Tuesday, 29 November 2011


You know that time of the year when you catch something which leaves with you the impression that you bumped into a Routemaster right in the middle of the road? Today I do.

Will return to the case of the French Doc Martin ASAP. Those who follow your humble servant on Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/thierryattard) already know my opinion about yesterday's episodes. Let's say that the ratings were absolutely not a surprise (1) .

Tomorrow, Torchwood: Miracle Day starts on French DTT channel NRJ12. Surely a new primetime comedy slot or something. How fortunate we are.

Now, back to this morning's bleh mode. Thank you for your patience, your fidelity, your interest and your trust.

(1) http://www.ozap.com/actu/audiences-france-2-leader-tf1-et-direct-8-faibles-enquete-exclusive-progresse/437957 (In French)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Doc Martin, the French adaptation of ITV1's ratings juggernaut, is back. Private channel TF1 aired yesterday the first two episodes of the 6 x 52-minute second series with Thierry Lhermitte (The Dinner Game) as Dr Martin Le Foll, the curmudgeonly GP of Port-Garrec.

Adapted initially by scriptwriter Eric Kristy from ITV's dramedy Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes, the Gallic transposition is the third foreign version of the format sold by DRG (distributor of the original). Doktor Martin, starring Axel Milberg as Dr Martin Helling, ran in 2007 and 2009 on German pubcaster ZDF. In Spain, Gonzalo de Castro starred as Dr Mateo Sancristóbal in Doctor Mateo from 2009 to 2011 on Antena 3. French channel TF1 aired the first series of its Doc Martin, produced by Ego Productions, in January 2011 (with an average of 7m viewers). And since this month there's also a Greek version called Kliniki periptosi, aired on Mega.

While series one of TF1's Doc Martin succeeded in delivering an enjoyable French transplant, the second series's first couple of episodes take a number of liberties with their Brit equivalent. They swap events from an episode to another (and vice versa), alter an essential new character and try to rebalance the whole thing with "fresh" elements and transitions. They also rely very heavily on the cop character, played by comedian David Strajmayster - aka Doudi (revealed by the shortcom Samantha Oups! ) - to provide most of the comic relief.

The result is definitely uneven: the gallicization stays fun within the limits of the situations and dialogues of the original, but loses its appeal when the episodes play Meccano with the structure of the source material or walk away from it. Movie and stage actor Thierry Lhermitte remains an excellent Doc and the fictional Breton village of Port-Garrec (actually Clohars-Carnoët and the Port of Doëlan) is as magnificent as ever.

Episode one and two caught respectively 6.2m and 5.3m viewers below the first series's launch (8.9m and 8.2m).

http://www.newstele.com/article-inedit-la-saison-2-de-doc-martin-arrive-le-lundi-21-novembre-sur-tf1-87681199.html (In French)
http://www.ozap.com/actu/audiences-tf1-et-m6-decoivent-canal-tmc-et-france-2-puissantes/437840 (In French)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZnH_k3Xyks (Trailer of the Greek version)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


As we did last year, we note the cancellations of the US network season as they arrive but we don't do sitcoms. Net dramas can be a laughing stock in their own right.

Most of the new shows announced last May seemed excellent candidates for our "countdown".

- The Playboy Club (NBC)

- Charlie's Angels (ABC)

- Prime Suspect (NBC) - You mean they made their own version of an acclaimed Brit crime drama which starred a revered actress who marked the History of UK television. And it didn't work?

« Who loves ya, baby? » (Lieutenant Theo Kojak)

The original Prime Suspect, created by Lynda La Plante (Widows), ran from 1991 to 2006 on ITV and starred Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison. Tennison was a no-nonsense uncompromising cop working on the hardest cases in a male-dominated professional environment. The totally unnecessary stateside adaptation, with Maria Bello as Detective Jane Timoney, will shut down production after 13 episodes.

Prime Suspect is not officially cancelled yet, as it is reported that NBC execs are still "considering their options". According to Deadline's Nellie Andreeva people on the show were told that it has been cancelled. Do the Peacock's options include using a time machine and NOT doing it?

Sunday, 13 November 2011


This is a drama you'd rather expect on ITV1 but French pubcaster France 2 aired on Friday the premiere of Deux flics sur les docks, adapted from the Faraday books by English crime fiction writer Graham Hurley.

France 2's detectives sound Brit this fall. In October the French public channel aired a new episode of Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie, adapted from Christie's books but set in 1930s France with a French sleuth. Now Graham Hurley's Portsmouth DI Joe Faraday goes Gallic in Deux flics sur les docks (Blood on the Docks). The 2 X 90-minute drama is astutely set in Le Havre, and stars actor/director Jean-Marc Barr (The Big Blue, Europa) as Capitaine Richard Faraday and Bruno Solo (Caméra Café) as Capitaine Paul Winckler. Mata Gabin plays their boss Lucie Dardenne.

