassell understands this and pays no attention to his tone. That's going to be a learned skill for the others, particularly Cloovers.

Like the earlier Van der Valk series, this one is based on the books written and characters created by Nicolas Freeling. It isn't necessary to have seen any of the Foster series to know what's going on, and Warren's tone, while singular to him, marks no radical departure.

In a challenging autumn television season, Van der Valk offers three solid, and fresh, mystery dramas.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Zeke
While this is showing up on IMDb as September broadcast, it was show previously on iTV in April, 2020. Perhaps a series should be "copyrighted" so as to indicate its "birth"?
Sep 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
 
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