Recent weeks have been slow for fans of foreign TV crime thrillers. Digging around on our web TV subscriptions, we were excited about the possibilities of a new foreign series on Netflix and a slightly older one on Amazon Prime.
‘The Investigator: A British Crime Story’ on Netflix
The Investigator TV series on Netflix is appropriately named. Mark Thomas-Williams investigates a crime that occurred 30 years ago. It’s an interesting story, but it would be more compelling if Thomas-Williams was was not so omnipresent. The contrived scenes and hyped up drama become too much as the series progresses without making much headway or uncovering significant new information.
That’s not to say we don’t know more about what happened to Carol Packman, whose husband Russell is doing time for her murder, than when the series started. Thomas-Williams is a former cop, and he knows how to track down potential leads and hound reluctant witnesses, mostly with a succession of letters. (Or it could be just a couple of letters. Information is repeated over and over so redundancy could be confused with continued effort.)
The staged scenes in The Investigator convey a false sense of urgency. Thomas-Williams receives a new letter from Russell Causley and reports on this from a parking garage. Why? Are the many night scenes supposed to convince us this case consumes his every waking hour?
The netTVwatch team was intrigued enough by The Investigator that we would like to know more about the case of Carol Packman, but only if someone else tells the story. The producers of this series from Britain’s ITV might want to take a page from a more effective telling of British true crime, The Detectives.
‘Lanester’ TV Series on Amazon Prime
Eric Lanester (Richard Berry) is a fictional police investigator from France, and much more interesting than the “real” one discussed above. The Lanester TV series – actually, a three episode miniseries – is available for Amazon Prime members. It’s the kind of series one would expect to find on Netflix or AcornTV, well worth watching for mystery fans that like dark, psychological suspense.
Lanester, the series, doesn’t break any new ground, but it has a few interesting twists. In the first episode, Lanester loses his sight. He then meets a female cab driver, Gabrielle (Emma de Caunes) who becomes his sidekick. At times, she serves as his eyes when visiting crime scenes.
Also, Lanester’s vision loss is more psychological than physical, and, throughout the series, Lanester flashes back to childhood events. He has a severely traumatized, institutionalized brother. Lanester struggles to come to grips with all of this, sometimes with the aid of a psychiatrist.
In the meantime, there are cases to solve. Lanester is world weary, but duty bound. He knows nothing but his life as a detective. The cases are fairly typical for police procedurals. The investigations move at a steady pace. The scenes, direction, and music give this TV series a Hitchcock feel at times. In the end, you may find you remember the characters more than the events of each episode.
The three Lanester episodes are feature film length, about 90 minutes each. They aired in France starting in 2014, but about a year apart. The Lanester TV series was written by Franck Mancuso, who also directed the first two episodes. We recommend the series, but those who like fast paced shows with a lot of action may be less enamoured by it.