Tuesday, 19 March 2019

ASTRID ET RAPHAËLLE (FRANCE 2)

An unlikely very conventional pair of sleuths investigates a series of suspicious deaths. Most regrettably, it's not the only series they might get.

The bottom line: The Good Detective.

Created and written by Alexandre de Seguins & Laurent Burtin, Astrid et Raphaëlle is a 90-minute crime drama pilot directed by Elsa Bennett & Hippolyte Dard. Made by JLA (Alexandra Ehle, Commissaire Magellan) for French pubcaster France 2, it's an umpteenth take on the duo between a cop and a genius but troubled consultant. This one stars Sara Mortensen (Plus belle la vie) and Lola Dewaere (La vengeance aux yeux clairs, Le tueur du lac).

A doctor withdraws 8000 euros before setting himself on fire on an above-ground car park. Police commander Raphaëlle Coste (Lola Dewaere), a divorced mother whose career is in jeopardy because of a member of the European Parliament, is in charge of the investigation. While searching files on other strange suicides, Raphaëlle meets Astrid Nielsen (Sara Mortensen), an employee of the Service de la Documentation Criminelle with  an encyclopedic knowledge of all the cases archived and an impressive expertise in criminalistics. She doesn't know that Astrid is in fact autistic.

From 2009 to 2016, commercial broadcaster TF1 was the home of neurotic criminal psychologist Chloé Saint-Laurent, played by Odile Vuillemin in Profilage (still in production). In 2016, the channel tried to adapt Professor T. (2015-2018), a Flemish series centered on a brilliant but dysfunctional professor in criminal psychology and police consultant who fears dirt (similarly to Monk) and proximity with people. Elsa Marpeau, creator of the megahit Capitaine Marleau for France 3, was behind this adaptation called Prof T. It didn't prevent the only six episodes to gather dust on the TF1's shelves before surfacing two years later (in February 2018).

Most Gaullic viewers probably forgot Professor Julien Tardieu. Anyway, they can always watch regular repeats of Monk. In France 2's L'Art du crime, launched in 2017, a cop works with an art historian who could be a distant cousin of Chloé Saint-Laurent or the French niece of Professor Jasper Teerlinck. This time France Télévisions goes one step further with Astrid et Raphaëlle. This pilot, done with a pinch of Candice Renoir and (of course) a zest of Professor T., is basically the pubcaster's answer to one of the most recent hits of TF1: The Good Doctor, the American drama (1) about a young autistic surgeon.

The autistic characters of  Astrid et Raphaëlle don't practice surgery, they solve crimes and hack computers. When it comes to French detective/mystery/crime dramas, the lack of originality and the excess of clichés often pay. Look at those copycats of Capitaine Marleau on its own channel, France 3. Oddly, Astrid et Raphaëlle is packed with references to... Jurassic Park! Benoît Michel co-stars as Nicolas Perran. Also with Daniel Njo Lobé (Commissaire Carl Bachert), Geoffroy Thiebaut (Alain Gaillard), Julien Prévost (Jef Martino), Linda Massoz (Policière), etc. 

Produced by JLA Productions Jean-Luc Azoulay and France Télévisions. Co-produced with Be-Films and RTBF (Télévision belge). Filmed with the participation of  RTS Radio Télévision Suisse. Bernard Paccalet exec produces. Produced by Jean-Sébastien Bouilloux. Music composed by Erwann Kermorvant. Additional music by Laurent Courbier. Cinematography by Jérôme Alméras. France 2 will show Astrid et Raphaëlle on April 12.

(1) Based on a South-Korean drama.

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