Sunday, 11 March 2018


[Spoiler-free review] Joséphine the guardian angel has a new "client" in the person of Tom Delorme, who owns the Camping Paradis.

French private channel TF1's two hit series Joséphine, ange gardien and Camping Paradis meet in a very well done and enjoyable episode of the former.

The crossover is a "rare bird" in the History of French television fiction: the sitcoms produced for TF1 by AB Productions in the 1990s, an encounter between crime drama PJ (1997-2009) and legal drama Avocats et Associés (1998-2010) on France 2 in 2007 and then nothing until 2016 with Magellan et Mongeville, a crossover between France 3's Commissaire Magellan (launched in 2009) and Mongeville (aired since 2013). 4.508.000 viewers (19.8%) watched this special  with its two popular sleuths, which prompted the pubcaster to give the duo another one, filmed at the end of 2017.

Created by Laurent Chouchan with Michel Lengliney & Philippe Niang, comedy/drama Joséphine, ange gardien started on TF1 in 1997. It's the second oldest active series of the channel after Une famille formidable (1992). Comedian and actress Mimie Mathy stars as Joséphine Delamarre, a guardian angel sent on Earth to help people solve their problems. The series celebrated its 20th anniversary in autumn 2017 with its 85th episode. Joséphine, ange gardien is produced by DEMD productions (Lagardère Studios) with TF1 and distributed by Lagardère Studios Distribution. Its format changed from 90-minute episodes to 2 x 52-minute last year.

TF1's comedy Camping Paradis was created by Michel Alexandre and launched in 2006. Produced by JLA Productions (1), it is centered on the everyday life and problems of Tom Delorme, a campsite owner, and his team. Regular cast members since the beginning are Laurent Ournac (Tom), Patrick Guerineau (Xavier Proteau) and Thierry Heckendorn (André Durieux). Patrick Paroux (Around the world in 80 days, Amelie) recurs as Christian Parizot, the most faithful client of the Camping Paradis. In 2017, the series celebrated its 50th episode and left the 90-minute format for the same 2 x 52-minute format as Joséphine, ange gardien. Camping Paradis is distributed by TF1 International.

Trois campeurs et un mariage (1ère partie et 2ème partie) is the 88th episode of Joséphine, ange gardien. It was written by France Corbet & Maia Muller, who write for both series, with Giacchino Campanella. Tom Delorme, André Durieux and Xavier Proteau are invited to the wedding of Tom's ex-girlfriend Ariane Leroy. For the occasion they stay at a luxury hotel-casino where Joséphine Delamarre welcomes them as the new concierge. They meet Arthur, the groom, who happens to be a quasi-lookalike of Tom Delorme. Joséphine must help Tom  to deal with the situation but also with his feelings as the event doesn't turn as planned.

Tom almost loses one of the wedding rings in a sink. Arthur is jealous of him and the deputy mayor who'll celebrate the ceremony is the ineffable monsieur Parizot! Jennifer Lauret (Une famille formidable), who was Ariane in Camping Paradis until 2012, returns for Joséphine, ange gardien. Thierry Heckendorn played alongside Mimie Mathy in the TV movie Une nounou pas comme les autres (1994), its sequel Une nana pas comme les autres (1995), and in three episodes of Joséphine as different characters. Jean-Pierre Bouvier is back as Ariane's father Clément Leroy. Amusingly, he guest-starred in a 2013 Joséphine, ange gardien.

Patricia Malvoisin is Françoise Leroy, Ariane's mother, a role previously performed by Alexandra Vandernoot (Highlander: The Series) in Camping Paradis. Also starring Olivier Solivérès (Arthur), Valentine Atlan (Sofia), Évelyne Grandjean (Grandmother), etc. Directed by Philippe Proteau,  who regularly helms episodes of Camping Paradis. Produced by Sébastien Pavard and Laure de Kervasdoué. Didier Langlade exec produces. Music by Xavier Berthelot, Roland Romanelli & Didier Vasseur. Cinematography by Jonny Semeco. Produced with the participation of RTBF (Télévision belge) and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse.

