Sunday, May 4, 2014

Marie's Mind for Murder (Marie Brand) - International Mystery Series

As a middle-aged woman I'm always happy to see us portrayed as competent, capable, important and attractive on television and in films.  I'm also happy when I find women characters in general who remind me of real people and not moonlighting supermodels.  

One international police procedural series I'm enjoying for the reasons above, but for much more, is Marie's Mind for Murder, known in Germany as Marie Brand.  For those of us in the United States the series, the second for us, is now playing on MHz Networks Saturdays and you can check if it's playing in your area, but also you can watch the episodes online for a few days after the episode airs on TV.

The first series I watched, Marie returns to the police force after her father dies. She is a bit rusty at first, and her colleagues think she's been away too long, but she's ready to prove them wrong.  Her new partner is a younger detective, Jurgen Simmel, who is not at first too happy to be paired with this middle-aged woman. Simmel is a ladies man in his own mind, though that's a bit of a cover for his insecurities.  As they work together and get to know one another as people,  Simmel discovers Marie is a great detective, and Marie discovers Simmel is lonely and deep down a nice man.  

In the first series that played earlier here in the US, Marie was happily married or in a happy relationship. She and her husband seemed to have a relationship full of laughter and mutual admiration. He was an expert on reptiles and Marie seemed to share his passion for these creatures.  He wasn't happy when a murder happened right before their vacation or ruined their plans, and Marie had to go to work.  I liked their relationship and was sorry to see that in this second season Marie is alone.

Now in this second season seems there might be a bit of romance in the future for Marie and Simmel. There's part of me that's happy about this development, since we rarely see a May/December relationships when the younger partner is a man and the older partner is a woman.  Nothing has happened yet, but it's clear that Simmel is very interested in Marie, but she's still keeping him at a romantic distance.  I can understand Marie's reluctance, since I don't find Simmel an interesting man, though he's a good detective. Maybe as a viewer I need to be wooed a little more by this man too. 

Marie's character I like very much, she's a brave and resourceful woman, still fighting to be respected in a male dominated profession, yet keeping her sense of humor and her compassion for others. Marie relies on her instincts and her "little grey cells" to solve crimes. Like many fictional detectives, she's a bit unorthodox in her methods, and gets into more trouble than she should, but it all leads to the murderer at the end. 

In between the crimes and the police work there's humor in the series. I feel there's probably a lot of humor that I miss not speaking German, in the conversations between the characters, and especially between Marie and Simmel. But if a bit is lost in translation, you can still catch the humor in their body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. 

From my little bit of research the series started in 2008 and the last episode aired in Germany this year.  I don't know if it's been renewed beyond 2014. Looks like they've filmed 13 episodes so far. 

Mariele Millowitsch

Marie is played by German actor Mariele Millowitsch.   She comes from a German family of actors. Her family owns a theater in Cologne managed through the generations by her grandfather, father and now brother. Because of the family profession, Mariele grew up performing in the theater.

Found it interesting that she studied veterinary medicine in college, but never practiced.  The pull of the family business proved too strong and after graduation she returned to the stage.

She's known in Germany for her roles in other popular television series before Marie Brand and also internationally for film and TV roles. 

Hinnerk Schonemann

Jurgen Simmel is played by actor Hinnerk Schonemann.   He's been in many international films, including one of my favorite, The Lives of Others (2006) and War Horse (2011).


 A clip of the series - German only

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