French TV series Under Law and Grace will premiere May 30, 2023 in the U.S. and Canada on MHz Choice.

under law and grace first look pic 1
Mathieu Spinosi and Sabrina Ouzani in Under Law and Grace

Premiering May 30, 2023

Under Law And Grace (Priere D’enqueter)* is a French TV series that is part police-drama, part Bildungsroman, and part passion-play.

Co-creators/writers Marie Deshaires and Catherine Touzet along with writer Josselyn Bossennec, director Laurence Katrian, and producers Aurelien Larger, Simon Trouillet and Harold Valentin have created an homage to Chesterton’s fictional Father Brown and his religious offspring including Don Matteo and others.

Cistercian** monk Clement Desmoulins (Mathieu Spinosi) helps Capitaine Elli Taleb (Sabrina Ouzani) and Lieutenant Franck Gallois (Jerome Robart, star of Nicolas Le Floch, Murder In . . ., A French Village) navigate the mysteries of Cistercian dogma and monastic life since she is the non-believing daughter of atheist parents (Muslim father and Jewish mother) who are dead. Clement, a White Monk who wears a ‘white Cowl’ (robe), knows nothing of the world outside the monastery except for his eclectic assortment of books, movies (“The Usual Suspects,” “The Kid,” “The Departed”) and correspondence courses in theology, law and psychology. His vast knowledge — imbibed from secular books — along with his profound erudition and literacy in Church Doctrine and religious teachings enable him to aid Capt. Taleb and Lt. Gallois in their investigations.

Just as the sacred and profane define the contours of morality, each episode is a visual representation of two or more of the Seven Deadly Sins where religious, criminal and psychological tropes are explored and exposed with refreshingly insightful discernment and perspicacity. Each episode’s religious theme or spiritual crisis sets Church Dogma at odds with Secular Humanism as variations of ‘sin’ based upon the Ten Commandments, provide exemplorum gratia via sharply delineated criminals and their crimes, motives, and intentions.

Capt. Elli Taleb’s hectic private life revolves around raising her three younger sisters. She resists the help of novitiate Brother Clement in both her investigations and in her private life — at first. This oddest of odd couples complement each other as they learn to trust and to value the sensitivity and information each possesses. Before taking his final vows, Clement studies psychology and criminology at the university. While pursuing his degree, he also tries to discover his origins and family background. Capt. Taleb and Lt. Gallois meet him again while investigating a crime near his school. The multi-verse story arc for each episode is firmly enshrined in the spiritual realm (monastery, church) or in the outer world (pilgrimage, religious camp, etc.). The literary archetypes and stylistic devices of the Bildungsroman provide a framework for the crimes as prime examples of learning, maturation and growth especially for Clement, who as the Candide-like naïf finds adventure, mystery, delight and visual stimuli on his journey of self-discovery while guided and befriended by the Taleb sisters, whose sensibilities are -– in turn – illuminated and focused by Clement’s brotherly advice.


*This show won the 2021 Polar Award (equivalent to U.S. EMMY) for Best French-language Drama series, and Laurence Katrian won the Polar Award for Best Director. The Awards are presented in Cognac (Oct.) and in Paris (Feb. or March). (Capitaine Marleau, Alexandra Ehle and Tandem won Polar Awards for Best French-language Comedy series.)

**The Cistercian Catholic order of monks and nuns follows the literal observance of Bernard of Clairvaux – “pax, ora et labora” — and the Rule of Saint Benedict (73 chapters) even though the Cistercians broke off from the Benedictines. Known as the White Monks, the Cistercians, founded in 1098 in France, follow a rigid monastic life of austerity and manual labor — especially farm work. Known for Cistercian architecture (Citeaux Abbey) and agricultural innovations as well as the use of hydraulic engineering in vineyards and in brewing ales, these fruits of their labors provide a major source of income. Throughout the centuries, education and scholarship began to dominate monastic life as reforms took hold.

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

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