Belgian channel La Une and Swiss channel RTS Un aired Trois campeurs et un mariage ahead of TF1, which will show it tomorrow. Joséphine Delamarre and Tom Delorme will meet again, this time in an episode of Camping Paradis.

(1) The production company behind Commissaire Magellan. Founded by Jean-Luc Azoulay, who was the "A" of AB Productions (Claude Berda was the "B").

See also:
(Mongeville and Magellan)

Thursday, 8 March 2018


[Favourite of the Month] A young boy discovers a secret agent cryogenized forty years ago. Directed by Pieter van Rijn, Master Spy (MeesterSpion) is a wonderfully pleasant Dutch adventure/comedy movie for the family.

Released in the Netherlands during autumn 2016, the film has become a favourite of children's film festivals. Master Spy can be watched since last month in France on the channels of Canal +.

The bottom line: 007 meets John Hughes.

1973. Simon Floret, a dashing agent of the NGD (Nederlandse Geheime Dienst, a fictional Dutch secret service), is on assignment in a coastal hotel where a "Diner diplomatique" is given. Assisted by tech whiz Lexie, his mission is to take photos of a traitor who sells information to the Soviets. Much to his surprise, the man he's looking for is a colleague named Freek Dekker. Simon escapes with his photographic proofs but Freek shoots him a poisoned dart before he can tell Lexie where he hid them. Her only solution is to cryogenize Floret until she finds an antidote.

40 years later, Tim de Wolf, aged 10, and his little sister, move to the old seaside hotel bought by their parents and Tim must do his best to adjust to his new home. Chased by three classmates, he unexpectedly finds a secret basement where Simon Floret lies in a cryogenic chamber. As the box opens, the young boy breaks by accident the antidote left by Lexie. Back in a world which has changed a lot, the master spy needs help from Tim to contact the NGD and get another dose of antidote. But there's a problem: the boss of the secret service is none other than Freek Dekker, the traitor.

Master Spy (MeesterSpion) was written by Tijs van Marle, a scriptwriter behind two successful children movie franchises: Mister Twister (Mees Kees), launched in 2012 and based on the books by Mirjam Oldenhave. And the film adaptations of Tosca Menten's Dummy the Mummy books (Dummie de Mummie) since 2014. Pieter van Rijn directed several television series, including Flikken Maastricht (2007-2017) and Celblock H (2014-2017), the Dutch adaptation of the Australian drama Wentworth. He also helmed movies like Pluk van de petteflet (co-directed by Ben Sombogaart), a 2004 adaptation of the book by Annie M.G. Schmidt, and Familieweekend (2016).

Simon Floret carries on his mission after a 40-year interruption, with outdated gadgets and a very special car. Not a BMW roadster but an irresistible 1970s blue DAF 44 having something more. TV, stage and movie actor Beau Schneider, well-known by Dutch viewers for his role in Goede tijden, slechte tijden, plays the secret agent in a blend of elegance and (soft) derision. Simon is a tenacious Roger Moore kind of James Bond who has a little bit of Inspector Clouseau's clumsiness. This fish out of water in tuxedo finds welcome allies in the enthusiastic Tim, played by Stijn van der Plas, and "Lexie", who now sells flowers under her true name Alexandra Markies (Lieneke Le Roux).

Aus Greidanus sr (De Zaak Menten) portrays Directeur Dekker. One of the actor's sons, Kay Greidanus, was cast as the younger Freek in the pre-credit sequence. Presenter and actress Nienke de la Rive Box is Karin MacKenton, a NGD agent with a dog problem. Fun and smart, MeesterSpion can be enjoyed by both children and adults. There are nods to North by Northwest, Mission: Impossible or Get Smart. The NGD logo reminds of SHIELD and U.N.C.L.E. The NGD security guards and Freek's idiotic Russian goons seem straight out of a Home Alone film. The excellent Bondian music was composed by Mathijs Kieboom and Martijn Schimmer. The cool title song Give You All I Got is performed by Maan, winner of The Voice of Holland in 2016.

