Monday 15 January 2024

TV review: Marseille, s 1 & 2, Netflix (2016-18)

Oh boy am I glad the French hated this wonderful show, it crackles with insight and relevance and their detesting it gives me more opportunity to say “Screw you” (see end of post). I was a bit troubled by Julia Taro’s (Stephane Caillard) mental illness but in hindsight I could see how this slightly excessive dramatic ruse was important to underscoring the horror of criminal violence. Rarely has such an important segment of TV been aired in recent years. PTSD is a horrific debility but Caillard does a good job with a good script (as well as some corny cinematography) to convey elements of that horror.

Gerard Depardieu is brilliant as Robert Taro, and I fart in the general direction of detractors who summon up the shades of his recent legal problems. I honestly sit in the camp of people who are only focused on the artistic when it comes to allocating wreaths for artistic merit. If it turns out that Depardieu is indeed guilty of what’s been accused, I’ll openly admit my detestation of that fact, but he’ll still be a good actor.

As usual with TV crime dramas there’s a good deal of parroting standard lines in ‘Marseilles’ but this is universal for the genre. It has to be noted that this show had such a big effect across the border that the Germans made a knock off in the form of ‘Dogs of Berlin’ (which is reviewed here). When I reviewed the German show in November last year I had no idea ‘Marseilles’ was a precursor as nobody else seemed to make a note of the fact, but the combination of police procedural, politics, the far right, and soccer (what the Europeans innocently call “football”) links the two shows at the belly like Siamese twins. They are two sides of the same soccer ball, and one can’t be ignored without damaging the reputation of the other, just as you can't play soccer with half a ball.

In other words, see them both and enjoy. The German show is more about the cops and the French show is more about the politicians, and perhaps that’s essential to the identities of the two close neighbours. In fact they border each other over long-contested ground, so perhaps the makers of the German show felt obliged, in order to continue to paper over old sores, to pay homage to the French. I’m glad they did because ‘Dogs of War’ is great, with the same attention to ethnic minorities in the drugs business that powers ‘Marseilles’ to its rather clumsier conclusion.

I was sad to learn before finishing ‘Marseilles’ that a third season won’t be made. And screw the French if they didn’t like Dan Franck’s creation. Vive le Dan!

No comments: