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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Heinrich von Alternberg returns home to find that the estate his father has left him is penniless. The non-conformist German count decides to adopt a more everyday appellation of Henry Altern and earn his keep through private detective work, discovering he has a knack for it. Often, he's aided by his ex-wife, journalist Lisa Prentice. Written by
Take the creator and the producer of The Professionals, the composer of Beverly Hills Cop, and you should have a sure-fire hit, correct? Blue Blood was a München-made version of a series that Brian Clemens had written but had set in England initially; but when English backing was not forthcoming, the concept was altered and the setting shifted to suit the money source. The English lordan idea Clemens explored with The Persuadersbecame, ein, zwei, drei, a German count.
The result is fairly pleasing, with Austrian actor Albert Fortell playing Count Heinrich von Alternberg, a.k.a. Henry Altern, with great sincerity. And he has sufficient charisma to play a count, albeit a penniless one driven to private investigating to pay the bills. Capucine plays his mother in one of her final roles, with the sort of class one would expect of her. Ursula Karven plays Henry's ex-wife, Lisa Prentice, who conveniently happens to be an investigative journalist who can help him solve crimes.
Being a penniless aristocrat, Altern does not have the funds to make his character particularly different to others of this ilkAmos Burke he is not. But as he goes from case to case, there are those who adore a chance at snobbery by associating with him; and despite being broke, it appears that his title is useful credit for renting a luxury apartment in one episode. However, the back-story of his being a titled German doesn't seem to impact greatly (and probably doesn't work well in countries that got rid of their monarchies a long time ago); hints of his near-participation in the Olympics (for skiing) and his thirst for adventure were more relevant. One episode, 'Deadly Weekend', was told in flashback, to explain that he had an amateurish knack for solving crimesthough the script was one of the weakest among the nine stories.
The scripts are generally acceptable, though one might label them 'Eurobland'. There is usually a rather simple plot at the core, layered with a few minor twists. The stories lack the sophistication of what Clemens had turned out for The Professionals, but are on a par with most private-eye series of the late 1980s. Sidney Hayers' direction has plenty of pace for any idiosyncrasies to be readily ignored; and the continental European settings in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Austria help endow the show with a little exoticism compared to British and American fare. Guest stars such as Lewis Collins (from The Professionals), Franco Nero, and Lauren Hutton contribute to Blue Blood's globe- (or at least continent-) trotting idea. German pop songs sung in English, occasionally used for incidental music, are period but pleasant.
And when there is a pretty enough female guest starsuch as Swiss actress Denise VirieuxKarven conveniently goes missing from that episode's cast.
If you seek character development, look elsewhere. Like The New Avengers and The Professionals, Clemens' earlier shows, everything is wrapped up at the end of the hour, and the question of whether Henry and Lisa would ever reconcile is never answered. By the next episode, it's all reset anyway. Henry still has no money, Lisa is on another story that happens to coincide with something Henry gets hired for, and Mum just potters around at a castle with no heating.
The series was actually filmed in English, and one quirk of this was that Karven was unable to dub herself in the German version due to other commitments. Oddly, she was criticized at the time in Germany for her weak voice in Hörzu magazine. But the original English dialogue is acceptable, if dullsomething that probably keeps Blue Blood from being repeated too often, and classes it as lacking mainstream appeal. There's little banter between Fortell and Karven: Clemens was probably trying too hard to ensure dialogue that could translate, and lost the charm in the process. Either that, or he could not master the idea of German humour. A shameBlue Blood is a perfectly acceptable, but slightly too short-lived, crime series.
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