Detective drama moves into third season

France 2, the flagship channel of pubcaster France Televisions, has placed an order for a new season of historical procedural “Nicolas le Floch.”

Set in Paris in 1761, the series turns on a dashing detective — a libertine who is ahead of his time in his investigations, but who has as many affairs as cases.

Bowing late October, on France 2, “Floch’s” first two 90-minute segs nabbed 19% and 18.2% in Tuesday primetime, making it a hit in a season of largely French frosh fall flops.

For season three, which France 2 has just commissioned, production house Compagnies des Phares & Balises has bought the rights to the characters of diplomat Jean-Francois Parot’s novels, on which the first two seasons are based. Season three shoots next year.

“In the later novels, Floch has a 15-year-old son, but we didn’t want him to grow so old so quickly,” said producer Jean Labib.

Hugues Pagan, who adapted the novels for seasons one and two, will continue as season three’s lead screenwriter.

Phares & Balises is currently shooting season two of “Floch,” directed by Nicolas Picard.

In the episode titled “The Royal Street Ghost,” a Huron Native American is the chief suspect in a murder. The other movie-length seg, “The Nicolas le Floch Case,” has Floch himself falsely accused of murder and fleeing to England. Both will air November.

In September, Phares & Balises and France 2 will sit down to bang out a budget for season three. Current costs are high-end for a European series — Euros 2.4 million ($3.2 million) an episode — but explained by its extended period piece sets and detail.

“As a commissaire, Floch was a man who could move at all levels of society. This allows us to present a historical fresco of the times,” Labib said.

The limited two-seg commission a year on a returning hit reflects fiscal pressures on France 2 as its attempts to contain costs not only on acquisitions but local production as well.

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