The Top-Flop series of the Figaro week

REVIEW – The adventures of not very talented spies, an esoteric saga or an investigation into the Scandinavian depths… what series to devour this week, or not, on your screens.


Slow Horsesseason 2, six episodes on Apple TV+

The spies in this series may be Intelligence Nickel Feet under the thumbs of a grumbling, fat boss, played by Gary Oldman. But their adventures remain a pleasure to watch. Taking place today, the soap opera Slow Horses, adapted from the first volume of the successful British spy saga Mick Herron, Slough House Series, nevertheless exalts a vintage elegance reminiscent of the cozy atmosphere and dark humor of the intrigues by John Le Carre. After facing the dangers of the British extreme right, Lamb’s service reopens, in these six new episodes, the Pandora’s box of the Cold War. A former Berlin colleague of Lamb is found dead on a bus in London. The only clue? A mysterious text mentioning “cicadas”, the code name for Russian sleeper cells. Here are Lamb’s flock cleared to the field. In the countryside of the Cotswolds as in clandestine drunken evenings with mafiosos from the East, danger lurks. The talent and irony of Slow Horses also make the English countryside as anxiety-provoking as a seedy London alley. Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas, his superior, still behave like cats and dogs. Playing Lamb’s protege River Cartwright, comedian Jack Lowden has his stunt baptism by fire. “This season finally sees him in action and digs a little deeper into his private life and where he comes from. For River, this means facing the past of his grandfather, an intelligence figure”, warns the actor, delighted to play a hero “loyal but easily manipulated” and to present “Her Majesty’s very special agents under a human and fallible day. Before concluding: “They are much more in front of a computer than in infiltration.”


His Dark Materials: at the crossroads of worldsseason 3, Tuesday, December 6 at 9 p.m. on OCS City

As is often the case in fantasy series, each season has its own increased dose of darkness. The adaptation by the BBC and HBO of the esoteric saga of the novelist Philip Pullman does not cut it: epic scenes and impressive special effects. Lord Asriel (furious James McAvoy, here hair look-alike of Jon Snow) is determined to engage in military hostilities against the religious authority of the Magisterium. His daughter and heroine Lyra (Dafne Keen), to whom the identity of her parents has been revealed, is in the hands of her mother and adversary Mrs. Coultier. But entering and returning to the realm of the dead is a risky adventure. Attempting to free itself from the original text, the series inflates the role of Asriel and chooses to delve into his mythology. It’s not always easy to follow. Especially when Lyra seems to become the reincarnation of the sinful Eve of the Bible. There remains the undeniable enthusiasm of Dafne Keen. And the unfailing duo she forms with Amir Wilson, the loyal Will.


The Kim Wall Affair, Monday December 5 at 11:05 p.m. on France 2

Denmark, August 2017. A Swedish journalist, Kim Wall, boards a homemade submarine to portray its whimsical designer, Peter Madsen. The submersible sinks at night. Its owner reappears alive. The young woman has disappeared. The head of the criminal police is convinced that it is a murder… We remember this news item which made the front page of all the newspapers around the world, and its dramatic conclusion. Less of the investigation itself, long, methodical, carried out by the police in order to find the cause of death and then to prove the guilt of the number one suspect. In six episodes, the series, created by the Danish Tobias Lindholm, screenwriter and director of the excellent political fiction Borgen, retraces the work of the policeman (Soren Malling) and his team, supported by the prosecutor (Pilou Asbaek – Game of Thrones ), two defectors also from Borgen. The Kim Wall Affair takes the side of not showing the crime, neither the victim nor the executioner, while revealing, over the episodes, their personality, as well as that of the investigator. Danish television, at the origin of one of the first successful Scandinavian thrillers with The Killing, proves that it has lost nothing of its effectiveness in this area.


The First Ladyten episodes, on Paramount+

Gillian Anderson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Viola Davis… Of all the series arriving in France with this new platform, this biopic undoubtedly has the most prestigious cast. These stars respectively embody the American first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Michelle Obama. Giving itself the goal of exploring American power through the wives of the tenant of the White House, the series multiplies the temporal round trips between the 1920s, 1970s and 2010s. This cross-portrait gives birth to an artificial compilation and a somewhat dull that does not even lead to a chronicle of the status of women. How to find themes that unite, episode after episode, these three protagonists who each deserved their own series? In particular the haughty Eleanor Roosevelt, whose social conscience and female friendships still spark debate today. Ditto for the courageous Betty Ford who hid nothing of her battle against breast cancer, nor of her addictions. With the exception of Viola Davis who portrays a personality still in the spotlight and who never manages to make it forget, the actresses are disturbingly mimicry. Chisel accent and diction. Michelle Pfeiffer gives her model a real vulnerability. Which is also the least known of the trio. Nevertheless The First Lady cares more casually for their spouses, puppets in the hands of misogynistic advisers. Kiefer Sutherland as Franklin Roosevelt, weakened by poliomyelitis, and OT Fagbenle as technocratic Barack Obama are entangled in the throes of a pale imitation.


open-heart investigationseason 1, six episodes, Thursday December 8, at 9:10 p.m. on TF1

Narrowly saved by a heart transplant, Florence (Claire Keim) embarks (heartlessly) on an inextinguishable quest for self, meaning and the other. She wonders about her donor, who died accidentally, her relationship to filiation, motherhood, love and the world. So many existential questions that cause upheaval and whose first collateral victims are her husband, Vincent (Pierre-François Martin-Laval, alias Pef), and her adopted daughter, Zoé (Jessyrielle Massengo). A Franco-Belgian co-production, Open-Hearted Investigation, first baptized Renaissances, is an ambitious series. By its plot whose threads intertwine skilfully according to the wanderings of its heroine. Through its assumed foray into the field of psychological drama. By the issues it addresses. And by its chosen casting, including Pef, in a difficult because sensitive counter-employment. However, we regret the pusillanimity of the authors and sponsors, in this case their inability to part with the thriller for fear of displeasing viewers. The police investigation is too important. To the detriment of the dialogues, the atmosphere… What could have made it a better than average series.


Alexandra EhleTuesday December 6 at 9:10 p.m. on France 3

After Without a faceaired last week, here is The miracle, another adventure of the most whimsical lawyer in French fiction, struggling, this time, with the corpse of a young girl probably buried alive. Even more singular, the victim presents stigmata and seems to have cried tears of blood. Who killed Jeanne and why? Maybe his jealous sister. His father, a rigorous Catholic? Or his mother, in a fit of devout rage. Go find out… Go find out also why Alexandra Ehle is losing her flavor. Are we getting tired of the small neuroses of the character created five years ago by Elsa Marpeau – remember that she is also at the origin of that of Captain Marleau? The collection suffers too much from its lack of progress – always the crime scene, the interactions with the colleagues of the medico-legal institute, the small serial background, the dog, Pierre the taxidermist, the boyfriend even more neurotic than the heroine and the same series of small situations? There remains the cast, largely dominated by Julie Depardieu. Be careful that it does not however become a hiding place…

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The Top-Flop series of the Figaro week

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