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Canal+ released its 2011/2012 schedule and a description of their series in development, and I noticed that writers of some shows you may have watched are developing new series for this channel.

For those of you who don't know, Canal+ is a french pay-cable channel. A few months ago they co-produced XIII with Showcase, they're co-producing the upcoming Tom Fontana series Borgia (premiering on October 3rd - not to mix up with Showtime's series), they produced Carlos, a Golden Globe-winning miniseries last January (Edgar Ramirez was also nominated for best lead actor). Carlos is nominated to this year's Emmy Awards, too, for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries (Edgar Ramirez) and outstanding directing in a miniseries (Olivier Assayas).

Canal+ has a reputation for creating ambitious, high profile drama series, such as Reporters (a gritty, realistic look at a newspaper editiorial offices), La Commune (a show about gang wars in banlieue), Scalp (a show about traders on the stock markets, the show premiered a few months before the infamous stock market crisis), Pigalle la Nuit (a show about a man whose sister was abducted in the mysterious, surreal and dangerous (at night) Pigalle area in Paris, while we follow in parallel the opposition between two nightclub managers to find out who will rule the area). These shows are no longer in production but Canal+ still has original dramas in production, I'm talking about them at the end of this post.

Now, here are the synopses of their dramas in development :

1 - John Milius (co-creator of Rome) and Daniel Knauf (creator/showrunner of Carnivàle) are developing Pharaoh. This new series (12 episodes, 52 minutes each) will be set in Egypt, 1500 BC. At that time, the country was ruled by a king whose mission was to make sure there was harmony between humans and gods. When he died, the country was subject to indecision and fear for the future. The conflict for power started to arise between two pharaohs : Thoutmosis III, who ultimately became Egypt's greatest conqueror, and Queen Hatchepsout, his mother-in-law, one of the most powerful women of these dark times.

2 - André and Maria Jacquemetton (writers/producers on Mad Men) are developing Versailles (12x52 min), a new drama set in 1669, at the time when the castle was being build. The series will follow the lives of Louis XIV, a young swiss guard joining the king in the Court and an ambitious british woman returning from the Americas and aiming to gain power.

3 - Jed Mercurio (creator of Invasion : Earth and Bodies) is developing La Patrouille Perdue (= The Lost Patrol), a new historic/fantasy series (12 episodes, 52 minutes each). During the 1914-1918 war, captain Declerq is brought to martial court. He is facing dishonorable discharge for making a mistake that cost lives in the trenches. Instead, he gets assigned to a mission sending him to the No Man's Land between the french and german demarcation lines. When he gets there, supernatural events start to happen and soon he starts to think it's not a coincidence he got assigned to this area, he was brought there for a reason...

4 - L'Anarchiste (= The Anarchist) will be a thriller created by Florent Emilio Siri (director of Hostage, writer/director of Nid de Guêpes and L'Ennemi Intime). Siri has written and will direct all 6 episodes of this miniseries (52 minutes each). Benoit Magimel will star as Jules Bonnot, an anarchist, thief and murderer, leader of a criminal organization called "La Bande à Bonnot". He and his team were hunted down by the police in 1911/1912, and this show will depict the creation and the downfall of Bonnot's gang.

5 - Pink Panthers will be a six-part miniseries focused on the famous serbian criminal organization "Pink Panthers", responsible of multiple robberies in France, Germany, Spain and numerous european countries. Since 1993, they stole more than 500 million dollars (mostly in jewellery). As of today, some members of this organization tied with the serbian mafia are still on the run from every european law inforcement agency looking for them. Jérôme Pierrat (journalist specialised in criminology) and Jean-Alain Laban (a novelist who wrote about mobsters) will write all 6 episodes.

6 - Les Revenants (eight 52-minute episodes), written and directed by Fabrice Gobert, will be the anti-Walking Dead : in this show, people will come back to life but they won't try to eat flesh, they'll want to reajust to society, but when you've been dead, it's not as easy as you may think. The show will follow some newly undead people as they come back to their families & friends and try to have a normal life again. It's a new take on a subject tacked in a 2004 movie.