In Les Anges brisés (adapted from the book Angels Passing), Richard Faraday investigates the death of a teenage girl. His former partner, maverick cop Paul Winckler, leads him on the trail of a young black boy caught by CCTV. The victim was best friend with the daughter of Bazza Swaty (Emmanuel Salinger), local entrepreneur, mobster, and a pal of Winckler. Meanwhile, Paul must team up with newbie Lieutenant Julie Fabian (Liza Manili) and Richard tries to hide his relationship with journalist Mary Devlin (Agathe Dronne) to his deaf-mute son Lulu (Jean-Marie Hallégot).

Les Anges brisés is adapted by Bernard Marié (Central Nuit/Night Squad) and directed by Edwin Baily, director of Petits Meurtres en Famille - the 2006 miniseries which spun off Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie. The choice of Jean-Marc Barr and Bruno Solo is rather original as they don't belong to the shortlist of the 5 or 6 actors usually cast in the genre on French TV. Let's hope though that Barr will bring more consistency to his empathic French Faraday (half American, like the actor) in next week's Lignes Blanches, adapted from Cut to Black. The impressive Bruno Solo, in an unusual non-comic role, steals the premiere as Winckler.

Deux flics sur les docks is produced by Gétévé (Zodiak France) and France Télévisions, with the support of Région Haute-Normandie, and is distributed by Zodiak Rights (Being Human) (1). Jacques Salles and Christian Charret are the producers and Muriel Paradis exec produce. Stéphane Moucha (Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie) is the composer. Overall a valuable effort, Les Anges brisés looks definitely like the kind of drama ITV, Sky or the Beeb could commission. France Télévisions also co-produces BBC One's Death in Paradise.

(1) http://www.zodiakrights.com/Programme.aspx?id=6402

http://www.citeartistes.com/deux-flics-sur-les-docks.htm (In French)
http://www.adcine.com/collection-Graham-Hurley-les-anges (In French)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


US networks spend fortunes in development, ordering myriad of drama pilots to get one or two regular shows but French television, of course, cannot do that. When you're not pubcaster group France Télévisions (with the licence fee money) or pay TV Canal Plus (home of Spiral) and want to limit risks, then it leaves you two options: buy a foreign format or seek inspiration elsewhere.

TF1 does both. It aired the French official version of Law & Order: CI and has "The French CSI", RIS Police scientifique, which is actually the official remake of an Italian format. The private channel also airs an adaptation of ITV1's juggernaut Doc Martin. But sometimes they find their inspiration abroad without necessarily buying the format: the laughable L'Hôpital was a copycat of Grey's Anatomy, the costly soap Seconde chance was the French Ugly Betty, and the short-lived La Loi selon Bartoli was basically France's answer to The Mentalist and House.

Yesterday night TF1 ventured into another familiar territory with Con Me If You Can! (international title of Ni vu, ni connu), a 90-minute TV movie aired in their primetime Monday night comedy slot. Lino Vars (Thierry Neuvic) is a good husband and father. His wife Karen (Laure Marsac), a frustrated painter, thinks he works as an airline pilot and ignores that Lino is actually a top notch con artist. With his friend Oscar (François Mercantal) and Eléonore (Lizzie Brocheré), a young actress, they form a team of grifters targeting the rich and the powerful. Commissioner Chambort (Francis Perrin) dreams to catch Vars, although his idiotic assistant Camus (Raphaël Lenglet) is of no help.

The team's latest con, selling the Eiffel Tower to a Russian mob boss, backfires when the man wants revenge. Lino Vars finds in the situation an opportunity to con a famous painter who made a fortune with an idea of Karen. Written by Stéphane Kaminka and Brigitte Laude, and directed by Christophe Douchand, Ni vu, ni connu is an assumed nod to the movie Catch Me If You Can (2002). It also borrows visual and music codes to a genre popularized on TV by Hustle, the BBC/Kudos hit, whose notoriety is here far from equivalent to what it is in the UK.

Of course Hustle itself is not the epitome of originality (see Ocean's Eleven and a 2003 movie called Confidence) but it makes the difference with its style and its great cast, starting with its lead Adrian Lester. Past the similarities with Hustle or Leverage, Con Me If You Can! is a standard monday night TF1 comedy. Amusingly, the talented Francis Perrin - who plays the cop - was a con artist in a wonderful French comedy series of the 80s called Le Mythomane.

Ni vu, ni connu, a Franco-Belgian co-production by GMT Productions (Julie, Police Commissioner/Julie Lescaut), with Stromboli Pictures, RTBF and TF1, attracted 5.109.000 viewers (19,5%). Castle won the night with 6.111.000 viewers for France 2 (21,8%). From what we know, Mickey Stone sleeps well.

http://www.ozap.com/actu/audiences-tf1-petit-leader-castle-puissant-france-4-et-france-3-faibles/437596 (In French)

Monday, 7 November 2011


North & South, the four-part 2004 BBC drama serial adapted from the classic by Elizabeth Gaskell, arrived last week in France thanks to the wonderful folks from Koba Films. And with a French-speaking dubbing specially done for the occasion.

Review in French here: