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EDITOR’S NOTE: We happily discovered Dr. Pearl Brandwein while reviewing MHz Choice subscriber feedback on our programs and, after reading a half dozen or so of Dr. Brandwein’s insightful reviews, all of us here at MHz Choice had the same thought: We need to get the good doctor to write for us! Enjoy! -MHz Choice

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Amsterdam Vice is a 2019 Dutch TV series whose original title provides an insight into its origins: “Baantjer het Begin”, literally “Baantjer Begins”. Yes, this is a prequel and an origin story for the late Dutch novelist A.C. Baantjer’s popular detective Jurre de Cock, star of almost 60 novels as well as the long-running “Baantjer” TV series from the 1990s. This new series starts just prior to the April 30th, 1980 coronation of Queen Beatrix.


Rookie cop Jurre de Cock (Waldemar Torenstra) is Tonnie Montijn’s (Tygo Gernandt) new partner in Amsterdam’s seamy and steamy underbelly where human detritus blights the landscape like so much flotsam and jetsam. De Cock (lots of jokes included in script) witnesses Tonnie’s participation in a bank heist, follows him without getting the necessary backup (the police transmitter doesn’t work), and sees two rival gangs eliminate each other as Tonnie lies wounded. Jurre then shoots Tonnie even though he claims to be “undercover.” As each episode unfolds, we discover for whom Tonnie really worked “undercover,” and someone must now take his place. Enter Jurre, who like Tonnie, also keeps secrets from his new partner, Andy Ruiter. Jurre must clear Tonnie’s name and complete his mission “Operation Gladio”. Jurre’s colleagues are inept, incompetent idiots; only the Police Archivist knows all of their secrets and is of any help to Jurre.

The pyramid scheme begins to unravel as sales of illegal weapons and mustard gas to criminal gangs, drug dealers and even terrorists, brings the violence, corruption and death closer to the elite echelons of government, business and the police.

American action films of the 1960’s and 1970’s provide inspiration and the template for this series which could have been directed by Sam Peckinpah, Ralph Nelson, or Don Siegel instead of Arne Toon. De Cock shares many qualities with Clint Eastwood, whose movie dialogue is sparse and acting even more so. De Cock, like Eastwood, makes up for the drawn-out silences with action. The talented ensemble cast is led by Waldemar Torrenstra who portrays Jurre de Cock as the reticent, reserved introvert who is well-matched with Tygo Gernandt’s Tonnie Montijn, his brash, more popular and experienced partner. Yannick Jozefzoon stars as Andy Ruiter, Jurre’s new partner who is his opposite in character and personality, and slow to believe and to trust Jurre.

The cinematographer emphasizes the charms of Amsterdam’s canals, densely-populated and narrow streets, and squat houses inhabited by political protesters and drug addicts whom the police must “cleanup” in time for the Coronation along with a possible terrorist threat in the offing. The scripts and editing are solid, sobering and hard-driving. For some, this series may be a little too hard-hitting and realistic – but grit and grime co-exist everywhere, and people always choose to look just as they would at a road accident. Amsterdam Vice is a riveting drama — and you dare not take your eyes off the screen!

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L to R: Tygo Gernandt and Waldemar Torenstra in Amsterdam Vice

About the author:
A lover of Romance languages and cultures, Dr. Pearl Brandwein has a Certificate in French Culture and Civilization from the Sorbonne. She then earned both her Masters’ degree in French Language/Literature and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University. Dr. Brandwein’s areas of academic expertise include the Renaissance and the Faust Figure in European Literature in addition to 19th and 20th Century Drama. Her other interests include writing about Holocaust Literature.

Dr. Brandwein began her teaching career at Princeton University followed by faculty positions at other academic institutions. In addition to French, she has also taught German, Latin, English Composition and ESL to corporate executives. After academia, she held numerous positions in the public and private sectors working as an Editor/Instructor/Administrator and as a PR professional and business communications executive directing editorial and marketing initiatives for EU clients.

She is a cineaste and a lover of Film Noir, Westerns and foreign films as well as a theatre and opera buff; she also attends concerts, lectures, ballet performances, museum and gallery exhibitions. In her rare spare time, she reads voraciously.


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