Marie’s Mind for Murder: Set One DVD Review: The German Mr. Monk

If you took Mr. Monk with all his eccentricities, but dialed back the OCD then mixed him with Dr. House without the anger issues, you’d have something approaching Marie Brand. She’s a bit eccentric but she’s got a brilliant mind. She’s retired from the police force but is unexpectedly brought back to solve a murder. She works best alone, but is teamed up with her exact opposite. Still, they are good at what they do and compliment each other superbly.

Marie’s Mind for Murder takes the classic police procedural cliches and runs with it. It stars a mix-matched pair of detectives – she with the brain and lack of social prowess, he who likes to party but has the gut and heart for police work – who immediately clash but slowly learn to love and work together. There are thrills, chills, and laughs. It easily compares to Monk not only in its slightly odd but brilliant lead character and also in the way it throws back to those TV shows of old where the crimes were solved in an hour and there were bright rays of sunshine instead of the dreary, dark cynicism of so many modern shows.

It stars Mariele Millowitsch as Marie and Hinnerk Schönemann as her partner Jürgen Simmel. If you can’t tell by those names, it is a German show set in Cologne. The first TV-movie aired in 2008 with the most recent one airing just last month. This set contains the first 10 movies in the series.

The comedy comes naturally, flowing from the character and story. For instance in the first film, Marie and the Perils of Greed (oh yes, the titles of each episode always start with “Marie and…”again similar to Monk) Marie dressed up like a princess in order to do some magic tricks for her nephew’s birthday but is called away to a murder. She forgets to take off the fairy costume and thus stands over a corpse surrounded by serious cops wearing a big frilly dress.

The thrills are less effective. There is something to be said about the grittiness of modern shows that burrow into your psyche in a way that lighter shows like this one simply cannot do. The mysteries are enjoyable but never is there any real sense of danger, which is fine if you need some light entertainment after a long day, but it doesn’t really stick with you afterward.

For detective genre fans Marie’s Mind for Murder is a nice bit of diversionary television. It’s not going to light your screen on fire, or make you light up the blogosphere ready to dig deep into theories, but on a cold, tired night it might just do the trick.

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Mat Brewster

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