Van Der Valk reviews: Critics deride Marc Warren detective drama as ‘boring’ and ‘miscast’

Marc Warren in ITV drama Van Der Valk: ITV
Marc Warren in ITV drama Van Der Valk: ITV

Fans have been buzzing about the revival of Amsterdam-set detective series Van Der Valk, but critics so far are not so convinced.

In the original 1972 series, Barry Foster starred as charismatic but grumpy detective Van der Valk, with the instrumental theme tune, “Eye Level”, becoming an unlikely chart hit.

The new ITV sleuth drama has received mixed to negative reviews for its first, two-hour episode, starring Marc Warren as the eponymous detective. Critics have compared Warren’s show rather unfavourably to the original.

In a two-star review for The Independent, critic Sean O’Grady wrote: “Even if we set aside the nostalgia factor, much of this failure must be down to a woeful casting for the lead.

“Marc Warren is a fine actor, and there’s nothing wrong with his VdV except that he just doesn’t fit. For one thing, although Warren is actually 53, and old enough to play VdV, he looks far younger, he dresses too young and he acts too young to be a convincing Commissaris.

“He also has the misfortune (often remarked) to be the spit of Malcolm McDowell in his prime. This is too distracting, and I half expected old VDV to go a bit “Clockwork Orange” at times. Actually he did, by sleeping with an even younger prime suspect, which didn’t seem right. They’ve also made VdV live on some sort of Dutch sloop, and he keeps a retired sniffer dog in his office as a pet – just eccentricities for eccentricity’s sake.”

The RadioTimes review, also two stars, reads: “Perhaps it was the characters, none of whom are particularly engaging (except for Emma Fielding as the boss, who has potential; she also has an excellent dog). After the first episode, I just find Commissaris Piet Van Der Valk kind of irritating and charmless. He also seems like he’d be a really, really annoying person to work with.”

The Telegraph was marginally more positive and gave the show three stars, commenting: “Even over a feature-length running time, there were too many characters to follow. It was hard to care about anyone, including the mother wailing: ‘I have one of my son’s fingers in my freezer!’

“The keen young detective on the team (Elliot Barnes-Worrell) feels like someone we have met in a million other detective series, and the eccentric pathologist (Darrell D’Silva) needs to be either darker or funnier. The world wasn’t crying out for a Van Der Valk remake but we seem to have an insatiable desire for detective dramas, and there was enough here – just – to justify its existence.”

And a scathing review in the i said: “It is clear Warren and the writers were going for a Bond-esque tone – what with the detective’s affairs with younger women and smart repartee with his colleagues – but the key ingredient, which makes characters like Bond, Luther and even Line of Duty’s Ted Hastings was missing: excitement.

“Thirty years on, the television landscape has changed dramatically. This ITV relic doesn’t stand a chance of keeping up, even with a shiny new cast.”

Read The Independent’s full review here.

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