Ratings news — Critically panned XIII.2 was a flop, critically acclaimed Les revenants is a success (+ new trailer)
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Season 2 of XIII, aka XIII.2, which aired from October 15 to November 22 on Canal+, will be released on DVD/Blu-ray here on December 5 and première on January 4 on Showcase, was a complete flop in France : the average ratings were around 450,000 viewers for most of the season, and episodes 2.12 & 2.13 were watched by an average of only 300,000 viewers (far from the 1 million viewers who watched episodes 1.01 & 1.02 back in April 2011) !
In comparison, the ratings for season 4 of Engrenages (September 3 - October 8, 2012) were building up throughout the season, the series gathered almost 1 million viewers each Monday - actually, episode 4.12 is the most watched episode ever (on the first airing) with 1.04 million viewers.
Now, there's the possibly to catch up throughout the week with reruns, but that's not a good sign for XIII, especially since it was barely hidden that this second season was sort of a reboot, allowing new viewers more easily (season 1 was neither a critical nor a ratings success either).
Season 2 was almost universally negatively reviewed. Some say it's better than season 1, some say it's worse than season 1, but no one said that XIII had actually become good. Among the negative comments often brought up by the critics, it says that the story of season 2 is not crazy (like good crazy) or unbridled as its showrunner intended, it's downright nonsensical, an incoherent mashup of poor taste between genres filled with clumsy references, Canal should have hired the other writer of Pulp Fiction (he had better things to do) who can pull off homages to several genres/cultures/styles with cohesion, this show is for 13-year old boys, the whole cast has no intensity/nuance in their acting (I've read comparisons to fishes, notably about Stuart Townsend & Roxane Mesquida's gaze - because good actors can express a lot just through their eyes, and obviously both leads could not).
If Showcase wants a third season of XIII, my guess is that they will have to finance it all by themselves, especially given the success of Les revenants a week later.
Indeed, last Monday, episodes 1.01 and 1.02 of Les revenants were a big success : they have garnered an average of 1.42 million viewers between 8:55pm and 10:45pm, which is the second best ratings for a series première on Canal+ (whether it's an original series or an imported one). It's as much as Borgia in October 2011 (returning in Spring 2013) and less than Maison Close's 1.5 million viewers in September 2010 (season 2 premières next January).
The critics are dithyrambic, here's some of what they had to say (having seen episodes 1.01 & 1.02, I wholeheartedly agree) : "audacious" and "ambitious", with a "nebulous" & "bewitching" atmosphere and a "captivating scenario", it's a "metaphysical vertigo" not "mimicking other shows" dealing with death, it "acknowledges 'zombie' pop culture" while remaining "very French". The whole cast is praised, and the ones often singled out are Céline Sallette (Julie) and the young Yara Pilartz (Camille). The success of the series lies in its "perfect exploration of the intimate" through this fantastic event, where the "emotional violence is even stronger than the physical". Les revenants "thickens its mystery throughout all 8 episodes", as time goes by the show "masters its storytelling", "defying temporal layers", "until the masterful conclusion".
Fabrice Gobert (creator, writer of all 8 episodes and director of episodes 1.01 & 1.04) is already working on season 2. I've read interviews of him saying how important it was that there was payoff at the end of the season, that the viewers felt all the characters had closure, basically a decent conclusion at the end of season 1 in case the series were to end after those 8 episodes, but he also wanted to leave a door open, letting us know how there's more to explore with fresh, new stories that came naturally given the kind of ending that he chose (= basically, Gobert wrote an open ending that shows us this was just the beginning of something bigger and coherent based on what we've seen so far and he already knows what that is).
Episode 1.02 was as brilliant as episode 1.01. I for one thought that it was just riveting, it really is a fascinating show not so much about death but more about faith, belief and acceptance (from the living and the 'dead'). As for the actors, Clotilde Hesme (Adèle) really had a chance to shine in the second episode, mostly focused on her and the man she was supposed to marry 10 years ago, Pierre, who died on that day and who's coming back now. Her reaction was quite different from the ones from Claire or Léna with Camille in the previous episode, or Toni's reaction in this episode when his brother returns, but no matter the characters involved I think they nailed those key scenes every time so far. And the cliffhanger unveils another mystery, this one about Julie (episode 1.01 had a pretty twisted ending as well, involving Victor), which makes me really look forward to the next episodes entitled Julie and Victor.
And now, for your eyes only, another trailer :
Voice-over : The past has decided to resurface…
Camille : You okay, mum?
Claire : Yeah, I'm okay.
Claire : Camille came back.
Pierre : I saw you in your coffin.
Camille : What happened to me? I scare you?
Léna : You don't exist!
Adèle : It has happened again. You're so beautiful.
Simon : I won't leave again.
Adèle : How do you know?
Pierre : You have believe in resurrection… I believe in it anyway.
Voice-over : Dead for several years, they're back and no one is expecting them. Why are they returning? Why in this town? For what purpose?
Léna : I'm the only one realizing what's going on here?
Voice over : Why now? Les revenants, exclusively on Canal+.
Sources : Ozap (for the ratings of XIII), Nouvel Obs (review of XIII), Canalplus (for the ratings of Les revenants), and for the reviews of the latter there's Première, Toute la culture, Le Monde, Le Nouvel Observateur, etc.
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