Dan Franck, 2016–
When I was in high school, my French teacher would sometimes show us French movies, all of which seemed to star the same guy. The Return of Martin Guerre, Danton, Les Compères, Jean de Florette… did France even have any other lead actors? Not really, my French teacher said. "If anyone ever asks, 'Who's that French actor who was in…?', the answer is Gérard Depardieu." Cut to the summer of '89. I'm on a field trip to various locales in France (Paris, the Loire valley, Normandy) with a few dozen high school students from across Orange County. One afternoon we're relaxing at the hotel and flip on the TV. Hey, it's French Jeopardy! And it's just starting. The first pick is "Le Cinéma" for 200 francs. The host reads: "Cet acteur—"
"Qui est Gérard Depardieu?" I immediately say to the screen.
By the time I get that out, the host has finished reading the rest of the clue. A contestant rings in. "Qui est Gérard Depardieu?" he says.
"Exact!" the host declares. Everyone in the room stares at me. Muha muha muha.
Now cut to 27 years later, and having finished Heroes Reborn, I am looking for a new show to watch. I poke around online and find a mention of a French show, produced by Netflix, about political intrigue in France's second city: Marseille. That sounded like an interesting change of pace from the usual American and British fare, so knowing nothing more about it than that, I decided to give it a look. The first name in the opening credits? Gérard Depardieu. Zut alors!
Anyway, I probably should have read some reviews, because it turns out that Marseille was a critical bomb. And it's easy to see why. Despite revolving around a mayoral election, this is not political intrigue — it's silly soap opera. In consecutive episodes, the incumbent mayor's daughter's boyfriend is murdered, his wife attempts suicide, and he himself has a heart attack while the election results are being read. (The heart attack itself is not too surprising, given that Gérard Depardieu now weighs 350 pounds.) Oh, and then there's the central revelation of the first season, which is that his opponent in the election turns out to be… HIS SON! No evil twins yet, but I guess they had to save something for season two.