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Oh, Captain, my Captain! So good to see you!

How do we love you? Let us count the ways…

(the pigtails, the hat, the allusions, the preference for beer, the singing, the breezy manner…)

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Captain Marleau (Corinne Masiero) interrogates a witness

Apologies to Walt and Will, but it’s pure joy to see a new season of Captain Marleau. There’s something so magical about the convergence of Elsa Marpeau’s character with Corinne Masiero’s depiction plus Josée Dayan’s direction. Home run, ladies. Lightning in a bottle.

It’s easy to see why the series has taken off in countries outside France – in her largeness of spirit, her eccentricity and confidence, Captain Marleau transcends culture. Something resonates about her to this American viewer… and I think it’s her freedom. Freedom to say whatever comes into her head, freedom to be childlike, freedom to not conform to the norms of being a cop, or of being female. She’s actually an old, old character – the Wise Fool, the clown who ‘gets it’ before anyone else and also gets away with saying what people do not allow themselves to utter. That’s why Wise Fools are so fun – they look like idiots, but they’re not – and they walk in total freedom from social constraint.

But in her freedom, Marleau shows respect to others – the only people she gets snippy with are either full of themselves or lying to her. That gives a wonderful humanity to the series. Beneath Marleau’s wisecracks and cavalier manner lurks an ocean of empathy for the damaged people she encounters, and for the culprits she inevitably corners. Even while she’s cornering them, it’s often peaceful and conversational.

Captain Marleau is also beautifully paced and easy on the eyes, thanks to Josée Dayan’s direction and her director of photography, Stefan Ivanov. Together they’ve made a valentine to the gorgeous countryside of France.

So, kudos to Elsa Marpeau and the writers, director Josée Dayan and actress Corinne Masiero for such a blast of life and humor. This summer of 2020, nothing makes me happier than seeing the dear Captain stride onto the crime scene with her Holden Caulfield hunter’s cap, tweaking her underlings, upsetting convention, singing songs and methodically finding the culprit.

Dear Captain: love ya. You do Columbo proud.

Haven't I seen Corinne Masiero before?

In case you think you’ve seen Masiero before, you have – in Churchmen Season 2 as the new age healer, Zivka, who falls in love with Father Bosco… and in Spiral Season 3… and in “The Moving Finger” episode of The Little Murders of Agatha Christie.

So like Captain Marleau at the spa, come on in, the water’s fine! See what so captured the hearts of the French television audience.

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