Television

has the dam broken open? also, a French TV show.

It's been a long strange winter, and I want to share all about it. But in no particular order. I might write 16 posts or 3 very long ones or change my mind and keep writing with pen and paper to no audience. But here's something.

I found this show on Acorn TV called Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie, and watched the first episode last night, "Les Meurtres ABC." The first eleven episodes of the show are set in the 1930s and star Antoine Duléry and Marius Colucci. Here's the Google translation of the Wikipedia.fr page: "The main characters are the Commissioner Jean Larosière, fifties seducer, poet and Epicurean and Deputy Inspector Émile Lantern, thirty, shy, bumbling and awkward, but very endearing."

Acorn TV has six of their eleven episodes available, and one from the newer series which began last year, is set in the 1950s, and stars "A new born duo: Blandine Bellavoir in the role of Alice Avril, a journalist Voix du Nord (that's a newspaper in Northern France where the series is set) and Samuel Labarthe in the role of Commissioner Laurence Swan."

Knowing that, I have mixed feelings. I wonder why they were released this way, instead of in two full sets with the second including the replacement cast, and carrying on from there.

Anyway, I didn't look too deeply into it, but apparently Duléry said it was time to move on while things were still swell, which is what they always say, and fan reaction was exactly the same as everywhere else, from the emotional "Oh, no, it will be terrible now!" to the pedantic "I have faith in the writers' creativity and will continue to watch."

I know what I'd have thought. "Oh. Labarthe isn't nearly as…well, maybe. We'll see."

So the show is very good. The production values are rich and thoughtful and thoroughly satisfying. I saw a couple of English language reviews stating "This isn't the real thing, sniff." Well, in a sense, it's more real than the adaptations we've seen lately, to be honest. I think Agatha Christie would be rather more pleased with these interpretations of her stories than she would be with, for example, the bizarre 2008 Murder is Easy, even if Benedict Cumberbatch was a somewhat inspired choice for retired policeman Luke Fitzwilliam. I'm not saying it's terrible. But a purist would hate it.

The ending of "Les Meurtres ABC" struck me as a bit too entangled and even more improbable than the original ABC Murders ending, until I thought it over. I believe the subtitle translation influenced my view of it, and so now I also believe the writers actually made a little more sense of it, rather than less.  And I think Christie'd have preferred the somewhat gratuitous (but not actually! it was a power grab! and kind of hot...) love scene between the deputy inspector and the substitute commissioner, to the perpetual BBC notion that every single unmarried woman of a certain age in her stories was a lesbian.

I wish I could just watch without subtitles, but there's too much I'd miss. You have to immerse yourself in a spoken world in order to pick up the speed and rhythm of speech, and I've never had that opportunity. I think possibly I read French well enough that I could follow closed captioning instead of subtitles, with a certain amount of pausing, but that isn't available.

Here, for my Twitter/Tumblr friends who have not seen it, a talk show segment with Antoine Duléry and Jean Dujardin.