Friday, 11 October 2019


Capitaine Marleau (France's favourite gendarme) investigates in a fun park. Maybe next time she'll go to the zoo or she'll visit a museum.

The bottom line: « No capes! » (Edna Mode)

Launched in 2015 on France 3, Capitaine Marleau stars Corinne Masiero as an offbeat gendarme with no first name. Produced and helmed by Josée Dayan (Les rois maudits, Les misérables, Le comte de Monte Cristo), the crime drama gradually became a ratings juggernaut and a pop culture phenomenon. Gaullic viewers know Marleau's chapka, her parka and her Range Rover Classic 1988 as much as Columbo's raincoat and his Peugeot 403. The lieutenant is an acknowledged influence of the character. In april, Capitaine Marleau hit another rating record with 7.70 million viewers (32.8%!)

The French public loves Corinne Masiero too. When she and Josée Dayan took a break from the series to shoot Quand sort la recluse, a 2X90-minute film of France 2's Collection Fred Vargas, 4.64 million viewers (20.65%) followed her for Part 1 (1). TF1 certainly hoped to cash in on the popularity of the actress with Colombine, where she starred in a very similar role except it was a nun in Africa! 5.2 million viewers (23.2%) watched this TV movie last month. Meanwhile, copycats of Capitaine Marleau regularly pop up on France 3, in Crimes parfaits or Alexandra Ehle (from Marleau's creator Elsa Marpeau).

Written by Pierre Delorme and Robin Barataud (Candice Renoir) with Corinne Masiero, Grand Huit will premiere in France on October 22. Alban Bouchard, who works in an amusement park called Spoutnik Park, is murdered in his "Spoutnik man" costume. Captain Marleau meets the owners, Lucie (Marina Hands) and Antoine Pavilla (Rapper and actor Joey Starr). The day before his death, Alban and his son Jordy had an argument. Major Boyer, of the gendarmerie, reluctantly cooperates with Marleau. 17 years ago, Lucie's father died on the roller coaster and the gendarmes ruled it a suicide. Marleau interrogates Henri, the handyman, and Lucie's brother Bertrand.

What the fans of Capitaine Marleau like most is neither the plots nor the guest stars (even Gérard Depardieu, David Suchet or Isabelle Adjani). It's when Corinne Masiero delivers Marleau's one-liners and social commentaries. With almost 8 million viewers, the series can afford everything. The star is known to ad lib, to the point that she's also credited with the writers. The title sequence of Grand Huit is almost a warning, because Corinne Masiero looks like she's freewheeling a lot in this episode only redeemed by its guest cast.

The great Bernard Alane (Magellan) plays Henri. Bernard Verley, seen in Quand sort la recluse, is Mickey. Myriam Boyer appears as Elisabeth Bouvier, the grumpy neighbour. Humorist and actor Tom Villa (Munch) does a good job as gendarme Kevin, the typical France 3 deputy (cf. Thibaud in Crimes parfaits). Also with Serge Hazanavicius (Boyer), Xavier Robic (Bertrand Ross), Sophie Verbeeck (Maeva Linetty), Vincent Roger (Alban), Benjamin Duba Paris (Jordy Bouchard), Nathalie Vignes (Pathologist), Laurie Bordesoules (Waitress), Baptiste Ballouhey (Christian Boyer) and Miki the dog (2).

Co-produced by Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films with France Télévisions and the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Département du Lot-et-Garonne. With the participation of Radio Télévision Suisse and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. Jean-Christophe Cardineau is the production manager. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Marc Eisenchteter is the story editor. Capitaine Marleau is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Captain Marleau

(1)  Based on the work of bestselling author Fred Vargas. Corinne Masiero reprised her role of Violette Retancourt, a character she first played in 2009, alongside Jean-Hughes Anglade and Jacques Spiesser (Magellan).
(2) "Et pour la première fois à l'écran, le chien Miki"! 

