Thursday, 26 December 2019

Thursday, 19 December 2019


[Favourite of the Month] Claudia Tagbo shines as the new sleuth of France Télévisions (the biggest police station of the French TV industry).

The bottom line: The title says it all.

Le crime lui va si bien (formerly Intime conviction) is a TV movie for pubcaster France 2 which stars Claudia Tagbo in the role of Police captain Gaby Molina. Although she's best known for stand-up comedy and her participation to TF1's entertainment programme Vendredi tout est permis, this versatile Franco-Ivorian actress and humorist is no stranger to crime fiction. She played Lieutenant Martine Forest in RIS police scientifique (2006-2014), the French adaptation of RIS: Delitti imperfetti (2005-2009).

English expat Harry Fergusson, a famous author, is murdered and his death is made to look like a car accident. Capitaine Gaby Molina, her neighbour, quickly suspects foul play because of a detail. Jean Servais, her counterpart in the gendarmerie, already investigates and won't collaborate. Gaby is supposed to be busy with a ketamine trafficking case and the arrival of Lieutenant Céline Richer, her new partner. On a personal level, she moonlights as a security guard in a nightclub and sells truffles in order to keep her farm (inherited from her grandfather).

Harry just finished writing a book, whose manuscript is nowhere to be found. Molina meets Fergusson's friend, a surgeon named Édouard Perret. Céline arrests Anton Vargas, Gaby's informer. Written by crime drama expert Stéphane Kaminka (Malaterra, RIS police scientifique, Alice Nevers, etc...) and Olga Vincent (Envers et contre tous, Disparus), Le crime lui va si bien is based on an idea by producer/writer Jean-Pierre Alessandri. Stéphane Kappes, its director, is a regular helmer of France 3's hit La stagiaire and he directed four episodes of the recent Tropiques criminels for France 2.

Le crime lui va si bien will not revolutionise the genre but its 90 minutes are very pleasant. Claudia Tagbo is fabulous as a Columbo of the French countryside with a cap, a scarf and an old Volvo. The lieutenant is a major influence of France 3's ratings juggernaut Capitaine Marleau and Crimes parfaits, another success of the channel. Céline Richer is played by the excellent Hélène Seuzaret (Le pont des oubliés, Das Boot). The always great Bruno Lochet plays Anton Vargas (a tribute to Fred Vargas?)

Also with Stéphane Freiss (Noces rouges, Le secret d'Élise) as Édouard Perret, Julien Ratel (Darget), Guillaume Denaiffe (Simon Landrau), Laurent Manzoni (Gaby's boss Félix Fontan), Norbert Ferrer (Jean Servais), Kévin Rouxel (Mickael), Virgil Leclaire (Dylan Poirier), Benjamin Gomez (Guillaume, the banker), Florence Maury (Odile Griffon), Jean-François Maurier (Mr Poirier), Peter Vickers (Harry Fergusson), Franck Molinaro (Procureur Mazzolini), Ségolène Prunier (Nurse), Olivia Brunaux (Dr Vendroux), etc.

Produced by Ramona Productions and Kam&Ka with France Télévisions. Co-produced by Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge) with the participation of RTS (Télévision suisse) and TV5 Monde. Filmed with the support of Région Île-de-France. Produced by Jean-Pierre Alessandri, Olga Vincent, Samuel Kaminka and Stéphane Kaminka. Music by Xavier Berthelot (Joséphine, ange gardien). Cinematography by Stéphane Cami. Editing by Bénédicte Gellé.

Le crime lui va si bien won the Grand Prix of the French-speaking TV movie 2019 at the Cognac Polar Festival. It will premiere this Friday on France 2 and hopefully a series will follow. Claudia Tagbo currently plays Oda Mae Brown in the musical adaptation of the movie Ghost on stage at the Théâtre Mogador.

Thursday, 28 November 2019


[Favourite of the Month] A British police officer teams up with a German cop under the sun of Mallorca in this stylish and fun new drama.

Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Mediteranean sea. It's one of the favourite destinations of tourists from the U.K. and, most of all, Germany. Mallorca is even nicknamed "the 17th German federal state". The Mallorca Files is a detective drama set on the island and commissioned for BBC One's daytime, home of Father Brown and Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators.

Created by British scriptwriter Dan Sefton (The Good Karma Hospital, Trust Me), who's the showrunner and main writer, the 10 x 45-minute series is produced by Cosmopolitan Pictures and Clerkenwell Films with BBC Studios, BritBox, (France Télévisions) and Germany's ZDF Neo. This international partnership allowed a prime time budget. Honour Amongst Thieves, the fast-paced premiere episode, was penned by Dan Sefton and directed by Bryn Higgins.

Miranda Blake, an uptight Detective Constable from the London Metropolitan Police, is in Mallorca to escort gang lord Niall Taylor back to England. They are ambushed at the airport and Taylor is shot dead. DC Blake takes some days off to find out who set them up. Police Chief Ines Villegas obliges her to collaborate with Max Winter, a laid-back detective from Munich working for the German division of the Mallorca police. He drives an old BMW and procedure isn't his forte.

Niall Taylor and his gang were behind a spectacular robbery but Taylor was about to testify against his accomplices. From a golf field to a funeral, Miranda and Max try to work together. The Mallorca Files stars Welsh actress Elen Rhys (The Bastard Executioner) as Miranda Blake and Vienna-born actor Julian Looman (Pagan Peak/Der Pass) as Max Winter. Their perfect on-screen chemistry is the key element of a thoroughly devised sunny take on the unlikely sleuth duo.

Effective and funny, The Mallorca Files is a brilliant encounter between Death in Paradise (or Dempsey and Makepeace) and German crime dramas. It also reminds of Moonlighting and Hustle. Other regular cast members are María Fernández Ache (Ines), Nacho Aldeguer (Isabel) as pathologist Federico Ramis, Tábata Cerezo (Carmen Lorenzo), Denis Schmidt (Max's best friend Christian) and Carlos Olalla (The Time in Between) as Joan Lorenzo.

The talented Aidan McArdle (Maigret, Mr Selfridge) guest stars as Niall Taylor. Tanya Moodie (A Discovery of Witches, Sherlock) is fabulous as Superintendent Abbey Palmer. Denise McCormack (Stella), Tanya Reynolds (Claire), Robbie Gee (Freddie Case) and Robert Cavanah (Tony Rogan) are the other guest stars of Episode 1. Exec produced by Ben Donald, Dan Sefton and Murray Ferguson. Produced by Dominic Barlow. Michael Robins is the line producer.  

Charlie Mole (Mr Selfridge) is the composer of the excellent soundtrack. Surrender, the catchy main title song, and Time on our side, the end title, are performed by Anna Ross. Both were written by Charlie Mole. Cinematography by Jan Jonaeus. Edited by Mark Davis. Titles by Huge Designs. Filmed entirely on location in Mallorca with the help and support of the Illes Ballears Film Commission and the Mallorca Film Commission. Production services by Finca Producciones SPA and Palma Pictures.

The other writers of The Mallorca Files are Dan Muirden, Alex McBride, Rachael New and Sarah-Louise Hawkins. The other directors are Charlie Palmer, Gordon Anderson and Rob Evans. A second series has been commissioned before the start of the first on Monday 25 November. All the episodes of Series 1 are available on BBC iPlayer for U.K. viewers. The Mallorca Files will be aired in prime time in Germany and France (on France 2).

Special thanks to Chris Charlton. (Anna Ross)

See also:

Wednesday, 13 November 2019


Commissaire Magellan and Lieutenant Berrayah meet Christophe Barbier.

The bottom line: The one without the red scarf.

Created by Laurent Mondy (Les Cordier, juge et flic), Commissaire Magellan was launched on France 3 in 2009. Produced by Jean Luc Azoulay's JLA Productions with France Télévisions and set in the fictional northern town of Saignac, it stars Jacques Spiesser as Commissaire Simon Magellan. Selma Kouchy plays Lieutenant Selma Berrayah, his deputy. The other regulars are Nathalie Besançon as Magellan's companion Florence Higel (a journalist for the local paper La Sentinelle), Franz Lang as Simon's nephew Ludo and Marie de Stefano as Cordelia (the commissaire's younger daughter).

