Michael Gambon takes over the role of Jules Maigret from Richard Harris, who played the role four years earlier. Gambon and Harris would later share another role: that of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films. See more »
The Michael Gambon Maigrets are very good realisations of the Simenon novels. If you haven't read the books you should know they are less 'whodunnit' than 'whydunnit'. This is what, for my money, gives Simenon the edge over other crime writers. Uncovering the criminal is almost an aside to stories of envy, greed, fraud, petty criminality and the hatreds and resentments in the everyday lives of ordinary people. "Maigret sets a Trap" is an excellent example of this and it makes a great final episode for the first series.
The series was filmed in Budapest which makes a very good 1950's Paris (although Maigret worked from 1930 to 1972 in the novels, by which time he would have been about 88) and spares us establishing shots of the Eiffel Tower every two minutes.
My only criticism is that the episodes would have worked better with a slightly longer running time, maybe 80 minutes. This would have given more time for the development of the characters (we need to know their motivations for Simenon's stories to work) and the atmosphere in which Maigret has to work. In 'Maigret Goes to School', for example, everyone in the village is against him. All we get in the film is a few minutes of abuse and antagonism from a couple of characters in the local bar.
Otherwise this is good, enjoyable TV detective work.
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