In the north of France, an ill-assorted cop duo investigates a murder in a cannery.
Sometimes France Télévisions sells us its concepts with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Take César Wagner, for instance. The pre-credits sequence of the France 2 TV movie (now a future series) is nothing less than a two-and-a-half minute demo where the nosophobic sleuth demonstrates his shrewdness by guessing a cause of death from his car.
Police de caractères, a TV film for France 3, starts with a dead man going down a factory conveyor belt in 25 seconds because all you need is in the intro. Submitted for your approval, on your left, Louise Poquelin. She's a blue collar police captain and a mum. The title song is Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash, which means she's also a rebel. Clémentine Célarié (Lebowitz contre Lebowitz) plays Louise.
On your right, meet Lieutenant Étienne de Beaumont. He's an aristocrat who lives in the family château and HE loves books. Joffrey Platel (Demain nous appartient, Riviera) co-stars as de Beaumont. The actor is a familiar face of France 3, where he played in Les ombres de Lisieux, Murder in... Lorraine (Meurtres en Lorraine) and the one-off TV movie Classe unique with Clémentine Célarié.
A title must be chosen carefully, just in case you'd want to stylize it heavily on-screen. In French, a "police de caractère" means "a font" and a "caractère" can mean "a temperament". The TV movie was initially called Poquelin until someone probably feared people would confuse it with a documentary about Molière (1). Similarly, the first title of César Wagner was... Wagner.
The fictional alliance between working class and upper class against crime isn't something new: The Persuaders (1971), Un juge, un flic (1977-1979) or The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2001-2008) preceded Police de caractères. After a confrontation about traffic regulations in a street, Poquelin and de Beaumont get to know each other formally on the crime scene.
Police de caractères emulates two of the biggest hits of France Télévisions: Agatha Christie's Criminal Games (Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie) and Captain Marleau (Capitaine Marleau). Étienne has a chic vintage car like Commissaire Laurence and Louise Poquelin does Marleau on antidepressants. She vapes and literally can't bear the words "procedure" and "methods" (she's a rebel, remember).
Château Étienne has leaks and Timothée (2) the pathologist thinks de Beaumont is gay. Though its first half manages to be watchable, Police de caractères collapses in the second half. Some of the dialogues are painfully bad. Thankfully, the talented Dominique Thomas (Commissaire divisionnaire Ernest Tricard in Les petits meurtres) appears as Pierrot Picavet.
With Mariama Gueye (Léa Langlois), Jules Houplain (Antoine Poquelin), Sabine Haudepin (Catherine Debranchu), Caroline Tillette (Élodie Letellier), Xavier Gallais (Bertrand Letellier), Benjamin Bourgois (Timothée Richard), Cyril Garnier (Raphaël), etc. Produced by Terence Films and Gétévé Productions with France Télévisions, Fontana and RTBF (Télévision belge).
With the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Produced by Bertrand Cohen and Stéphane Meunier. Music by Armand Amar. Written by Eugénie Dard, Charlotte Joulia, Sandrine Lucchini & Mathieu Savignac. Directed by Gabriel Aghion. Filmed in Cassel, Don, Douvrin, Lille, Warneton and Armentières. Police de caractères is distributed by Banijay Rights.
(1) Molière's real name was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin.
(2) Coincidentally (or not), the pathologist of Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie is named Timothée Glissant.
http://www.cassel.fr/patrimoine/chateau-de-lhamer-houck/ (Château de l'Hamer Houck)