Commissaire Magellan is part of the very popular French crime drama line-up of France 3 and even crossed over twice with Mongeville, another hit of the channel (in 2016 and 2018). Written by Anton Voyl and directed by Stephan Kopecky, La nébuleuse d'Orion is the 33rd episode of the series. Grégoire Laroche, an eminent astrophysicist, is stabbed at the observatory of the Saignac University. Magellan and Selma investigate amongst his colleagues and students. Cordelia wants to invite a friend named Valentin for her 16th birthday.

The writers and the producers of Commissaire Magellan manage to keep fresh a proven formula. Jacques Spiesser is always brilliant as the debonair (and sarcastic) detective of France's answer to Midsomer Murders (1). The comic relief of this excellent episode is not provided as usual by Ludo's antics but by Cordelia's crush, who's ultra-conservative, and his completely different cousin. Press and television political columnist Christophe Barbier, known for his red scarf and his economically liberal/macronist views, appears as recteur Antoine Dutilleux.

Acting (particularly theatre) happens to be Christophe Barbier's passion. He's currently on stage in L'un de nous deux - Mandel/Blum and his portrayal of an unflattering character in La nébuleuse d'Orion is actually rather good. He previously played in two episodes of Munch for TF1. Also with Nicolas Grandhomme (Jérôme Morel), actor and scriptwriter Stephan Guérin-Tillié as Grégoire Laroche, Isabelle Renauld (Hélène Laugier), Geoffroy Thiebaut (Mathieu Laugier), Linda Hardy (Juliette Morel), Delphine Lacheteau (Diane Laugier), etc. 

Produced by Richard Berkowitz. Exec produced by Bernard Paccalet. Jean-Marie Aumont is the production manager for JLA. Elizabeth Bonnay is the production manager for France Télévisions. Music by Frédéric Porte. Cinematography by Jonny Semeco. Filmed in the Département du Nord. Commissaire Magellan is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Magellan.

(1) With touches of Les cinq dernières minutes, Navarro (another production of Jean-Luc Azoulay) or even Derrick.

See also:

Friday, 18 October 2019


Captain Marleau meets the singer.

The bottom line: Two for the show.

Quelques maux d'amour is the 17th episode of Capitaine Marleau, the ratings juggernaut produced and helmed by Josée Dayan for France 3. In spite of some automatisms, a handful of labored or recycled jokes, a ridiculous set (the gendarmerie) and many postcard shots, it brings back the crime drama to an acceptable shape after the terrible Grand Huit.

Frédéric Lanteri, the owner of a music studio, is found murdered after his daughter's wedding. Capitaine Marleau meets the closest friend of the Lanteri family: Daniel Rivière, a singer whose glory days are behind him and the idol of Marleau's youth. The sensitive performance of Kad Merad (Baron Noir) as the washed-up artist and his chemistry with Corinne Masiero/Marleau not wearing a cape (1) are the highlights of Quelques maux d'amour (the title sounds more Michel Bussi than Michel Berger).

With guest appearances of musician and TV personality André Manoukian (as Frédéric) and the French band Blankass. Yamée Couture (Charlie Lanteri) is the daughter of singer Charlélie Couture. Also starring Nathalie Boutefeu (Annie Lanteri), India Hair (Chloé), Ilian Bergala (Jérémie), Roman Kané (Bastien Lanteri), Ymanol Perset (Greg) Stéphane Boucher (Totoche), etc. Written by Alexis Miansarow and Robin Barataud (Candice Renoir) with Corinne Masiero.

Co-produced by Passionfilms and Gaspard & Co with France Télévisions and the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine. With the participation of RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. Jean-Christophe Cardineau is the production manager. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves LangloisMusic composed by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn.