Wednesday, 2 October 2019


[Swiss transmission order] French pubcaster France 3's detective drama Crimes parfaits is a "semi-anthology" where a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime but a detective (different in every couple of episodes) proves him/her wrong. 

It's the concept of the inverted detective story, popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant.

The crime dramas of France 3 are a fully-fledged genre, recognizable from the postcard drone shots of their regional locations, the same actors jumping from one to another and stories sometimes so similar that you wonder if they are generated by some artificial intelligence. The channel is the happy home of Commissaire Magellan, Mongeville, Meurtres à... or ratings juggernaut Capitaine Marleau. The later is the most popular TV series in France, which certainly explains why Crimes parfaits is essentially a copycat factory of the gendarme played by Corinne Masiero.

One of Marleau's relatives is Police captain Louise Bonne ("Comme la poire"), played by actress and humorist Julie Ferrier. Introduced a year ago, she returns with her deputy and protégé Fatou (Wendy Nieto) in À la vie, à la mort and Trop beau pour être vraiJuliette Petiot (Louise's teenage daughter Zoé) and Sophie de la Rochefoucauld, very funny as the ill-named pathologist Gracieuse, are back too. Humorist (another one!) and actor Mathieu Madénian joins the main cast as Grégoire, a sympathetic procureur.

The two episodes, penned by Marie-Anne Le Pezennec and helmed by Nicolas Herdt, try to show a bit of ambition within the limits of both the series format and the labored humour of the main character. Arié Elmaleh guest stars as Bruno Aubert, the murderer of À la vie, à la mort. Bruno is the director of a funeral home founded by his father. He gets rid of Alex, his best friend, who's also the godfather of his daughter. The man ends up embalmed! Capitaine Bonne and Fatou investigate. The feud between Louise and her husband escalates

Arié Elmaleh does an impressive rendition of the closest thing to a France 3 version of Dexter Morgan (Dexter) at the beginning of the episode. Also starring Joyce Bibring (Marine), Louisiane Gouverneur (Annabelle), Yann Pradal (Alex), Virginia Anderson (Cécilia), Antoine Cholet (Romain), Serge Feuillard (Gérard) and Simon Thomas (Joël). Sylvain Damal, the victim of Trop beau pour être vrai, is described by his colleagues, friends and neighbours as a sort of saint and even a hero. The wife of this director of a fish trading company and two of his employees beg to differ.

They plot his murder and make it look like a drowning caused by jellyfishes. One of the guest stars is the talented Christelle Reboul as Violette, a role far away from Amélie in Nos chers voisins (2012-2017). Since Capitaine Marleau, it seems that a lot of crime dramas of France 3 have their dedicated teams of gagmen. Also with Armelle Deutsch (Hélène), Jérôme Robart (Lucas), Christophe Favre (Marcel), Jérémy Gillet (Hugo), François Briault (Sylvain) and Vincent Bercholz (Mayor). Developed with Toma de Matteis. Produced by Caroline Lassa for Salsa Productions.

Co-produced by France.tvstudio and France Télévisions with Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge). With the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Music by Maïdi Roth and Franck Pilant. Additional music by Flemming Nordkrog. Theme music of Crimes parfaits by Jean-Pierre Taïeb. Filmed with the support of Département de la Charente-Maritime.

Not yet shown by France 3. 

See also: (Capitaine Agnès Bertaud) 

Monday, 23 September 2019


[Swiss transmission order] French pubcaster France 3's detective drama Crimes parfaits is a "semi-anthology" where a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime but a detective (different in every couple of episodes) proves him/her wrong. 

It's the concept of the inverted detective story, popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant.

France 3 is the home of Capitaine Marleau, the ratings juggernaut created by Elsa Marpeau and starring Corinne Masiero as an offbeat gendarme without a first name. Columbo is one of the acknowledged influences of the character. Coincidentally (or not), cousins to the eccentric female sleuth regularly pop up on the channel. Julie Depardieu stars as a whimsical pathologist in Alexandra Ehle, a series written by its creator... Elsa Marpeau. Before that, Crimes parfaits was launched in 2017 with a couple of episodes starring Isabelle Gélinas as Agnès (no last name), an unconventional police captain.


