In the early 1960's Kees Brusse starred in a series of short stories written by Simon Carmiggelt called 'Man van alle dag', in which he played a different part in each installment. Twenty years later, he did the same, only this time the stories were translated from the German television series "Leute Wie Du Und Ich" (1980). The original featured feel-good tales by Krimi writer Herbert Reinecker that all starred Harald Juhnke. Interestingly, Brusse's Wikipedia entry states he is in possession of many more scripts by his good friend Reinecker that are ready to be filmed if only he had the means and connections. Since the German parent series seems to have run a bit longer than the Dutch, this is most likely where Kees got those scripts from.
By 1981 Kees Brusse was one of the Netherland's most respected film and television actors, so Avro Television was no doubt thrilled to have him appear in these short plays (two to three short stories in each episode) once a month. For the actor, it must have been a lot of fun playing so many different characters. Unfortunately, Brusse always kind of remains the same in every part. His deep voice, slow delivery and receding hairline never change whether he plays a kindly grandfather, a passerby, a bus conductor or a burglar. Occasionally he glues on a mustache (yet only once did he put on a wig) and sometimes he uses his Rotterdam accent, but on the whole Kees is just Kees. In fact, the entire series seems to take place in an alternate dimension full of Kees Brusse lookalikes. One episode in which he plays a cab driver ends with him driving the actor Kees Brusse around and in another he is seen watching himself take part in the quiz 'Wie Van De Drie'. Slightly self-indulgent I would say.
Similarly, Reinecker's stories tend to become a bit predictable once you've seen a few. They usually start with somebody asking a complete stranger on the street to do them a favor and there is always a little twist leading to a happy end (this is Reinecker in feel-good mode after all). Several episodes feature a male friend being asked to woo a woman just to do her fiancée a favor or someone suddenly having to take the place of a clown or an actor on stage. Brusse's characters always remains sympathetic (even when playing a burglar), are continuously nice to children (again, even when playing a burglar) and usually end up with women many years younger than him (though usually not during a burgling). Only in one story does he take a backseat and let other actors take the lead. Brusse's old pal Simon Carmiggelt provided some character introductions to be used as narration at the start of each second season segment, and for some reason Christened most of Brusse's characters with the same first name (Charles, Willem, Koen). Whether this was lazy writing on his part or a comment on the repetitiveness of Reinecker's characters I don't know.
What makes each episode interesting is to see the famous people who pop up in the supporting cast. Series one especially boasted an impressive list of cameo appearances, including Willeke van Ammelrooy, Joop Doderer, Jeroen Krabbé and Willeke Alberti. Some of the lesser known players like Michiel Kerbosh & Allard van der Scheer popped up in different roles during the second and third seasons as well, lending support to the 'alternate reality permeated by doubles' theory. Script editor for series one was singer/actor Gerard Cox, who also appeared (as one of those people who ask Kees to get to know a woman because he fancies her himself) and sang the opening theme. During the second series the same theme was performed by singer André Hazes. Although Hazes also dabbled in acting from time to time during Eighties, he did not guest star in this series. However, his vocals merited a mention during the end credits, whereas Cox remained uncredited. The third and final series used an instrumental version for both the beginning and end credits. Ruud Bos wrote musical themes for nearly every episode, though these were usually variations on the aforementioned theme. One slightly annoying habit of his was to write one piece of music per story, then have it repeated Ad Nauseum over the course of that particular 20 minute tale.
The series has been repeated several times, both in it's original form and with each story shown separately. Personally I would think the original broadcast order of once a month probably worked out best, for when presented with too many of these similarly themed stories in a row, the viewer is bound to get bored with the predictability of it all. That is of course unless you prefer a world filled with Kees Brusses.
6 out of 10
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