‘Baantjer Mysteries’ season 4 now streaming only on MHz Choice!

Baantjer Mysteries, starring Piet Römer, evokes vintage US shows like Dragnet and Columbo – with its moral, but not moralizing, straight-shooting central character who just wants to get the job done and downplays the fact that he’s the smartest guy in the room. It’s perfect TV, and makes for some of MHz Choice’s finest crime drama comfort food. (should this be a new genre?) Season 4 features the same ensemble from previous seasons, Detective Baantjer’s got the same rumpled raincoat, he retreats to the same Café Lowietje to drink cognac and ponder the case and Amsterdam continues to have plenty of crimes to solve. The series delights with its utter predictability.

The ensemble gives the show its comfort factor – they’re like old friends whose quirks you’re OK with. The officious boss, Buitendam (Serge-Henri Valcke) is always imposing some dumb policy because of pressure from headquarters and constantly hauling Baantjer into his office for unsolicited advice and to get info on the case. Coroner Den Koninghe (Hans Karsenbarg) is a cultured man who looks a little shocked to be rubbing elbows with the rabble at the police station. And Baantjer’s team of Keiser, Prins and Vledder (Martin Schwab, Marian Mudder and Victor Reinier) are a well-oiled machine, collecting evidence at the crime scene, researching with the computer, working with the lab and hauling people into the station for questioning.

Detective Vledder, Baantjer’s partner in the field, is the source of much of the series’ comic moments. He’s arrested development personified, specializing in the offensive, insensitive comment, which the corononer calls him out on and Baantjer shakes his head at. He’s a sexist bigot with no concept of his flawed thinking or how he comes off to people.

Another great convention in the series is the scene around Baantjer’s kitchen table at the end of each episode. The whole team’s there, with the addition of Baantjer’s wife, and they’re chewing over the case. Those scenes can’t be included in a preview because they’re 100% spoiler, but what’s delightful about them is how his wife joins the conversation. She’s a wide-eyed Gracie Allen type, with comments about the case or the perpetrators, or about Baantjer’s brilliance. To which he responds to her with a shy, schoolboy smile. But there’s one delicious moment from episode 405, ‘The Elder Murder” in which Baantjer looks chagrined and totally busted during a kitchen table scene. Scared, even. It’s the only moment in the series where he appears flat-footed.

Previously in the episode, it’s established that Baantjer is supposed to be on vacation. He ends up postponing his leave and works the case with Vledder. They solve the case and talk about it around the table, after which Vledder wishes him well on his upcoming vacation. Which his wife knows nothing about. It’s a very short clip, but watching Baantjer get busted is worth a highlight.

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