TV Series

Petros Markaris TV adaptations: Late Night News and Zone Defence

Nov 18, 2020
Dimitris Passas

Petros Markaris is perhaps the most popular and successful living Greek crime fiction author. He was born in Instanbul to an Armenian father and a Greek mother. He studied economics but he was quickly drawn into the literary world, working as a screenplay writer and translating Goethe and Brecht into Greek. He is well-known for his series of crime novels featuring Inspector Costas Haritos, a quiet, solemn, middle-aged police officer who investigates heinous criminal cases in an ever-changing environment as Greek society faces constant challenges such as the 2010 financial crisis, the massive immigration wave from Asian countries, and the general rise in criminality rates during the last few decades. Markaris has written thirteen books in total, featuring Haritos and two of them were adapted into television by the Greek public broadcaster (ΕΡΤ). The first one, Late Night News, was broadcasted by ΕΡΤ1 in 1998 and nine years later another novel, Zone Defence, became a TV show, casting several popular and well-respected greek actors. Minas Hatzisavvas portrayed Haritos in a well-measured and subtle manner while the supporting cast in each of the productions was solid and framed the protagonists well. Both shows were well-received by the Greek audience and in the years that followed their initial broadcasting, ΕΡΤ has re-transmitted them on many occasions.

Late Night News (1998)

Late Night News ( original title: Nykterino deltio) is a television adaptation of the titular novel, written by Petros Markaris and published for the first time in 1995. The series was directed by Panos Kokkinopoulos while the screenplay was written by Kakia Igerinou. The main protagonist, Inspector Kostas Haritos is a middle-aged police officer, married to Adriani and having one daughter, Katerina, who is studying Law in Thessaloniki. The story begins with the grisly murder of an Albanian couple in Renti area, a suburb of Piraeus, and unfolds at a steady pace during the -18 in total- episodes of the show. Just four days after the double murder, a prominent reporter, Gianna Karagiorgi, is found butchered in the premises of ''Hellas'' channel. Karagiorgi was ready to announce the breaking of a case involving child trafficking, so the authorities consider this to be the motive behind her killing. But the investigation led by Haritos unveils more personal aspects of the victim's which put the crime in a different light. The plot is compelling and reminiscent of the popular European and American crime series, with a lot of sub-plots and red herrings, while the characters, both the protagonists and the secondary ones, are real and seem alive to the viewer who is used to the cardboard characters of the crime television productions. The ending is dignified and satisfying, though I have to admit that I saw it coming from the early episodes. The performances are decent with Minas Hatzisavvas -one of the best contemporary Greek actors- as Haritos being the best along with Hristos Valavanidis as Chief Gkikas and Antonis Antoniou (Zisis). In my opinion, Late Night News is one of the best exhibits of the -poor both in number and quality- Greek crime television productions and the main reason for this is that they are based on the solid basis of an acclaimed book. Anyone who enjoys crime/murder shows should watch it without any reservation. It is guaranteed that they will be entertained.

Minas Hatzisavvas as Inspector Haritos

Zone Defence (original title: Amyna Zonis) is a fresh and engaging Greek crime television series, based on the titular novel by the guru of the genre, Petros Markaris, published in 1998. It was directed by Filippos Tsitos and Lefteris Xaritos and the screenplay is written by Nikos Panagiotopoulos. Once again, Inspector Costas Haritos is the main protagonist and he is investigating two seemingly unrelated homicides, one of a low-grade soccer referee, Sotiris Petroulias, whose body is found on a Greek island after a massive earthquake, and that of an Athens well-known mafioso, Ntinos Koustas. His superiors in the police force urge him to let go of the Koustas case due to political pressure and Haritos obeys their commands but he soon realizes that the two cases are inextricably linked. The two plotlines slowly merge into one and in the end, the reader understands how everything is connected with everything in this truly absorbing crime story, set in contemporary Athens which is perfectly outlined by the experienced author. There are plenty of twists and turns and a rather surprising finale that satisfies even the most demanding viewer. The show unfolds in sixteen 45-minute episodes and the pacing is rather quick. In my opinion Zone Defence along with Late Night News,. stand on the top of contemporary Greek crime television productions. The performances are of a high standard, starring Minas Hatzisavvas as Inspector Haritos, along with other well-known Greek actors such as Antonis Kafetzopoulos who portrays convincingly the gangster and oppressive family man, Ntinos Koustas, a murder victim with a lot of secrets and skeletons in his closet. If you want to delve into Greek crime fiction, Zone Defence would be the perfect starting point and for non-Greek audiences, there are websites where they can watch the show with English subtitles.

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