Tuesday, 27 March 2018


A hand is found in the water, inside a hermetic bag. Alexandra Ehle, a free-spirited forensic pathologist, decides to lead her very personal investigation beyond the legal limits of her functions and the police work.
The bottom line: Coroner Marleau.

The crime dramas of pubcaster France 3 are a fully-fledged genre amongst this giant police station which is French television fiction. The channel's long string of hits includes collections like Meurtres à..., Crime à, or the "semi-anthology" Crimes parfaits. Series such as Mongeville or Commissaire Magellan, whose success spawned two crossovers. And one-off TV movies: Peur sur la base, starring Audrey Fleurot (Spiral, Witnesses 2) is a most recent example. Since 2015 the jewel of the crown of their crime/mystery line-up is Capitaine Marleau, the ratings juggernaut and pop culture phenomenon from helmer and producer Josée Dayan.

Created by the very busy novelist and scriptwriter Elsa Marpeau (1), this series stars Corinne Masiero as an offbeat, sharp-minded and quick-witted sleuth of the Gendarme nationale. The parka and the chapka of Marleau (no first name) are as known in France as Columbo's raincoat. Huge in both first transmission and repeats, Capitaine Marleau was last year's most popular French drama. No wonder why cousins of the eccentric female sleuth started to pop up on the channel. One of Marleau's less distant relatives was definitely the police captain played by Isabelle Gélinas in the first couple of episodes of Crimes parfaits. 

Alexandra Ehle (pronounced "Elle") takes the family tree to another level. Formerly titled La légiste, this 90-minute pilot was created and written by Elsa Marpeau in person. Julie Depardieu, who was irresistible in an episode of Capitaine Marleau as one of the gendarme's improbable deputies, plays the title role (2). Alexandra Ehle is a brilliant and whimsical pathologist (3) for the Institut médico-légal of Bordeaux. In fact, she's so brilliant and whimsical that the pre-credit sequence tells us she's "la meilleure légiste de France" (no less) but her previous assistant left her to become a hat maker. For those who didn't get that she's whimsical there's a subliminal reminder with her theme music, built on Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.

Monsieur, her dog, sits at her desk while she sleeps on an examination table. He's so cool that he can blink. The enthusiastic new assistant of Ms Ehle, the bumbling and uptight Théo Durrel (Xavier Guelfi), is a graduate from the Marleau Academy of Eccentric sleuth Sidekicks. Alexandra's contact in the police force is the gruff Commandant Antoine Doisneau (Belgian actor Bernard Yerlès as another cop). Doisneau pretends to be annoyed because he's less than a second fiddle in his criminal cases. The public prosecutor complained (off-screen) about Ehle's frequent interferences but Antoine has the ability to suspend his disbelief and the Code de procédure pénale because he's her brother. Of course, the Doisneau family was struck by a tragedy which prompted bro and sis to choose their careers.

Formulaic TV is not a crime, even on France 3 which tends to clone its own dramas (starting with its regional collections). It can even be entertaining when properly done. Alas, Alexandra Ehle is apathetic, cliché-ridden to the point of parody and filled with terrible dialogues. The investigation quickly loses all interest. There are some mandatory "office du tourisme" shots and if text messages a la Sherlock and speed up views weren't enough, Alexandra has an "uber-cool" app to represent the subject of her case in 3D. Sara Martins (Death in Paradise) plays Alexandra Ehle's no-nonsense boss Diane Dombres. The great Andréa Ferréol guest stars as Laurette Doisneau, Alexandra and Antoine's mother.

Also with Sophie Le Tellier (Ludivine Morel), Laurent Maurel (Joël Baupin), Philippe Caulier (Capitaine Roméo Charron), Nathan Courgeon (Mathis Doisneau), etc. Produced by Carma Films (JLA Groupe) and Étoile Rouge Productions with France Télévisions. Co-produced by R.T.B.F (Télévision belge) and Nexus Factory, with the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Produced by Christophe Carmona & Clémentine Vaudaux. Jean-Claude Marchant exec produces. Music composed by Stéphane Le Gouvello. Cinematography by Dominique Fausset. Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle Aquitaine. Directed by Nicolas Guicheteau (L'Art du crime, La vengeance aux yeux clairs).

(1) Elsa Marpeau also works for France 2's collection Mystère à Paris and she adapted Flemish crime drama Professor T. for TF1.
(2) Her father Gérard Depardieu was the special guest star of Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir (2015), the pilot of Capitaine Marleau.
(3) "Brillante, fantasque et libre", said the press release. For the readers who don't speak French it's the equivalent of "John River, a brilliant police officer whose genius and fault-line is the fragility of his mind."

Sunday, 11 March 2018


[Spoiler-free review] Joséphine the guardian angel has a new "client" in the person of Tom Delormes, 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, Ludovic Pion-Dumas & Anne Badel and launched in 2006. Produced by JLA Productions (1), it is centered on the everyday life and problems of Tom Delormes, a campsite owner, and his team. Regular cast members since the beginning are Laurent Ournac (Tom), Patrick Guérineau (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 Delormes, 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 Delormes. Joséphine must help Tom to deal with the situation but also with his feelings as the event doesn't turn out 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 Delormes 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").

[UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 10, 2018]   

Camping Paradis: Un ange gardien au camping:


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 Matthijs 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 ratings 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.

http://www.ozap.com/actu/audiences-the-voice-leader-en-chute-libre-le-telefilm-de-france-3-puissant-patrick-sebastien-progresse/551979 (Rating details)

See also:

https://tattard2.blogspot.fr/2018/01/le-prix-de-la-verite-france-3.html (Le prix de la vérité)