Van der Valk is a British television series that was produced by Thames Television for the ITV network. It starred Barry Foster in the title role as Dutch police detective Commissaris "Piet" (real name Simon) van der Valk. Based on the characters and atmosphere (but not the plots) of the novels of Nicolas Freeling, the first two series was shown in 1972 and '73. After a short hiatus production was taken over by Thames subsidiary Euston Films in 1977. Finally a fourth series appeared in 1992, in which Van der Valk's now-adult son was also an officer in the same force as his father.
In April 2020 ITV aired an updated remake of show, with Marc Warren taking over the title role. This was followed by a second series shown in 2022, and a third in 2023.
The theme from the series was an unexpected chart hit.
This cop show has examples of these tropes:
- Aloof Leader, Affable Subordinate: Van der Valk, and his sidekick Johnny Kroon in the original series. He has a similar dynamic with his team in the reboot.
- The Beautiful Elite: Van der Valk dealt with Amsterdam's version in many episodes in the two original series. He regarded this duty as one of the least desirable aspects of his job as Commissaris.
- Break Away Pop Hit: The theme tune, "Eye Level", played by the Simon Park orchestra, became a smash hit in its own right.
- It finally made an appearance in the update - at the closing credits of the last episode of the first series.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The update has a mad scientist pathologist. He drinks while on duty and passes out on the slab.
- Canon Foreigner: All the main cast in the reboot, aside from Van der Valk himself. The only other Freeling character to appear, was Van der Valk's wife Arlette in the Series 1 finale. Her sole appearance occurs in a flashback, and by the time she first appears on frame, she's already dead.
- Caught on Tape: In the update, the murder of a fashion vlogger is shown in it's entirely on the internet, as he was doing a livestream at the time.
- Da Chief: Hoofdcommissaris Samson in the original series.
- Death by Adaptation: Arlette Van der Valk. In the books, and original TV adaptation, she is often involved in her husband's investigations, even serving as the protagonist of her own two novels after Piet is killed off. In the reboot, her sole appearance is as a corpse, having drowned after a car accident threw her into a nearby river.
- Finger in the Mail: The mother of a kidnap victim receives a package of her son’s finger in the post in the first episode of the update.
- Good-Guy Bar: The café/bar in the update. The team end up spending so much time there that it doubles up as an unofficial office.
- Good Is Not Nice: Van der Valk in the updated version can be combative. And he didn't exactly handle suspects or witnesses with kid gloves in the original series, either.
- Houseboat Hero: Van der Valk in the update lives on a boat in Amsterdam Harbour.
- Limited Advancement Opportunities: Despite all his years in the force, Van der Valk never rises above the rank of Commissaris.
- Commissaris already is the highest possible rank for a Dutch police detective, only commandants get to be hoofdcommissaris.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Occurs in both the original series and the reboot. The characters are Dutch, yet all the main cast retain their natural British accents, though considering the alternative, this might not be a bad thing. However, the reboot series does use Dutch actors for guest parts and the odd supporting role.
- Platonic Life-Partners: In the remake, Van der Valk and Lucienne are each other’s closest friends, the lesbian Lucienne even using Van der Valk’s houseboat for her sexual liaisons.
- Talking Down the Suicidal: After chasing his suspect across a hospital rooftop, which only comes to a halt when the suspect runs out of roof and then climbs over a barrier and threatens to jump, the update gave us this:Van der Valk (After looking down and seeing a several storey drop below.) "Wow....Are you going to go for it?"
- Twin Switch: The Victim of the Week in the second episode of the update and her sister do this prior to her death, leaving Van der Valk very confused as to which twin he actually has in his morgue.
- Woman Scorned: Overlapping with Psycho Ex Girl Friend the murderer in the first episode of the update.
- Video Inside, Film Outside: The first two series were shot in studios in England (on video) with location filming taking place in Amsterdam, shot on 16mm film. Averted in the third and fourth series which were made entirely on location on 16mm, mostly in the Netherlands although one third series episode took place in London.