Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Joséphine the guardian angel is in the American West in 1861 to help a young woman named Rose Clifton.

Created by Laurent Chouchan with Michel Lengliney & Philippe Niang, comedy/drama Joséphine, ange gardien started on TF1 in 1997. It's the oldest active series of the channel, since Une famille formidable (1992) ended last december. Comedian, actress and UNICEF ambassador 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 two years ago. In 2018, Joséphine and the characters of TF1's comedy hit Camping paradis met in their respective series. L'incroyable destin de Rose Clifton was co-written by actress Aurélie Bargème (who also guest stars) with Virginie Parietti and Marie-Anne Le Pezennec. This 92nd Joséphine, whose working title was Le bon, la brute et l'ange gardien (1), is directed by Joséphine, ange gardien and Camping paradis frequent helmer Stephan Kopecky.

Golden River Town, 1861. Rose Clifton mourns the death of her husband Jack, the owner of the local saloon, who hung himself. Her daughter Lucy must marry Ben Evans, son of her friend Harriet Evans (the mercantile proprietor) and acting sheriff. Rose is in debt and she's the focus of the unsolicited attention of slimy banker Ulysse Van Hoster, brother of the influential Lauren Van Hoster. With the help of Joséphine, Rose decides to reopen her husband's saloon. Gun-for-hire Terence Wyatt and his travelling companion Yuma, an Indian, arrive in town. The money of the saloon's opening night is stolen.

Guest starring Charlie Nune (Instinct) as Rose, Alexandre Varga (Cassandre) as Wyatt, Geoffroy Thiebaut (Braquo) as Ulysse, Delphine Lacheteau (Lucy Clifton), Jonathan Cardonnel (Ben Evans), Aurélie Bargème (Harriet), Gabrielle Forest (Lauren), Willy Cartier (Yuma), Éléna Lemercier (Amy), Valentin Girma (R.T. Bishop), Arsène Jiroyan (Priest) and Juan Verdu (The Mexican). L'incroyable destin de Rose Clifton was filmed in Fort Bravo/Texas Hollywood, a Western theme park and movie set near the town of Tabernas, in the spanish province of Almeria. A lot of Spaghetti Westerns were shot there, as well as German comedy Der Schuh des Manitu (2001) and a 2012 episode of Doctor Who.

Filming in Almeria became an industry in its own right in the wake of director Sergio Leone's interest for the region in the 1960s. Though there's an amusing Clint Eastwood reference, L'incroyable destin de Rose Clifton doesn't try to be For a Few Dollars More nor Back to the Future Part III. It's a typical Joséphine, ange gardien with a pleasant change of scenery. Everybody involved look like they had a great time with this re-creation of the atmosphere of decades of movie and TV westerns. Particularly the director (who appears as Rodgers), Mimie Mathy, Geoffroy Thiebaut and Alexandre Varga. Joséphine drastically changes the sermon of a priest, drinks an expresso and even plays detective (Hec Ramsey?) (2)

L'incroyable destin de Rose Clifton is partly dedicated to Jean Giraud, the co-creator of Blueberry. Produced by Sébastien Pavard and Laure de Kervasdoué. Didier Langlade and Tedy Villalba exec produce. Music composed by Xavier Berthelot, Roland Romanelli & Didier Vasseur. Amy's Song performed by Mimie Mathy and Éléna Lemercier. Lyrics by Stephan Kopecky. Music by Stephan Kopecky and Xavier Berthelot. Cinematography by Jonny Semeco. Produced with the participation of RTBF (Télévision belge) and RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Spanish executive production by Boris Droulers for Multipark Ficción.

(1) "The Good, the Bad and the Guardian Angel".
(2) Hec Ramsey (1972-1974) was a western/mystery TV series starring Richard Boone as a lawman with "modern" investigative methods. (In French) (In French)

See also:

Friday, 22 February 2019


In Crimes parfaits, a murderer known from the start thinks he/she has committed the perfect crime until 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.

French pubcaster France 3's detective "semi-anthology" Crimes parfaits continues with the return of a familiar captain... No, not that one.

France 3 is the home of Capitaine Marleau, the megahit created by Elsa Marpeau and starring Corinne Masiero as an offbeat, sharp-minded and quick-witted sleuth without a first name but with a chapka and a parka. Columbo is one of the acknowledged influences of the character. Coincidentally (or not), some cousins to the eccentric female sleuth regularly pop up on the channel. Julie Depardieu stars as a free-spirited and whimsical pathologist in Alexandra Ehle, a series written by its creator... Elsa Marpeau. Before that, Crimes parfaits was launched in 2017 with a couple of episodes starring Isabelle Gélinas as Agnès (no last name), an unconventional police captain dressed like Janis Joplin.

Agnès hates the GPS, cell phones, as well as high tech. She shares her life between two sympathetic men (perfectly aware of the situation). In October 2018, Crimes parfaits introduced viewers to Marleau's newest relative: Police captain Louise Bonne, played by actress and humorist Julie Ferrier. Now Isabelle Gélinas returns as Capitaine Agnès in two episodes penned by Didier Le Pêcheur & Delphine Labouret and directed by Philippe Bérenger (Nicolas Le Floch). Arthur Mazet is back as Thibaud, Agnès's uptight and by-the-book sidekick. Thomas Walch (Max, the pathologist), Franck Adrien (Philippe) and Laurent Fernandez (Micha) are there too.