Also starring Simone van Bennekom (Young Lexie), Patrick Stoof (Leonard de Wolf), Cynthia Abma (Tine de Wolf), Bianca Krijgsman (Juf), Frits Lambrechts (Henk), Mike Weerts, Fabian Jansen & Steef Cuijpers (Security guards), Ad van Kempen (Henk's brother), Liz Vergeer (Eefje de Wolf), Brennan Wilkes (Tommie), Brian Worm (Dave), Julian Ras (Jules), Leonid Vlasov (Serguei), Oleg Kovalev (Boris), etc. Produced by PV Pictures with Avrotros and the support of CoBo and Netherlands Film Production Incentive. Cinematography by Joris Kerbosch. Editing by Michiel Boesveldt. Production designed by Dimitri Merkoulov. Costumes by Margriet Procee. Title design by Brat Ljatifi (Brat Creative).

Distributed by Entertainment One. Master Spy won the Gryphon 6+ award at the Giffoni Film Festival 2017 and the Jule Price at Kinder Film Fest Münster 2017. Dutch author of young readers books Marcel van Driel wrote the novelization (published by Van Goor).

See also:

Sunday, 4 March 2018


France 3's crime dramas have become a fully-fledged genre amongst this huge police station which is French television fiction. The pubcaster's long string of hits includes collections like Meurtres à..., Crime à or Crimes parfaits. And series such as Mongeville or Commissaire Magellan.

France 3 is also the happy home of the rating juggernaut and pop culture phenomenon Capitaine Marleau. The channel's latest addition to their crime/mystery line-up is Peur sur la base, a TV movie starring Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, A French Village, Witnesses 2).

The bottom line: The one with Audrey Fleurot.

Audrey Fleurot plays Adjudant-chef Odessa Berken, a Gendarme maritime with a painful past, who's called on the Brest naval because of the mysterious disappearance of a Fusilier marin. The body of the soldier is found in the sea but pathologist Samuel Delaunay (Philippe Lefebvre), Odessa's ex-lover, discovers that the man was murdered. Berken investigates inside the base against the hostility of Frédéric Le Gall (Charles Clément, seen in Le prix de la vérité), the head of the Fusiliers.  

Nathan Berken (Cyril Descours), her estranged brother and the victim's best friend, becomes the main suspect. Odessa Berken's deputy Xavier Zuma (Diouc Koma) is determined to prove his guilt, an anonymous informer contacts her via the internet and the murderer targets Odessa. Peur sur la base is an umpteenth variation on the independent and strong-minded detective (a favourite of France 3 epitomized by Capitaine Marleau) vs the military. Its only distinction is that the gendarme is played by Ms Fleurot, whose sole name is enough to get attention in almost every part of the world.

The presence of Audrey Fleurot actually cannot harm when there are a few bad dialogue lines, some clichés, not to mention the mandatory "office du tourisme" shots (the Brest cable car). On the plus side, there's a very good scene involving a military song played by a digital recorder and a laser point gun, and the always excellent Laurent Spielvogel as Admiral Bodrillan. Also starring Maryne Bertieaux (Axelle Deschamp), Dimitri Storoge (Simon Rodic), Zacharie Chasseriaud (Guillaume Pontoise) and Samia Sassi (Claire Molina).

Written by Alexandra Deman and Laurence Katrian, who directs. Peur sur la base is produced by Troisième Oeil Story/Troisième Oeil Productions with France Télévisions. Co-produced by Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge) with the participation of Région Bretagne, 13ème Rue (NBC Universal) and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Pierre-Antoine Capton exec produces. Produced by Marie-Hélène Pages. Sidonie Cohen de Lara is the associate producer.

Music composed by François Staal. Cinematography by Eric Guichard. Distributed by AB International Distribution (The Berken case is the international title). Aired by France 3 on March 3, Peur sur la base caught 4.272.000 viewers (19%) and ranked #2 behind The Voice on TF1. (Rating details)

See also: (Le prix de la vérité)