These shows will air during the 2012/2013 season on Canal+, none of them is shooting yet. It is likely Pharaoh will be shot in english, Versailles and La Patrouille Perdue have american and british writers involved but I think they might be shot in french and as for L'Anarchiste, Pink Panthers and Les Revenants, they will be shot in french.

Canal+ is developing comedies as well :

1 - Platane (12 episodes, 26 minutes each) will premiere on September 5th. After hitting a platanus and spending a year in a coma, Eric Judor, star of the Canal+ comedy series H (1998-2002) and numerous movies with his old buddy, Ramzy Bedia (they're often called "Eric & Ramzy"), realizes his old partner didn't wait for him to wake up : Ramzy moved on, he went on to shoot the sequel to H, called HP, which made him a huge star. Eric then decides to prove to himself and to the world that he can be a dramatic actor as well, so he decides to star and direct a sequel to La Môme (= la Vie en Rose) entitled "La Môme 2.0 : Next Generation". The series will follow his struggles to make this film happen. There will be many guest stars in their own roles, such as Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, Gilles Lellouche, Pierre Richard, Clotilde Courau, Mathieu Amalric and Guillaume Canet. Eric's old friend, Ramzy Bédia, will appear as well. I'm sure most of you don't know who Eric Judor is, but he and Ramzy and inseparable - to picture the pitch of this weird comedy, think of Hardy from Laurel & Hardy getting in a coma and when he wakes up, Laurel has made a successful carrier on his own, then Hardy tries to prove he can also act in dramatic roles. Eric Judor wrote this comedy with Hafid F. Benamar.

Here's a trailer for Platane parodying a famous Canal+ commercial promoting its original series (if you hadn't figured it out by reading the synopsis, Eric definitely has a weird of humor). Watch it first and then watch this teaser below :



Basically, at the end, the man in the suit is saying that Eric (in the bed with the man's wife) is lying, he's saying that what Eric told him to explain the fact that he's in a bed with his wife (being chased in the woods, following a flock of sheep, ending up in a factory where he got sealed in a plastic bag containing sheets which ended up being bought by the man's wife) is not true. The man says it's bullshit, Eric replies it's not as much bullshit as mister closet over there, then the husband says the drapes are not made of sheep wool, they're made of goose feathers, that's what was bugging him.

And here's an actual trailer with footage from the episodes :



2 - Kaboul Kitchen (12 episodes of 26 minutes each) will premiere next Spring (it's shooting right now). It's written by Jean-Patrick Benes, Allan Mauduit, it's being directed by Frédéric Berthe, and it's starring Simon Abkarian (Casino Royale, season 6 of Spooks and Pigalle, la Nuit), Gilbert Melki and Stéphanie Pasterkamp. This comedy takes places in Kabul, Aghanistan, in 2005. Jacky, a french expatriate, is running the Kaboul Kitchen, a restaurant where there's alcohol, swimming pools and topless ladies : it's a huge success, Jacky makes a lot of money, that's the reason he's there. His daughter, Sophie, is coming to Kabul and she's filled with moral ideals and good intentions. She has never seen her father (he left when she was born 20 years ago), she thought it was time to meet him as she's coming to Kabul to do humanitarian business.

3 - Au Service de la France (= To Serve France) will be a spy comedy set in the 60's (12 episodes of 26 minutes each). It will air during the 2012/2013 season. The show will revolve around André Merleaux, a soldier coming back from Algeria and enrolled by a french intelligence agency to become a real spy. It turns out the people he works with are not as conscientious as him. The man behind this show is Jean-François Halin, writer on the cult satirical show Les Guignols de l'Info (News Puppets) and the recent reboot of the OSS 117 franchise turned into spy parody movies (Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006), Lost in Rio (2009) and the upcoming final OSS 117 movie set in Central African Republic (2012)). Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (code name OSS 117) is a stupid, macho, mysognist, overly patriotic 'spy'. The first movie was set in 1955, the second one in 1967 (and the third one will take place in 1980), and through the depiction of the missions of this self-centered asshole, it really is a smart take on the morals of these times and a great parody of the early James Bond movies. You should check these movies out, both Cairo, Nest of Spies and Lost in Rio are available on DVD. In Au Service de la France (also taking place in the 60's), it looks like the roles are reversed, the main character seems normal but it's his co-workers who are like Hubert.


