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Set for its premiere in the US and Canada is the French series Le Code, a solid, ensemble-cast legal drama set in Lille.

Le Code
Le Code — Photo by Gilles Gustine, courtesy of MHz Choice

Usually it’s crime dramas that start off with a literal bang, but in this case it’s a legal drama, Le Code. It opens with a rather tense scene between two men: a distraught man pointing a gun who, earlier that morning, became a widower, and the Paris-based attorney for the company where the man’s wife worked, the defendant in a class action case that was ruled in its favor.

We next see attorney Idriss Toma (Daniel Njo Lobé, Mongeville, Murder in Albi) sixteen months later in his hometown of Lille. He survived the attempted murder on his life, but only just — three bullets were removed but an inoperable fragment remains in his skull, and it could kill him at any time, very likely within a year. Despite the searing pain that flares up, Idriss is committed to making the best of however much time he has left and to making up for past mistakes, so he has set up the law firm of Ayad-Toma-Vanhoven with co-partners Nadia Ayad (Naidra Ayadi, Black Spot) and Jeanne Vanhoven (Christiane Millet, Speakerine) to help those who have been left behind by the justice system.

One day Idriss is brought into the local police station on suspicion of drunk driving and put in a holding cell — and released just minutes later. Now he and junior attorney Claire Caldeira (Barbara Probst, Speakerine) must prepare for a trial that begins tomorrow, one for which they don’t have the case files but must obtain them quickly in order to defend the firm’s newest client, Estelle Lantez, who is charged with murdering her abusive partner. So Jeanne, a former barrister who manages the daily goings-on at firm but doesn’t handle cases, sets about to get the files.

Elsewhere in the firm, receptionist and office assistant Élodie Nedelec (Catherine Demaiffe, Blood of the Vine) provides a bit of help with regard to Nadia’s representation (again) of M. Garcia, a kleptomaniac. But Nadia and junior attorney Maxime Laffargue (Théo Frilet, Time Is a Killer) will need more than a nice box of bonbons if they are going to win the case against Jérémy Dutertre, a young lad with a hair-trigger temper and a history of violence who is going to trial for the cold-blooded murder of a shopkeeper.

Meanwhile, Idriss isn’t content to atone, if you will, in the professional arena. He’s been trying to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter, Chloé (Wendy Nieto, Perfect Murders), but she wants nothing to do with him — not even when she needs a lawyer… and a father.

If the rest of Season 1 of Le Code is as good as the first two episodes, then it’s a solid, character-driven, case-of-the-week legal procedural with a story arc that delves into the personal life of lead character Idriss. Speaking of, he reminds me a bit of Luther‘s Luther — partly because of the name Idriss and both Daniel Njo Lobé and Idris Elba are Black, but also in how Idriss can get laser-focused on a case, pull a fast one to get what he wants, and have nary a clue about why someone he loves doesn’t want him in their life.

Back to the show: Le Code is neither dark and heavy nor light and breezy, nor is it middle of the road. It is just right, with engaging characters on both sides of the courtroom aisle, intriguing stories that reflect flaws in the justice system and in being human, and moments of suspense, high emotion and humor that, altogether, make the series very entertaining and enjoyable.

Guest stars in the first two episodes include Stéphane Blancafort (Tandem) as Carl Roussel, Annelise Hesme (Nina) as Estelle Lantez, François Bureloup (Cherif) as M. Garcia, Grégoire Bonnet (Nina) as public prosecutor Kowalski, and Elias Hauter (Murder in Blois) as Jérémy Dutertre.

Le Code premieres in the US and Canada tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10, exclusively on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon. (You can add it to your watchlist now.)


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Euro TV to Watch: Solid French Legal Drama ‘Le Code’
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