I hereby revoke my statement that the intro to Tros Television's first blockbuster soap "De Fabriek" was a rip off of "Dallas" and "Dynasty". The opening to "Herenstraat 10", the 1983 follow up was even more of a carbon copy, complete with several shots of the same actor on screen at the same time and a helicopter shot of the mansion which gives the series it's title. "De Fabriek" never had it's title in such a terrible font (based on a street sign), though.
Truth be told, this series might have been the third series of De Fabriek had writer Hans Keuls not decided he wanted to try his hand at some new situations, different characters and ditto actors. Still, with The Netherlands being such a small country, a lot of cast members from the earlier series carried over, but in completely opposite roles this time. Those who were evil (Guus Hermus) are now virtuous, those who were nice (Bram van der Vlugt) are now thoroughly nasty and those who were rich (Rudi Falkenhagen) are now simple commoners.
Luc Lutz stars as Louis van Laar, a wine merchant who is running low on funds. Ellen Vogel gets top billing as Elly, the matriarch of the family, while Derek de Lint, Frederik de Groot & Cristel Braak round out the family as siblings Karel, Peter and Loes. As befits a soap, each family member gets a plot line of their own and most are propelled forward (be it direct or indirectly) by the black sheep of the family, Gerard van Laar (Bram van der Vlugt), Louis cousin who made it big in the States and who had an affair with Elly before she married Louis.
It's a bit startling to see Van der Vlugt playing such a villainous role, especially as he is constantly grinning from ear to ear and keeps wearing very load checkered jackets that make him look like some kind of evil clown. Willeke van Ammelrooy doesn't help much as his mistress Leonie, as she is mostly shown lounging about in furs and similarly tasteless attire. Gerard buys himself into the winery, thereby saving Louis from bankruptcy. He takes a shine to his nephew Karel and offers him a job in some of his more shady, but lucrative endeavors.
Meanwhile, middle child Peter, who is the complete opposite of Karel in every way, is working as an intern at the drug-squad in Amsterdam. Unfortunately for him, he is helpless to watch as the rest of his family keeps slipping into contact with various fractions of the underworld. Apart from Karel inadvertently helping uncle Gerard with his drug smuggling, youngest Van Laar Loes gets involved with a heroine addicted Deejay (Luuk Pleysier) and even their dear old dad finds himself seduced by a call girl (Bruni Heinke) and before long blackmailed by her pimp. On top of that, Peter's girlfriend Eva (Guikje Roethof) can't choose which Van Laar brother she likes best, Karel or Peter.
After two episodes full of exposition, the various plots really begin to click by episode three, as the separate story lines get intertwined rather ingeniously. Ellen Vogel's character Elly remains in the background for a long time, only to have a very theatrically played breakdown in episode 5 followed by a satisfying conclusion to her arc as she takes matters into her own hands in the very exciting finale. One thing that does spring to mind during the final installment is that all their problems would have been solved a lot simpler if people had carried mobile phones back in the early Eighties.
This series was directed John van de Rest, who also adapted Keuls' screenplay. Van de Rest added a bit more nudity to the proceedings than his predecessor, Englishman Andrew Wilson. Composer Ruud Boss, who scored a big hit with the theme from De Fabriek, was replaced by the electronically inclined Pieter Verlinden, who's themes unfortunately are not half as memorable. Herenstraat 10 only ran for one season, despite the fact that the last episode ended with a cliffhanger of sorts. Hans Keuls went on to write his third big drama series, "Dossier Verhulst", but passed away before the series went into production in 1986. Andrew Wilson and Ruud Bos did return for that one but unfortunately that series had it's most dramatic moments in the second to last episode and petered out near the end, unlike Herenstraat 10, which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
8 out of 10
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