PBS Import Van der Valk Avoids Its Network’s Stuffy Trappings
Van der Valk. PBS. Sunday, September 13, 9 p.m.
When the opening moments of PBS’ set-in-Amsterdam cop series Van der Valk opened with a dramatic chase, bicycles careening around canals at a terrifying 12 miles an hour or less, I dropped my face into my hands. How many hours and brain cells of my life were to be lost to precious scenes of Dutch vegan dog-petting and tulip-sniffing?
The surprising answer is none at all. Perhaps the bike chase was just shot as a disguise to get the show past the PBS Dullard and Blandness Review Board before the real mayhem began, but Van der Valk is a pure, hard-boiled throwback to the days of Mickey Spillane and Jim Thompson.
Bullets fly and corpses leak. Beautiful dames wander in for a roll in the hay with cops of either sex and then beat it, unless they get arrested first. Weirdness abounds. One detective, investigating a murder in the religious erotica community (that is not a typo), frowningly inquires of an art librarian: “I’m not imagining this am I? A nun picking penises off a tree?”
Even Van der Valk‘s own parentage is a bit on the weird side. It’s based on a 1960s series of homicide-squad mysteries by the British novelist Nicolas Freeling. After 10 bo
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