Recent French adaptations of non-“Maigret” works by Belgian author Georges Simenon are on their way to American telly. Ain’t life fantastique!
Euro TV fans likely know the prolific Georges Simenon from his “Maigret” series of mystery novels, which were adapted for French television in the early ’90s and starred Bruno Cremer as the eponymous detective.
Unlike the “Maigret” whodunits, the stories in The Georges Simenon Mysteries are psychological suspense dramas in which each of the lead characters suffers some variation of mental and emotional anguish following a particular event or series of occurrences.
Episode 1 — “The Innocents” (“Les innocents“)
Adapted from the novel The Innocents, this movie opens with a car accident that kills Marie, the wife of jewelry designer Dominique Célerin. He is devastated after Lieutenant Fernaud informs him of Marie’s death, and begins reflecting on their lives together through a series of flashbacks. His business partner Jean-Paul Brassier does what he can to support him during this difficult time, but Dominique’s daughter Camille is less forgiving.
Then the question of why Marie was even on rue Marbeau starts to plague Dominique. Could she have been on this street in the elegant 16th Arrondissement for work, even though she was a social worker? Since there is no police investigation into the accident, Dominique begins one of his own. What he discovers is something he didn’t see coming.
Starring Olivier Marchal (Braquo), Stéphane Freiss (Hereafter), Julie Voisin (1788… et demi), Jacques Frantz (Nicolas Le Floch), and Virginie Peignien (Night Squad), “The Innocents” premieres Tuesday, 25 August 2015, at 9 PM ET.
Episode 2 — “Belle’s Death” (“Jusqu’à l’enfer“)
Simenon’s novel Belle is the source material for this movie, although the setting has been transposed from a small town in Connecticut to one near Orléans. The drama centers on Simon Andrieu, an introverted, married math teacher and electric train aficionado whose quiet life is turned into a hell on earth when he becomes the prime suspect in a murder.
Simon and his wife Christine are hosts to young English student Belle Sherman. The morning after Belle returned to the house from a night at the movies, she is found dead. Strangled in her bed. Christine had been out as well, so Simon has no one to corroborate his alibi: he had spent the evening alone at home, correcting papers, getting drunk, and pondering his electric trains in the basement. Now he’s struggling to hold himself together as suspicions become more and more oppressive.
Starring Bruno Solo (Blood on the Docks), Delphine Rollin (Détectives), Yvon Back (Enquêtes Reservées), Jean-Louis Foulquier (Dolmen), and Jacques Spiesser (Priceless), “Belle’s Death” premieres Wednesday, 26 August 2015, at 9 PM ET.
Episode 3 — “The Iron Staircase” (“L’escalier de fer“)
Adapted from The Iron Staircase, this telefilm is set in the winter of 1963 and revolves around Etienne Lomel, who works with his wife Louise at her printing and stationery shop. Lately he’s been getting violently ill after each meal, and gradually comes to believe that Louise is trying to poison him to death — not a far-fetched idea since Etienne doesn’t get sick when he eats elsewhere. Hmm…
Etienne and Louise had become lovers when her first husband, Guillaume, was still alive. That Guillaume had had the same excruciating symptoms before he died, well, that makes Etienne’s suspicions all the more plausible. Or does it? Etienne might be caught up in a wild fantasy due to his insane love for Louise. Enter Dr. Doër…
Starring Laurent Gerra (Special Correspondents), Annelise Hesme (Paris), Nicolas Marié (Café de Flore), and Audrey Beaulieu (C’est toi c’est tout), “The Iron Staircase” premieres Thursday, 27 August 2015, at 9 PM ET.
Episode 4 — “The Black Ball” (“La boule noire“)
This movie is adapted from Simenon’s The Rules of the Game. It’s 1979 in Charente-Maritime in the southwest of France, and Vincent Ferreira, manager of the large and popular Rochefort supermarket, wants but one thing in life: to become a member the Sporting Club, meeting place of the city’s movers and shakers. Every election, though, one anonymous voter blackballs him.
Humiliated yet again, Vincent becomes obsessed with trying to figure out why one lone person would want him excluded, so he runs through all the possible reasons he can think of. Maybe it’s because the doctors and lawyers amongst the club’s membership don’t want a shopkeeper in their midst. Or someone with Portuguese origins. Or a man with an alcoholic housekeeper for a mum. Or… what could it be? And what will Vincent do?
Starring Bernard Campan (Se souvenir des belles choses), Antoine Duléry (Les petits meurtres d’Agatha Christie), Louise Herrero (Malgré-elles), Virginie Lemoine (Famille d’accueil), and Linda De Suza (Médecins de nuit), “The Black Ball” premieres Friday, 28 August 2015, at 9 PM ET.
Episode 5 – “In Case of Bad Luck” (“En cas de malheur“)
Lastly, we come to the telefilm adapted from In Case of Emergency. The plan hatched by Noémie and Lucie was supposed to go off without a hitch. Lucie would spend the night with a jewelry store owner while Noémie robs the woman’s store. Except they didn’t account for one particular alarm, which goes off and prompts the owner to race to the store and confront Noémie. Things come to blows when Lucie defends her friend, the jeweler falls, bloodied, and the two gals split.
Thinking she killed the jeweler, Lucie wanders the streets during the night before making two stops: first to nightclub owner Sam for an alibi, and then to the famous attorney, Viviane Guérand, for legal defense. Intrigued by the presumed femme fatale, Viviane takes the case. And this is when things begin to get even darker and more interesting…
Starring Line Renaud (Chaos), Mélanie Bernier (Populaire), Didier Flamand (The Chorus), Samuel Labarthe (The Conquest), and Marie Vincent (The Horde), “In Case of Bad Luck” premieres Saturday, 29 August 2015, at 9 PM ET.