Christine Citti, an actress well known to French crime drama fans (Les enquêtes d'Éloïse Rome, P.J.), guest stars as Sylvaine Dumont in C'est la taille qui compte. Back from Paris, Sylvaine discovers that her husband has committed suicide. She decides to make it look like a murder in order to frame Lucie Perrin (Lola Dewaere), their neighbour and his mistress. Poor Thibaud must find his boss on a nude beach. He conducts the investigation with her blessing and soon Lucie is under arrest. The presence of Christine Citti turns out to be a missed opportunity. The comedy situations are contrived and the ending epitomizes the pointlessness of this episode. Also with Sophia Johnson (Bleue).

Patrick Catalifo channels the best Columbo murderers in Un meurtre peut en cacher un autre. Damien Perrot, a banker who launders money for a mobster from Ex-Yugoslavia, brutally kills a man with an other death in mind. The episode contains a few bad dialogues and an impressive amount of social comments for 55 minutes. Also with Diane Robert (Géraldine Hugon), Franck Libert (Lucas Hugon), Patrick Albenque (Stazicic), Sophia Johnson (Bleue), Yves Borrini (ORPJ boss), etc. Co-produced by Éléphant Story and France Télévisions, with AT-Production and R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). With the participation of RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) and TV5 Monde. Produced by Guillaume Renouil, who exec produces with Gaëlle Cholet. Music by Jean-Pierre Taïeb 

Monday, 11 February 2019


France 3's police station welcomes a new sleuth and it's Stéphane Bern.

The crime dramas of France 3 are a fully-fledged genre, recognizable from the regional locations, postcard drone shots and even actors jumping from one to another. The pubcaster's long string of hits includes series like the ratings juggernaut Capitaine Marleau, Mongeville, Commissaire Magellan or Cassandre. But also collections like Crimes parfaitsCrime à and Meurtres à.... Launched in 2013 and set in a different town/region each time, Meurtres à... is the gaullic answer to Germany's Tatort.

One of its distinctive features is the occasional casting of a "non-actor" personality from the France Télévisions group in one of the main roles. After Michel Cymes and Claire Chazal, it's the turn of Stéphane Bern. Television presenter, radio host and journalist, Bern is famous in France for his encyclopedic knowledge of nobility and royal families, his passion for History and his involvement in heritage preservation. His programme Secrets d'Histoire is a favourite of France 2's viewers. He appeared in a handful of films and a few TV series or movies, mostly as himself. Except that the bar is higher this time: in Meurtres en Lorraine, Stéphane Bern stars as Lieutenant Nicolas Muller of the Gendarmerie.

A corpse wrapped in paragliding cloth is discovered inside the Citadel of Bitche, in the north-east of France. Lieutenant Muller investigates with his deputy, Adjudant Patrick Joly, and a newly arrived trainee, Gendarme stagiaire Lola Paoli. Muller is intrigued by a crystal chess piece found near the body. He goes with Lola, who happens to be the daughter of pathologist Patricia Paoli, to the Cristallerie Muller in order to get information. This crystal factory belongs to his father Hervé, whom he's not in good terms, and is managed by his younger sister Florence. The latest case of Nicolas quickly becomes very personal.

The announcement that Stéphane Bern would play the lead role in a Meurtres à... raised astonishment if not perplexity, given a public image often confused with his puppet in Les Guignols de l'info (the  now defunct French equivalent of Spitting Image). Though some scenes are a tad ambitious for someone who's not an actor, the performance of Bern is rather honourable. His presence is obliously the focus of the attention of both viewers and critics in an otherwise generic drama from France 3 with all the required clichés. At least Stéphane Bern, the legendary Féodor Atkine as Hervé Muller and a decent cast make it more watchable than the irritating Alexandra Ehle (on the same channel).

Also starring Lilly Fleur-Pointeaux (Lola), Joffrey Platel (Patrick Joly), Catherine Demaiffe (Florence Muller), Francis Renaud (Jean-Paul Dubois), Marie Matheron (Patricia Paoli), Céline Jorrion (Camille Dubois), Hervé Sogne (Pascal Dubois), Yannig Samot (Marc Saint-Léger), Rafaël Rajabian (Jérémy), Manuel Gélin, etc. Written by Killian Denis and Nicolas Jones-Gorlin. Directed by René Manzor (Highlander: The Series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles). Produced by Morgane Production. Co-produced by AT-production with R.T.B.F. (Télévision belge). With the participation of France Télévisions, TV5 Monde, RTS Radio Télévision Suisse and 13ème Rue.

Exec produced by Gilles Daniel. Produced by Gérard Pont, Gérard Lacroix and Sylvain Plantard. Arnauld de Battice and Caroline de Borchgrave are the associate producers. Filmed with the support of Région Grand-Est, la Ville de Nancy and Métropole du Grand Nancy. Music by Christophe La Pinta. Editing by Renaud Ziegler. Cinematography by Manuel Teran. Distributed by Film & Picture TV distribution. Belgian channel La Une aired Meurtres en Lorraine last month. (In English)