Agnès hates the GPS, cell phones, as well as high tech. She shares her life between two sympathetic men (perfectly aware of the situation). Enough to confuse Thibaud, her uptight and by-the-book lieutenant, played by Arthur Mazet. Later, Crimes parfaits introduced viewers to Marleau's newest relative: Police captain Louise Bonne (actress and humorist Julie Ferrier). Isabelle Gélinas and Arthur Mazet returned several times and now they're back again in Comme un froid entre nous and Au théâtre ce soir. But this time their characters have last names: Agnès Bertaud and Thibaud Demazière.

Both episodes were penned by Didier Le Pêcheur & Delphine Labouret. Daniel Marlin, the murderer of Comme un froid entre nous, owns a restaurant in a ski resort. He locks up Julien Beaufort, his employee, in the cold room and disguises the crime as a snowboard accident. Agnès and Thibaud are called by Colonel Yves Lachassagne, of the local Gendarmerie. Julien, alias Manuel Langlois, was actually a con man and a blackmailer. Marlin happens to be the brother-in-law of Colonel Lachassagne, whose family is very important in the region.

Humorist and actor Bruno Salomone (Mention Particulière) plays Daniel. Isabelle Gélinas and him starred in Fais pas ci, fais pas ça (2007-2017) and Comme un froid entre nous looks just like a pretext to film a reunion in a nice ski station (La Joue du Loup). The scenery is not enough to forget the painful dialogues and the clichés. Also with François Cottrelle (Yves Lachassagne), Julien Bodet (Julien), Géraldine Loup (Françoise), Christine Cardeur (Pathologist), etc. Directed by Philippe Bérenger (Nicolas Le Floch).


Helmed by Didier Le Pêcheur, Au théâtre ce soir guest stars the popular Bernard Le Coq (Une famille formidable) as a declining actor named Martial Rey. Rey coldly strangles Xavier Mallory, who was about to replace him as director of the Centre dramatique national de Marseille. He manages to have a solid gold alibi and frames a taxi driver who has a criminal record. Agnès, a huge fan of Martial, investigates with Thibaud while dealing with personal complications when she must live with her two "husbands" under the same roof. 

This episode is almost perfect, except for the Agatha Christie-esque stage resolution. Its title refers to Au théâtre ce soir (1966-1986), a famous French television programme. The writers imagined the résumé of Martial Rey: L'éclusier de Conflans, L'âne et M. le maire, À trois on saute or... Nonosse (directed by Didier Le Pêcheur!) Agnès even watches a VHS of the latter (1) from a very recognizable company. Max (Thomas Walch), the pathologist, knows everything about the victim's theatrical performances: La trilogie du silence, Anatomie de l'indifférence, La nuit céruléenne...

The intro of Clovis Masson's radio show sounds like the theme of Radioscopie (France Inter, 1968-1990) composed by Georges Delerue. The plot of Au théâtre ce soir is good. The humour, well dosed, is enjoyable. The main cast and the guest actors are excellent. Also starring Renaud Leymans (Clovis), Vanessa David (Anne Grandet), Franck Manzoni (Yann Grandet), Nicolas Sartous (Xavier Mallory), Frank Adrien (Philippe), Laurent Fernandez (Micha), etc. Co-produced by Éléphant Story and France Télévisions, with AT-Production and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge).

Produced with the participation of RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) and TV5 Monde. Guillaume Renouil and Gaëlle Cholet are the producers. Executive production by Pierre Gallo for Solune Production. Music and theme from Crimes parfaits composed by Jean-Pierre Taïeb. Cinematography by Pierre Milon (Comme un froid entre nous) and Eric Guichard (Au théâtre ce soir).

Not yet shown by France 3.

(1) "Le film aux 7 millions de spectateurs."