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directed by Charlotte Sieling, Kristoffer Nyholm, Stefan Schwartz, and Sheree Folkson
France/UK 2013

 

The new UK/French crime series JO centers around investigations carried out by Detective Jo St-Clair (Jean Reno, CRIMSON RIVERS), an addict recovering from a myocardial infarction and not expected to live beyond another two years unless he can clean his act up. Still popping pills at the start of the series, he finds a reason to get back on the wagon when he discovers that his estranged nurse daughter Adele (Heida Reed, TRUE BLOODTHIRST) - the product of a brief affair with a prostitute - is pregnant and has her own drug habit. Karyn (Jill Hennessy, TV's CROSSING JORDAN), a nun who volunteers at a shelter for sex workers with children that was once frequented by Adele's mother and where Adele now volunteers, tries to mend bridges between the father and daughter as well as keep the peace between them when it comes to Adele's boyfriend Yannick (Chris Brazier, AIRBORNE) a drug pusher also determined to go straight for the sake of their child. Jo is continually dogged by childhood friend/loan shark Charlie (Sean Pertwee, EVENT HORIZON) who tries to take Yannick under his wing and threatens Adele's safety. Jo's team include young partner Bayard (Tom Austen, TV's THE BORGIAS) - who gets emotionally involved in cases but has yet to be alienated by Jo's behavior - Chief Dormont (Orla Brady, A LOVE DIVIDED) - herself a recovering alcoholic keeping an eye on Jo's recovery and mindful of how touchy a subject his past can be when he alienates well-connected suspects and other police divisions - pathologist Angelique Alassane (Wunmi Mosaku, CITADEL), and comic relief tech guy Normand (Celyn Jones, HONEY AND RAZOR BLADES).

The cases Jo and his team investigate are titled by their settings. The first episode "Notre Dame" concerns the body of a famous church organist (David Bark-Jones, THE DA VINCI CODE) found in front of the cathedral with his body positioned to point towards "The Last Judgment" suggesting a revenge motive. A look into his background reveals a shocking life behind the scenes (including an affair with the religious mother of one of his students) and suspects include his former protege, a female stalker, a cuckolded husband and his spurned wife. "Pigalle" starts with the death of Senegalese former model Nina Okoro (Carryl Thomas) seemingly thrown off the Eiffel Tower while attending a fashion show. Her fiance (Patrick Baladi, THE INTERNATIONAL) seems a likely suspect, but his wife (Christine Stephen-Daly, TV's CASUALTY) is also has a motive and is lacking an alibi. There was also the potential scandal of a daughter given up at birth (Gabrielle Hersh) who now dances in Josephine Baker act at a Pigalle strip club. "Place De La Concorde" starts with the discovery of the body of a rock climber (Shane Vives-Atsara Woodward) at the base of Cleopatra's Needle with an Egyptian symbol drawn on his hand and a camera battery pack among his gear. The matching symbol obelisk points them towards the window of a hotel room where they find evidence of a violent sexual assault, the victim of which is turns out to be the very willing Katie Miville (Miranda Raison, MATCH POINT) who is involved in a messy divorce with Francois Coberg (Luke Neal, WILDERNESS) the son of the powerful Liliane Coberg (Geraldine Chaplin, THE ORPHANAGE) who will go to extraordinary measures to protect the dignity of her family.

In "Invalides", the body of an air force commander (Camilla Arfwedson, THE DUCHESS) found across from Napoleon's tomb leads to a jet mechanic (Neil Jackson, QUANTUM OF SOLACE) already suspected in the year old quadruple slaying. A car fire in a parking garage in "Place Vend˘me" leads Jo and his team to a deadly ransom ring; but their main suspect is already in prison. Sam Waterston (TV's LAW AND ORDER) guests in "Le Marais" in which the murder of an antiques dealer has the team looking back to World War II and secret sales of valuables belonging to Holocaust victims. "The Opera" starts with the death of a Sorbonne law professor who slept with students of both sexes. Meanwhile, Jo becomes the focus of an internal affairs investigation after he interferes in an investigation by vice detective Duroc (Joe Tucker, UNDER THE SKIN) to protect his daughter's boyfriend. Season one closes out with "The Catacombs" in which Jo meets a formidable foe in murder suspect Madeleine Haynes (Olivia d'Abo, POINT OF NO RETURN) who may be armed with a weaponized form of the plague.

Things are of course left up in the air with the series one finale, but the show has since been cancelled due to low viewership. The casting of American, British, Canadian, and other other English-speaking talent in French roles with sometimes middling American accents - as well as possibly some dubbed voices - was jarring and sometimes resulted in bad performances from usually good actors (including a number of British TV actors who might not be so familiar internationally). The main problem with the series, however, is how conventional it is in terms of crime dramas right down to the protagonist's back-story, which does not feel sufficiently explored even with the knowledge that this was meant to be the first season of an ongoing series. The show's religious symbolism always feels heavy-handed, from the quickly-reasoned symbolic interpretations of motives to the dichotomy of Hennessy's nun and Pertwee's devilish shadow figure. The cases themselves are actually diverting even if the perpetrator is easily guessed due to the sort of unsubtle performances and treatment of the characters by the camera and scoring that are a weakness of pretty much all TV crime dramas of late.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 17 January 2013 - 7 March 2013 (Season One)

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DVD Review: Arrow Films - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 6:09:36 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.56 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• - Episode 1: 'Notre Dame' (16:9; 45:12)
• - Episode 2: 'Pigalle' (16:9; 47:58)
• - Episode 3: 'Place De La Concorde' (16:9; 46:14)
• - Episode 4: 'Invalides' (16:9; 45:32)
• DISC TWO:
• - Episode 5: 'Place Vend˘me' (16:9; 45:18)
• - Episode 6: 'Le Marais' (16:9; 45:32)
• - Episode 7: 'The Opera' (16:9; 46:30)
• - Episode 8: 'The Catacombs' (16:9; 47:12)

DVD Release Date August 5th, 2013
Digipack

Chapters 40

 

Comments

Arrow's set presents the first season's eight episodes on two dual-layer DVDs. The compression of the roughly three hours per disc is superior to that of their UNIT ONE sets (although some of the faults for that may lie in the decade old SD PAL masters), but an additional disc and a higher bitrate might have resulted in better resolution and less noise. Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo only (the French TF1 release has 5.1 audio, but in French only and apparently without English subtitles). Since the show is a UK/French co-production, the English track is equally valid but the clash of various Americanized-accents by much of the British supporting cast (playing French characters) is more distracting than a French dub might have been. I haven't heard the 5.1 tracks, but the stereo mix is fine as far as the music and effects are concerned (the many instances of loud source music never overwhelms the dialogue). There are no extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Films

Region 2 - PAL

 




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