Canal+ has some returning dramas coming up as well :

- Hard season 2 aired last June (12 episodes).
- Braquo season 2 will air in November (8 episodes).
- Mafiosa season 4 (final season) will air in January (8 episodes).
- Engrenages season 4 will premiere in April (12 episodes).
- Maison Close season 2 will premiere in September 2012 (8 episodes).


Most of you probably don't know these series, but trust me, as far as I'm concerned, they're all good (in the list I haven't seen the latest seasons of Mafiosa and the two seasons of Hard but these shows both receive good reviews). Here are their synopses :

- Hard is a dramedy revolving around Sophie, a woman whose husband dies. She discovers he was not running an informatics store, it was a cover-up for his real job : creator of a porn movies production company, Soph'X. At first, Sophie wants to clear the company but she finds out her husband contracted huge debts to modernize the company before his death, and she meets with an actor featured in many of her late husband's movies, Roy La Poutre (Roy the Beam), it will start to make her reconsider the liquidation, Sophie starts to feel like she can do something with this and make money in the porn industry.


- Braquo is about a group of cops who try to avenge the honor of a former colleague of them who killed himself after being wrongly accused of corruption. They don't hesistate to cross the line to get to the bottom of this story.

- Mafiosa revolves around Sandra Paoli, a 30-year-old woman who takes over the corsican mafia his uncle left her in charge of (he was assassinated and it was his will that she succeeded him). We follow her as she rules this organization (prior to this she was a lawyer), does whatever it takes not to get caught by the police and takes down her opponents both outside and inside the mob, she may be in charge but Sandra has ennemies in her own clan.


- Some UK members may know Engrenages, it aired on the BBC as Spiral, and Season 1, season 2 and season 3 are all available on DVD in the UK, plus a seasons 1-3 boxset was released earlier this month (and there are english subtitles !). If you like The Killing or The Wire, you should like it. Each season has its own plot (season 1 started with a romanian teenager found dead in a dumpster ; season 2 was about disbanding a powerful narcotic network ; season 3's plot revolved around a serial killer and corruption within the government). It's crude, extremely violent and very well done : Engrenages is without a doubt Canal+'s landmark series.

- Maison Close is set in a whorehouse in 1871. We follow three prostitutes who try to free themselves from this place, and also follow the woman in charge of this place as she tries to keep it running. It's not a simple brothel, there are many codes in this house of pleasures. I'm not entirely convinced by Maison Close, the pacing is very slow and the stakes are not exactly thrilling. The writers and Canal+ acknowledged some mistakes were made in season 1 and they promised they'll fix it in the second season.


It goes without saying that Braquo, Maison Close, Mafiosa and Engrenages are for mature audiences.

All these shows are broadcasted on Mondays, the night dedicated to original creations. The upcoming shows in the timeslot are Platane (September 5th - September 26th, 3 episodes in a row each week), Borgia season 1 (October 3rd - October 31st, 2 episodes per Monday night), Braquo season 2 (November 14th - December 5th, 2 episodes per week). There are still no official premiere dates for the new seasons of Mafiosa, Engrenages and the new series Kaboul Kitchen yet, but they will all air in the first semester of 2012.

By the way, here are the US series Canal+ will broadcast this season : The Event (2 eps/night), Shameless season 1 and Mad Men season 4 this September ; Camelot (2 episodes/night) will air this December ; Dexter season 6, The Big C season 1 and Weeds season 6 will start this January ; Terra Nova, Damages season 4 and Nurse Jackie season 3 will air this Spring, and the final season of both Desperate Housewives (2 eps/night) and Spooks will start in May.

Canal+ didn't mention anything about a new season of XIII in its 2011/2012 schedule, and it seems like Showcase won't renew the series either so my guess is there won't be a second season of XIII.

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