Appellate Judge James A. Stewart sings, "Maigrets. I've had a few..."
Our reviews of The Maigret Collection (published February 15th, 2006), Maigret: Complete Collection (published February 3rd, 2013), Maigret: Set 8 (published May 31st, 2013), and Maigret: Set 9 (published December 8th, 2013) are also available.
"I've been delayed by the discovery of a murder. This always happens accidentally."—Superintendent Jules Maigret
Georges Simenon's first case involving Superintendent Jules Maigret, Pietr-le-Letton, began his forty-two year career in print in 1930. Wikipedia lists five television series, made in three different languages, featuring the French sleuth. Two of them were in English, but Maigret, which appears on MHz Networks, isn't one of them. Bruno Cremer (Sorcerer) played Maigret on French TV from 1991-2005. The series appears with subtitles.
Facts of the Case
Maigret: Set 7 contains six TV movies, each on its own disc.
• "Maigret and the Wine Merchant"—The wine salesman has been murdered outside a brothel.
• "Maigret and the Minister"—After his car is rammed in a hit-and-run attack, a minister dealing with a secret report on a tragedy calls on Maigret for help.
• "Maigret and the Madman of Saint Clothilde"—Maigret is robbed on the train. Chasing the suspect leads him to the search for a strangler.
• "Maigret Goes to School"—Maigret helps the son of a murder suspect prove his father innocent.
• "Felicie's House"—Felicie is under protection after witnessing a murder, but she doesn't want to stay in her house.
• "Maigret and the Princess"—A count is down for the count, so Maigret finds himself meeting the princess who long loved him in secret.
The milieu and the language are French, but Maigret will immediately be recognizable as a police procedural. The TV movies are very talky, but that echoes Columbo, as does Maigret's knack for getting to know suspects. Maigret alludes to a personal life—one episode finds him on a train en route to visiting his wife and niece—but we only rarely see a glimpse of him enjoying the pipe or a glass of wine. He's always a professional.
You'll notice a key difference between Maigret and his American counterparts, though. As he puts it: "You see, it always pays to go gently." Can you imagine any cops on CBS saying "Let him sleep a few hours before taking his statement" after a killer confesses? Bruno Cremer makes Maigret's search for truth genuine, as does his rapport with the various suspects. Most notably, he asks Jean-Paul, the boy whose father is accused of murder, for his insights, letting the youngster take part in the investigation.
Maigret does a lot of location shooting, so you'll see plenty of natural lighting. Dark rooms with bright sunlight flooding the windows are abundant. Picture and sound quality are good.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
If you don't like subtitles, stay away from Maigret. Since it's especially talky, I found that reading the show was distracting at first. Once I got going, though, I found a thoughtful, well-crafted detective drama.
If you've read Maigret, you'll want to see Bruno Cremer's take on George Simenon's character.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MHz Networks
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