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EDITOR’S NOTE: We happily discovered Dr. Pearl Brandwein while reviewing MHz Choice subscriber feedback on our programs and, after reading a half dozen or so of Dr. Brandwein’s insightful reviews, all of us here at MHz Choice had the same thought: We need to get the good doctor to write for us! Enjoy! -MHz Choice


Premiering January 25, 2022 on MHz Choice!

Capitaine Marleau makes an auspicious return after a long absence due to the pandemic. Filming season 3 during COVID permitted the intrusion of reality onto the set and into every script to which Corinne Masiero contributed significantly. Marleau’s departure from quirky and self-deprecating behavior in the first two seasons to a more serious and restrained Capitaine may be a change welcomed by many fans. However, some fans may prefer the boisterous, obnoxious clown whom many have come to know and to love. The stage is already set in the final episode of season 2 when Marleau, having always known that she was adopted, meets her identical twin sister on a slab in the morgue. In order to solve the murder, Marleau takes her twin sister’s place at home and at work discovering many details about both along the way and finding a new family in the process.



This new and improved Marleau is symbolic of the Zeitgeist: she is more nuanced, more thoughtful and low-key. The new murder mysteries have more intricately-woven plot lines populated by very colorful, elusive and multi-layered characters. They possess the color that Marleau used to have. Her character steps out from behind the clown’s mask to reveal the efficient and capable police detective – enabling her to wear down the usual suspects including the obviously guilty with thinly-veiled alibis and the obviously innocent with heavily-veiled motives. There is a triangle in every episode which serves as a literary framing device to highlight the motives of the primary suspects while leading to derailment; red herrings; slippery slopes; and buried treasure. The cast of characters keeps the viewers in suspense until the final few minutes.

As I watched the third season, I asked myself, ‘Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Is Marleau a Vera wannabe?’ Capitaine Mar”l”eau was created by Elsa Mar”p”eau; whereas, DCI Vera Stanhope (first broadcast in 2011 by ITV) was created by Ann Cleeves based on her books. Seemingly different, they share similarities.

Marleau like her British counterpart wears horribly mismatched clothes and hats (hunter’s cap for Vera; Russian chapka for Marleau) and calls everyone “poule” just as Vera calls everyone “pet.” One gets the impression that both share the same Range Rover which they drive around lush scenic backdrops.

Corinne Masiero as Captain Marleau

Marleau jogs, swims, bicycles and skis while Vera’s only form of exercise is picking up the fries from her plate and putting them into her mouth. Both detectives solve every murder. Vera, the tough, shrewd, cynical, no-nonsense pro with a heart of gold never allows it to cloud her judgment underscoring a determined instinct to tease out the truth — sometimes by threats, sometimes by a feigned kindness; whereas, Marleau, the highly-intelligent, clever, insightful and adept detective prefers to ensnare and to cajole suspects while providing a deceptively calm or clownish atmosphere while eliciting information from them.

Most enjoyable are the show’s clever cultural and pop references including Matthew Barney, Cerebrus, Stanislavsky, Fantomas, Marcel Cerdan, Adamo, Manon des Sources, Django, Zizi Jeanmaire, Babar, Gypsy Kings and many others too numerous to mention. Seasons 1 and 2 boast an international roster of guests including Gerard Depardieu, Bulle Ogier, Irene Jacob, Victoria Abril, Pierre Arditi, David Suchet, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Sandrine Bonnaire, Nicole Garcia and Isabelle Adjani as well as the offspring of famous actors including Catherine Allegret (Simone Signoret), Julie Depardieu (G. Depardieu) and Alain-Fabien Delon (Alain Delon). Season 3 continues the tradition with Christophe Lambert, Virginie Ledoyen, Sylvie Testud, Beatrice Dalle and Mylene Demongeot.

I liked Capitaine Marleau before, but I like her even more now. We all have to grow up sooner or later. Marleau’s metamorphosis from self-mockery to self-enlightenment is a welcome retreat for her fans. Whether she remains as she is, only time and her newly-found koan will tell—but one thing is certain—she will always solve the case.

NOTA BENE: Special mention must be given to Co-Executive Producer Josee Dayan, whose light touch as a Director for all three seasons gave the show continuity and even pacing while striking the right balance and mood during a challenging shoot.


About the author:
A lover of Romance languages and cultures, Dr. Pearl Brandwein has a Certificate in French Culture and Civilization from the Sorbonne. She then earned both her Masters’ degree in French Language/Literature and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University. Dr. Brandwein’s areas of academic expertise include the Renaissance and the Faust Figure in European Literature in addition to 19th and 20th Century Drama. Her other interests include writing about Holocaust Literature.

Dr. Brandwein began her teaching career at Princeton University followed by faculty positions at other academic institutions. In addition to French, she has also taught German, Latin, English Composition and ESL to corporate executives. After academia, she held numerous positions in the public and private sectors working as an Editor/Instructor/Administrator and as a PR professional and business communications executive directing editorial and marketing initiatives for EU clients.

She is a cineaste and a lover of Film Noir, Westerns and foreign films as well as a theatre and opera buff; she also attends concerts, lectures, ballet performances, museum and gallery exhibitions. In her rare spare time, she reads voraciously.

 

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