Songs performed by Kad Merad. Lyrics of S'aimer, Ta mémoire and L'impossible adieu by Jean-Jacques Thibaud (Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn). Marc Eisenchteter is the story editor. Capitaine Marleau is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Captain Marleau. Series created by Elsa Marpeau. Quelques maux d'amour will premiere on France 3 on October 29.

(1) See 

Friday, 11 October 2019


Capitaine Marleau (France's favourite gendarme) investigates in a fun park. Maybe next time she'll go to the zoo or she'll visit a museum.

The bottom line: « No capes! » (Edna Mode)

Launched in 2015 on France 3, Capitaine Marleau stars Corinne Masiero as an offbeat gendarme with no first name. Produced and helmed by Josée Dayan (Les rois maudits, Les misérables, Le comte de Monte Cristo), the crime drama gradually became a ratings juggernaut and a pop culture phenomenon. Gaullic viewers know Marleau's chapka, her parka and her Range Rover Classic 1988 as much as Columbo's raincoat and his Peugeot 403. The lieutenant is an acknowledged influence of the character. In april, Capitaine Marleau hit another rating record with 7.70 million viewers (32.8%!)

The French public loves Corinne Masiero too. When she and Josée Dayan took a break from the series to shoot Quand sort la recluse, a 2X90-minute film of France 2's Collection Fred Vargas, 4.64 million viewers (20.65%) followed her for Part 1 (1). TF1 certainly hoped to cash in on the popularity of the actress with Colombine, where she starred in a very similar role except it was a nun in Africa! 5.2 million viewers (23.2%) watched this TV movie last month. Meanwhile, copycats of Capitaine Marleau regularly pop up on France 3, in Crimes parfaits or Alexandra Ehle (from Marleau's creator Elsa Marpeau).

Written by Pierre Delorme and Robin Barataud (Candice Renoir) with Corinne Masiero, Grand Huit will premiere in France on October 22. Alban Bouchard, who works in an amusement park called Spoutnik Park, is murdered in his "Spoutnik man" costume. Captain Marleau meets the owners, Lucie (Marina Hands) and Antoine Pavilla (Rapper and actor Joey Starr). The day before his death, Alban and his son Jordy had an argument. Major Boyer, of the gendarmerie, reluctantly cooperates with Marleau. 17 years ago, Lucie's father died on the roller coaster and the gendarmes ruled it a suicide. Marleau interrogates Henri, the handyman, and Lucie's brother Bertrand.

What the fans of Capitaine Marleau like most is neither the plots nor the guest stars (even Gérard Depardieu, David Suchet or Isabelle Adjani). It's when Corinne Masiero delivers Marleau's one-liners and social commentaries. With almost 8 million viewers, the series can afford everything. The star is known to ad lib, to the point that she's also credited with the writers. The title sequence of Grand Huit is almost a warning, because Corinne Masiero looks like she's freewheeling a lot in this episode only redeemed by its guest cast.

The great Bernard Alane (Magellan) plays Henri. Bernard Verley, seen in Quand sort la recluse, is Mickey. Myriam Boyer appears as Elisabeth Bouvier, the grumpy neighbour. Humorist and actor Tom Villa (Munch) does a good job as gendarme Kevin, the typical France 3 deputy (cf. Thibaud in Crimes parfaits). Also with Serge Hazanavicius (Boyer), Xavier Robic (Bertrand Ross), Sophie Verbeeck (Maeva Linetty), Vincent Roger (Alban), Benjamin Duba Paris (Jordy Bouchard), Nathalie Vignes (Pathologist), Laurie Bordesoules (Waitress), Baptiste Ballouhey (Christian Boyer) and Miki the dog (2).

Co-produced by Passionfilms and Bel Ombre Films with France Télévisions and the support of Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Département du Lot-et-Garonne. With the participation of RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). Produced by Josée Dayan and Gaspard de Chavagnac. Jean-Christophe Cardineau is the production manager. Cinematography by Stefan Ivanov. Editing by Yves Langlois. Music by Catherine Lara and Cyrille Lehn. Marc Eisenchteter is the story editor. Capitaine Marleau is available in the U.S. on VOD service MHZ Choice under the title Captain Marleau

(1)  Based on the work of bestselling author Fred Vargas. Corinne Masiero reprised her role of Violette Retancourt, a character she first played in 2009, alongside Jean-Hughes Anglade and Jacques Spiesser (Magellan).
(2) "Et pour la première fois à l'écran, le chien Miki"! 

Wednesday, 2 October 2019


[Swiss transmission order] French pubcaster France 3's detective drama Crimes parfaits is a "semi-anthology" where a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime but a detective (different in every couple of episodes) proves him/her wrong. 

It's the concept of the inverted detective story, popularized by Columbo though created in literature many years before the famous lieutenant.

The crime dramas of France 3 are a fully-fledged genre, recognizable from the postcard drone shots of their regional locations, the same actors jumping from one to another and stories sometimes so similar that you wonder if they are generated by some artificial intelligence. The channel is the happy home of Commissaire Magellan, Mongeville, Meurtres à... or ratings juggernaut Capitaine Marleau. The later is the most popular TV series in France, which certainly explains why Crimes parfaits is essentially a copycat factory of the gendarme played by Corinne Masiero.

One of Marleau's relatives is Police captain Louise Bonne ("Comme la poire"), played by actress and humorist Julie Ferrier. Introduced a year ago, she returns with her deputy and protégé Fatou (Wendy Nieto) in À la vie, à la mort and Trop beau pour être vraiJuliette Petiot (Louise's teenage daughter Zoé) and Sophie de la Rochefoucauld, very funny as the ill-named pathologist Gracieuse, are back too. Humorist (another one!) and actor Mathieu Madénian joins the main cast as Grégoire, a sympathetic procureur.

The two episodes, penned by Marie-Anne Le Pezennec and helmed by Nicolas Herdt, try to show a bit of ambition within the limits of both the series format and the labored humour of the main character. Arié Elmaleh guest stars as Bruno Aubert, the murderer of À la vie, à la mort. Bruno is the director of a funeral home founded by his father. He gets rid of Alex, his best friend, who's also the godfather of his daughter. The man ends up embalmed! Capitaine Bonne and Fatou investigate. The feud between Louise and her husband escalates

Arié Elmaleh does an impressive rendition of the closest thing to a France 3 version of Dexter Morgan (Dexter) at the beginning of the episode. Also starring Joyce Bibring (Marine), Louisiane Gouverneur (Annabelle), Yann Pradal (Alex), Virginia Anderson (Cécilia), Antoine Cholet (Romain), Serge Feuillard (Gérard) and Simon Thomas (Joël). Sylvain Damal, the victim of Trop beau pour être vrai, is described by his colleagues, friends and neighbours as a sort of saint and even a hero. The wife of this director of a fish trading company and two of his employees beg to differ.

They plot his murder and make it look like a drowning caused by jellyfishes. One of the guest stars is the talented Christelle Reboul as Violette, a role far away from Amélie in Nos chers voisins (2012-2017). Since Capitaine Marleau, it seems that a lot of crime dramas of France 3 have their dedicated teams of gagmen. Also with Armelle Deutsch (Hélène), Jérôme Robart (Lucas), Christophe Favre (Marcel), Jérémy Gillet (Hugo), François Briault (Sylvain) and Vincent Bercholz (Mayor). Developed with Toma de Matteis. Produced by Caroline Lassa for Salsa Productions.

Co-produced by France.tvstudio and France Télévisions with Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge). With the participation of RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Music by Maïdi Roth and Franck Pilant. Additional music by Flemming Nordkrog. Theme music of Crimes parfaits by Jean-Pierre Taïeb. Filmed with the support of Département de la Charente-Maritime.

Not yet shown by France 3. 
[Update - October 2, 2020] Crimes parfaits will be available at the end of this month in the United States on the SVOD service MHZ Choice as Perfect Murders.

See also: (Capitaine Agnès Bertaud)