Largely a pale and overlong imitation, ITV’s new version of Van Der Valk doesn’t really make a case for itself in “Love in Amsterdam”.
This recap of Van Der Valk (ITV) episode 1, “Love in Amsterdam”, contains spoilers.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I could do without feature-length ITV dramas, especially since most of them aren’t very good. Quiz was the best thing they’ve done in ages, in part because it had the good sense to do one after an hour. Their glum new remake of Van Der Valk, set in a photogenic Amsterdam populated by a mostly British cast, felt every minute of its runtime. And most of that was spent unraveling a mystery that the script – by Midsomer Murders’ Chris Murray – couldn’t quite keep up with.
The interesting-looking Marc Warren plays the new Piet Van Der Valk, looking younger and trendier than he perhaps should. People have complained about him being miscast, but I warmed to him after a while and enjoyed the chemistry he shares with his sidekick Lucienne (Maimie McCoy), even if I wasn’t sold on his rather needless eccentricities. The new theme tune has some elements of the old one, which unexpectedly became a chart hit in the ‘70s, and Warren’s Van Der Valk is a bit like that – enough elements of the old version to be recognizable, but nowhere near as good.
But for all Warren’s faults in Van Der Valk Episode 1, “Love in Amsterdam”, the needlessly complicated scheme to unseat the leader of the Dutch Labour Party is more flawed still. This, I suppose predictably, contains spurned lovers, illegitimate children, the murder of witnesses, a kidnap, and a fair helping of contemporary anti-immigrant rhetoric, which I suppose is par for the course these days. Englanders, who’re the only people likely to be watching this, will likely find it a bit daft that an illegitimate child could do much damage to a political career given our current leadership, but it’s daft in most others ways as well.
Whether anyone will be willing to put up with this for a couple of hours every Sunday is anyone’s guess, though since this is the life I’ve chosen for myself I’ll find out either way. But even in our current circumstances, it’s hard to justify the kind of repackaged entertainment that Van Der Valk provides, even if its occasional misguided line of dialogue might help to give it a more lasting appeal.
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