BRAQUO SEASON 4, Olivier Marchal, director/Arrow BLU-RAY & DVD If you consider yourself an aficionado of the most uncompromising crime series on TV — and you haven’t yet watched Braquo — you’re missing something; though it comes with a health warning. This flint-edged, dyspeptic and utterly compelling series (now up to season 4 and often described as the French The Wire) is so uncompromising — even nihilistic — in its view of French police work that it makes such gritty rivals as Spiral look positively rose-coloured. Apart from its impeccable ensemble playing (with Jean Hugues-Anglade mesmerising as ever as a compromised Parisian cop finding himself drawn ever deeper into realms of corruption and violence after the suicide of the leader of his squad), the really provocative aspect of the series lies not so much in the visceral impact of the filmmaking but in the uneasy dialogue it sets up with the viewer. As the team is drawn into ever more brutal territory in pursuit of a variety of criminals, with an internal affairs team (presented in highly unsympathetic fashion) hard on their heels, it’s hard to decide how much director Olivier Marchal wants us to sympathise with the beleaguered maverick heroes. And it’s a measure of the sheer skill of Braquo that most viewers will spend their time veering between being on the side of the French cops as they perform another outrageous stunt (including armed robbery) or shouting at the screen: ‘What are you doing?’ Never comfortable viewing, the series is essential for those who like the equation: crime drama=strong meat.
THE MISSING Series Two, various directors/RLJ Acorn Following the success of the BBC drama The Missing, the much-watched series returns with a new case and a new cast including Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey as the parents of a missing child, while Tchéky Karyo reprises his role as tenacious missing persons detective Julien Baptiste. The year is 2014 and a young British woman stumbles through the streets of a small town in Germany and collapses. Her name is Alice Webster (played by Abigail Hardingham), and she went missing from the very same town, of Eckhausen, 11 years ago. Her return sends shockwaves through the small community, especially when it is revealed that she may hold vital clues to the whereabouts of another missing girl.
MIAMI VICE Various directors/Fabulous Films Blu-Ray The pulse and the rhythm of a glamorous resort is juxtaposed against the steamy haunts of the drug underworld in this groundbreaking action series starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, now restored and in high definition on Blu-ray. We are given all 111 episodes from all 5 seasons of a show which had an unprecedented fifteen Emmy Award nominations for their first season. The cost of one episode was more than that of the entire annual budget of the Miami Police Department’s Vice Unit. After two seasons, Johnson threatened to walk from the series as part of a highly publicized contract dispute. Mark Harmon was ready to replace him but executive producer Michael Mann convinced Johnson to stay, resulting in him becoming the highest paid actor in the history of a television series. It meant Johnson had to turn down leading roles in Die Hard and The Untouchables due to his contract. Guest stars included Michael Madsen, Bruce Willis and Benicio Del Toro. Music was integral to Miami Vice. The theme song was so popular that it also garnered two Grammy Awards itself in 1986. Often credited as the first show to match a scene to a piece of popular music (rather than made-for-TV music), the Miami Vice production team would spend $10,000 or more per episode buying the rights to original recordings by contemporary artists.
MAGNUM, P.I. Various directors/ Fabulous Films Tom Selleck won the Emmy (1984, Lead) and Golden Globe (1985, Best Performance) for his moustachioed detective Magnum; small comfort, perhaps, as contract commitments to Magnum, P.I. famously cost Selleck the role of Indiana Jones. In the show’s final season, the producers gave a nod to his sacrifice with the episode "Legend of the Lost Art", which parodied the film. An array of guest stars appeared on the show including Sharon Stone and Frank Sinatra. Glen A. Larson – who accounted for 513 hours of television and 21 combined seasons from 1976-88, with shows Magnum P.I. Quincy, Knight Rider and The Fall Guy. Larson based the unseen, playboy, novelist character Robin Masters, on bestselling novelist Harold Robbins. Robbins was one of the first novelists to be prominently featured in gossip magazines earning him the title of “The World’s First Rock Star Author”. Orson Welles provided the voice of Robin Masters, whose face was never seen in the show.