Thursday, 6 December 2012


Based on the Transporter movie franchise created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, Transporter: The Series starts today in France on private channel M6.

Filmed in Europe and Canada for an estimated $43 million budget, the 12-episode series is co-produced by French company Atlantique Productions and Canadian prodco QVF Inc. with M6, German commercial broadcaster RTL, HBO/Cinemax, Astral Television/The Movie Network, and Corus Entertainment/Movie Central. RTL world premiered Transporter: The Series in October and already aired 7 episodes but out-of-order.

English actor Chris Vance (Prison Break) stars as Frank Martin - played by Jason Statham in the films - a professional freelance courier who drives a black Audi A8 and delivers mysterious packages against all odds. His rules: 1° Never change the deal. 2° No names. 3° Never open the package. Hungarian actress Andrea Osvárt plays Carla, who organizes the Transporter's missions. Paris-born François Berléand reprises his character of Inspector Tarconi from the movies. German actor Charly Hübner (The lives of others) is Dieter - Frank's mechanic and pal. The music is by Nathaniel Méchaly (Taken) and the theme is a cover from Canadian rock band Rush's Working Man arranged by Jamie Forsyth and performed by Danielle Armstrong.

The General's Daughter
[in German Eine Neue Mission!] introduces the aptly cast Chris Vance with a cinematic and spectacular pre-credit sequence in the streets of Marseille (1) and a parking garage, where he gives a welcome James Bond feel to his Frank Martin. Helmed by Canadian director Stephen Williams (Lost), this premiere smartly transposes the popular movie trilogy to television. Although without the car stunts - coordinated by Michel Julienne - and the well-crafted martial art fights, choreographed by Cyril Raffaelli, the generic script written by Alexander Ruemelin with Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie (the Stargate franchise) would sound like a recycled episode of the Largo Winch TV series.

But remember it's Transporter: The Series, not a Transporter 4 direct-to-DVD. Production of the big-budget series was plagued with problems: original showrunners Joseph Malozzi and Paul Mullie left over creative differences. And filming was temporary suspended after the excellent Chris Vance was hurt while shooting an action scene. The series is set majoritarily in Europe but if locations included Marseille, Nice, Berlin or Paris it was mainly filmed in Toronto and it shows. Worse, more than one third of the 12 episodes is definitely not up to the television Transporter's declared ambitions (2).

If Harvest
[Vaterliebe] stays watchable with a heavy dose of indulgence (see the Audi above the tram CGI stunt), the other episodes aired by RTL don't deliver the package at all. Switch [Echt falsch] is embarassingly tedious past the enjoyable Berlin chase. Action sequences can't save the cliche-ridden Dead Drop [Plan B] and Payback [Vergeltung!] either. And Sharks [Große Haie und kleine Fische], which focuses on series regular (and M6 familiar face) Delphine Chanéac as Juliette Dubois, is just dull. Compared to those retreads of a French-Canadian co-production from the 80s or 90s Trojan Horsepower [Tod dem Fortschritt!] is barely passable. 5 episodes remain to be seen in Germany, where Transporter: The Series started well before dropping enough to lose its 8.15pm primetime slot - taken by reruns of Alarm für Cobra 11 (3).

« I don't know how to make TV shows -- I let the people who know how to do it take it on and hope they're doing their job, » said Luc Besson to THR last year. It didn't prevent him to devise and produce his first series, the successful No Limit, for TF1. The mogul is not involved in the TV Transporter and said recently that he hasn't seen it, which seems incredible as his name will be associated with it anyway. Viewers will hardly find traces of Besson's fast-paced production style in this costly effort.

(1) M6's version of this episode has a different edit.
(3) RTL moved Transporter - The Series to 9.15pm. Ironically, Trojan Horsepower has a nod to Cobra 11.

[Update January 5, 2013] Apparently Canada has an intro with a different and longer edit (and singer?)

See also: (In French) (In French)

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