MHz Networks // 2002 // 533 Minutes // Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // May 31st, 2013
"You're good at making others talk."
Perhaps the best thing about the cozy British mysteries are the little bits of the culture -- cricket, tea, and all that. That being the case, the best thing Maigret could do is provide some glimpse of French passions. Fortunately, this installment begins with a story that brings one of those passions to the fold: the excitement surrounding the Tour de France. Bruno Cremer stars as Superintendent Jules Maigret.
Maigret: Set 8 offers us six telefilm mysteries, each on its own disc.
* "To Any Lengths" -- As Parisians are fascinated by the Tour de France, an ink blot scribble foretells a fortune teller's demise.
* "Maigret's Failure" -- An old schoolmate of Maigret's, now a meat industry kingpin, says he's gotten hate mail, but his assistant isn't so sure. No matter, he turns up dead anyway.
* "Maigret's Boyhood Friend" -- Another old schoolmate of Maigret's turns up, this time associated with the murder of a woman who had too many lovers.
* "Maigret Has Scruples" -- Maigret is in Belgium to receive the Order of Leopold, but his stay is extended by a man who claims his wife is out to kill him.
* "Little Pigs Without Tails" -- When a ballroom dance teacher asks Maigret to find her missing husband, his case involves boxing, an art theft gone wrong, and of course some porcelain pigs.
* "Maigret and the Tramp" -- A tramp is saved from a watery grave in the Seine, after an attack.
Maigret: Set 8 gives viewers little bits of its main character's life, as two old schoolmates pop up to visit, each involved in a mystery. These encounters also point out something about French culture: the old friends reintroduce themselves with their parents' occupations and remind Maigret of his father's career as a chateau steward. Moreover, Maigret's school nickname -- "Doctor" -- reflected his perceived future profession. Maigret does have some friendly feelings, but does his best to keep his professional demeanor. Elsewhere, a model train display reminds Maigret that he didn't get to have toy trains when he was a kid.
Like Mrs. Columbo, Maigret's wife is unseen, but he's always in contact with her by phone, most notably to discuss the placement of his Order of Leopold medal.
Another blessing of Maigret: Set 8 is that two of the stories give the detective fantastic sparring partners in Leon Florentin, the old friend who's holding something back in "Maigret's Boyhood Friend"; and Germaine Blanc, the ballroom dance teacher who needs his help but doesn't want to be seen with a cop in "Little Pigs Without Tails." These episodes have a more comic touch than the rest.
Since the series is set in the 1950s, there are little period touches, such as a sock hop and a lot of vintage posters to set the scene.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the production team shoots many practical locations -- both interior and exterior -- with natural lighting. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo track is decent, coming across particularly well in "Little Pigs Without Tails," as the score uses dance music to highlight Maigret's interactions with the dance teacher. Anyone opposed to subtitles will want to avoid Maigret, since they're omnipresent. There are no bonus features.
Maigret: Set 8 offers more entertaining mysteries than its predecessor, and makes for a better introduction to the series.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MHz Networks
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 533 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated