Tuesday, 10 April 2018


French crime drama Capitaine Marleau, France 3's ratings juggernaut, returns on the channel from April 17. Corinne Masiero is back in the title role with Sang et lumière and Le jeune homme et la mort

Both are directed (as usual) by Josée Dayan, who co-produces the series.

« My name is Marleau. I am a French colombe. »

Filmed between June and July 2017 in Dordogne, Sang et lumière welcomes a most special guest star: English actor David Suchet, known globally for his role as Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot. This 10th Capitaine Marleau was penned by Franco-British scriptwriter/author Marc Eisenchteter and British-American writer and musician John McNulty, with series creator Elsa Marpeau. Capitaine Marleau (no first name) is in Langelac, a village of Dordogne whose inhabitants are majoritarily British. Margaret Chapuizet, the English wife of mayor Thomas Chapuizet, has disappeared. Sir Herbert White, a retired Scotland Yard detective played by David Suchet, invites himself on the case.

« Scotland Yard?! Y a le FBI aussi? »

It's le choc des cultures between the offbeat French gendarme and the former Yard sleuth while Marleau investigates amongst the population. Angus, the husband of Maggie's best friend Jenny Sullivan, can't stand her because he thinks she's trying to convince his wife to divorce. Maggie keeps a blog about local tourism where she's particularly harsh towards the Verterac Hôtel. Its owner, Ulysse Verterac, tried to commit suicide and his daughter Lucie is back in the village. Yvon Barbet, Jenny's lover and Lucie's friend, loses his van in a molotov cocktail attack. Does someone targets those who signed a petition against wind turbines installed in a nearby village?

Launched in 2015, Capitaine Marleau has become the jewel of the crown of France 3's crime/mystery line-up. Aired last october, the 8th episode reached a historic high with 6.838.000 viewers (29%!) A repeat of the Capitaine Marleau: Philippe Muir, the pilot, attracted 4.533.000 viewers (19.6%). More than its first transmission (3.731.000 viewers/15.3%). A repeat of episode 5 drew 5.917.000 viewers (26.3%) against 6.196.000 viewers (26.1%) when it first aired. The series is also a pop culture phenomenon: Marleau's parka, her chapka and her old Range Rover are known in France as Columbo's raincoat and his Peugeot (the lieutenant is often referred to). Some of the quick-witted capitaine's dialogues are cult. 

« Une minute. Est-ce que vous me demandez un alibi?
-  Mais ça va pas non? J'vais pas vous demander un alibi à vous. J'suis pas... Je veux juste savoir où vous étiez, avec qui et à quelle heure. C'est tout, hein. »

Capitaine Marleau is the most popular French drama of 2017, no less. This incredible success is owed partly to the character, who first appeared in Josée Dayan's miniseries Entres vents et marées (2014), and partly to the amazing Corinne Masiero. What a better way to celebrate it than to invite a British television legend alongside the beloved actress. Sang et lumière is a very good episode. However, we could have done without a bad joke, a couple of over-the-top moments and the closest thing to a jump the shark scene (Marleau as Eleonor of Aquitaine at the end). Filled with excellent lines, the smart script gives David Suchet a role worthy of his tremendous talent.

« J'ai beaucoup de respect pour la police française.  Le Quai des Orfèvres, Maigret, Columbo. »

The rest of the guest cast is quite interesting. Jérôme Kircher (The Returned), who often works with Josée Dayan, plays Thomas Chapuizet. Amusingly, he appeared in the pilot as an acting teacher and even had a part in Entre vents et marées. Jenny Sullivan is played by New York born actress and model Nancy Tate. Bartholomew Boutellis (Yvon Barbet) and Léo Dussollier (Lieutenant Etienne Vasson, nicknamed "Docteur Vasson") are two actors who deserve to be followed with attention. Geoffrey Carey is fantastic as Harold, the hilariously hysterical stage director ("Peter Brook Shields"). Lucie Verterac is played by Laura Smet.  

Also with James Gerard (Angus Sullivan), Hester Wilcox (Maggie), Jérôme Terre (Ulysse Verterac), Lucy Harrison (Caroline), Elisa Noyez (Anna Sullivan), etc. John McNulty and Marc Eisenchteter have cameos. Co-produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac for Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films. François Bennaceur is the associate producer. Produced with France Télévisions and Radio Télévision Suisse. Filmed with the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the Conseil départemental de la Dordogne. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois.


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