AMSTERDAM — If there was ever a time when crime pays, it is in Europe and it is now.
Between France’s “Julie Lescaut,” Holland’s “Baantjer,” Denmark’s “Unit One,” the U.K.’s “The Bill” and a crowd of crimeshows out of Germany, Europe is awash with local murder and mayhem and U.S. shows have to make way for the natives.
The French public especially has thrown in its lot with crimestoppers, from the 10-year-old “Julie Lescaut,” one of France’s top copshows on TF1 to the newer series “CID” (Criminal Investigation Dept.), which is similar to “NYPD Blue.”
What pulls in the auds in Europe? “The characters drive the series: If they don’t engage the public, you don’t have a series,” Dominique Lancelot, a scriptwriter and producer for some of France’s top crimeshows, tells Variety. Lancelot has worked on, among other shows, “Julie Lescaut,” TF1’s “Justice” and the just-launched “The Edge of Truth.”
A woman as boss? Says Mouss Diouf, who plays the role of an inspector in “Julie Lescaut,” “Julie is a woman in a top position working with two men (who answer to her). TF1’s female demographics love it.”
Modern Euro TV sleuths tend to be, in fact, sensitive souls: There’s the anthropomorphic Commissaris Rex in Germany, the vulnerable Montalbano in Italy and even the ex-con-gone-straight in Finland’s “Raid.”
“CID” is perhaps the only crimeshow in Europe in which no murder occurs. “We don’t appear to need it,” says producer Michelle Podroznik, who along with Frederic Krivine created the show. By contrast, the 7-year-old “Baantjer” on RTL 4 in Holland regularly adds a body to its roster.
Across Europe, there are very few private dicks in the crimeshow spree. “Luifel & Luifel” in Holland has one, and so does ZDF’s “Case for Two.”
Are the local crimestoppers crowding U.S. sleuths out of primetime? You bet. Notes Lancelot, “French people want to see what is familiar, but if the show is good enough, no matter where it comes from, it will get its primetime slot.”