sun 14/07/2024

Van der Valk, Series 2 Finale, ITV review - sleaze, corruption and skulduggery in Amsterdam | reviews, news & interviews

Van der Valk, Series 2 Finale, ITV review - sleaze, corruption and skulduggery in Amsterdam

Van der Valk, Series 2 Finale, ITV review - sleaze, corruption and skulduggery in Amsterdam

Marc Warren grows into the role of the yobbish detective

Marc Warren as Van der Valk, with Maimie McCoy as Lucienne Hassell

Despite the jarring effect of having British actors speaking colloquial English while purporting to be Dutch policemen working in Amsterdam, the second series of ITV’s Van der Valk arrived at its third and final episode feeling as if it had reached its comfort zone.

The culture-crossover works less jarringly than it did in ITV’s recent Murder in Provence, and by keeping the show securely locked within the streets, docks, canals and familiar landmarks of Amsterdam, it brews up a persuasively Dutch flavour. The fact that the Dutch are famously fluent English speakers (probably because Dutch is hardly spoken anywhere else) helps ease us across the linguistic divide.

Meanwhile, Marc Warren looks as if his lead role of Piet Van der Valk fits him better now (perhaps that’s because they’ve given him an exec-producer credit), and though he’s a bit of a yob, he exerts a sort of brattish, maverick-y authority which makes for quite diverting viewing. He's a maverick detective so therefore his love life continues to be a shambles, as his girlfriend Lena (Loes Haverkort) is the latest to discover.

This week’s story, Payback in Amsterdam, involved a – would you believe it – gruesome murder, this time of young cello prodigy Fleur Mas (Hadewych van Gent, pictured left), who died after having acid thrown in her face as she walked through the foyer of the Muziekgebouw concert hall. The ghastly disfigurement of her face, on display as she lay in the mortuary, was one of the most memorable moments, and not in a good way.

In fact, for a mainstream Sunday evening programme, Van der Valk (screenplay by Chris Murray) doles out more than its fair share of horrors. There were a couple of bone-crunchingly unpleasant scenes of violence, both involving a highly toxic baddie called Ivo de Witt (Kay Greidanus). Not satisfied with giving Van der Valk himself a brutal battering in an underground car park – though our hero bounced back with implausible haste – he also subjected investigative journalist Arjan Hersi (Thomas Acda) to some hideous torture before chucking him through a window while tied to a chair. Vladimir Putin might have found a job for him if Van der Valk’s crew hadn’t got there first.

Behind the thuggery and dead bodies lay a story that centred around sleazy business tycoon Stefan Bodecker (Adrian Schiller), sometime owner of the notorious Zecker club. Bodecker seemed to have been infected with some of Jeffrey Epstein’s DNA, since his masterminding of a girl-trafficking network had lured a horde of politicians, celebrities, businessmen and royalty into his despicable web of vice. The journalist’s discovery of Bodecker’s hoard of incriminating videotapes made him the man who knew far too much, with predictable consequences. As Van der Valk and his trusty team (including Maimie McCoy as Lucienne Hassell, Luke Allen-Gale as Brad De Vries and Eliot Barnes-Worrell as Job Cloovers) unpicked the unsavoury layers of the case, they discovered how Bodecker’s poison had leaked down through the generations.

It’s not the greatest cop show on TV, but at least Van der Valk is making an effort at self-improvement. It even affords scope for picturesque scenes of the titular 'tec gliding into the sunset on his antique sailing barge. Series three, they say, has already been commissioned.


What cello concerto was it?!!

It's the Dvorak B minor concerto.

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