We stumbled on this by accident - a program we were watching on France 3 rolled over into an episode, and we kept on watching.
Like Columbo, each episode stands alone, though there are certain recurring characters who provide a backdrop to the investigative action. Unlike Columbo, Simon Magellan has a home life, and in general this provides the light comic relief that offsets the drama of the murder investigation.
The relations and plot twists between the various possible suspects in each murder are as tortuous as anything Agatha Christie or Erle Stanley Gardner ever dreamed up, and the frenetic pace of unravelling the tangled web in the span of a 90 minute episode keeps the viewer constantly on the edge of the seat.
The characters are for the most part highly believable, and even the bit parts and extras do a sterling job of adding credibility, especially when some of the plot propositions come across as somewhat lame. In this context, I must make mention of one young actress, Florence Coste, who played a strong supporting role in the May 2018 episode "Un Amour De Jeunesse" ("Young Love"). The ability to cry really convincingly on camera is rare. The ability to act drunk believably is almost non-existent. Ms Coste handles both with such perfect understatement that I was quite awestruck.
If I had to single out one area where the series falls short, it is in the camera work and final editing. There are jumps in the picture, badly angled shots, and a heavy reliance on a series of canned aerial views of the town to indicate that Simon Magellan is moving from place to place. But this is not an art film, it is a mystery series, and we are content to forgive the poor post-productoin for the sake of some excellent acting and fun plot.
It isn't easy to find episodes to watch. France 3 runs them from time to time in batches on successive weekends of a few weeks, but not in episode sequence, and with long breaks between. MHz Choice has the first 8 episodes available with English subtitles that are too big and too high on the screen, and therefore interfere a lot with the action. It would be nice if the copyright owners would put the existing 32 episodes on a DVD boxed set and make them available on-line.
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