Witnesses/ Les Temoins. Episode One-some notes and dialogue with review at the end. Minor spoilers only. In French with English subtitles. On Channel Four or channel number 104 with 142 being HD on Virgin Media TV in the UK Wednesdays @ 10pm

Witnesses/ Les Temoins

Episode One.
Some notes and dialogue on first watching.

Wow.  Overflying shots of the cliffs of Dover.  (i think)

As a man arrives at a graveyard,
Another man to a beautiful house.  Then odd things arise.

An eponymous happy couple with a child.  One of whom will be the Police Detective.
Yep.  Sandra Winckler. Criminal Investigation Department/ C. I.D.

Everything is all a little odd.  In the murder scene.  And that’s putting it mildly.

Other Detective to Sandra Winckler:
“Weber, like in The Empire of The Ants”
“That’s Werber, she corrects him.    Don’t ask me.

So that was a long prologue and now Detective Sandrine CID is walking, for some reason, slowly up a walkway next to a row of beach huts.  All painted in pastel colours.

She opens a door.  We see a wolf-what?  Is it real or is it all deep and meaningful.

The dialogue and action is all quiet languorous in feel.  Sandrine stares moodily into space a lot.

Just in case we didn’t pick up on the classic Detective trope involved in Sandara sighing over her: “Old tutor” who was their Police Chief  (yes in case we haven’t twigged)  Sandrine and the wife of dishy boss exchange mean, lingering stares with each other..

Correction-this lady is not Paul Maisoneuve’s wife but they just stare anyway.

I dunno.  so far Sandrine is like the anti-Spiral (series) or rather-not Detective Chief Inspector Berthauld.  That is not fair of course.  It’s just that I get that Spiral feeling when I see the Police Detectives put that orange-red armband on their jackets.  To signify that they are working.

Detective on scene to Sandrine:
“”They came through the window here..”
“The mother up here, the Grandma in there..”
“The little girl..”
“A happy family”..

So Sandrine has a quick glass of water as she gazes at the woman.  In the kitchen.

Her Detective partner hums a high pitched hum as he wanders down the corridor.  Of the house.

Nb.  Witness is Temoins in French by the way.

So here comes the Police Chief, Ex-Police Chief, with a cane and a limp.
A bit like the character Jean Luc Baptise in the ( British series) The Missing.

Sandrine’s Detective partner to her:
“Has he crawled out of his hole then?”
“Is he coming back?”

Of course he’s coming back.

So there seems a great many Policemen around the empty grave.    But one of them addresses a man as:
“Your Honour”.
So that man must be the Examining Judge.  From the Court.

(I did think for a moment that the man experimenting in getting out of the grave: might not be able to get out)

The tall and saturnine of expression Ex-Police Chief is called Paul Maisoneuve.  He is handsome and stately of gait.  However-where is Jean Luc Baptiste from the series The Missing when you need him.

Sandrine sits, beautifully framed in half shadow in a classically rounded French armchair.  If you can have a French armchair.  I think you can.  I mean in style.

Twangingly odd and minorly funky music plays.  As the handsome Paul Maisoneuve stares moodily at the crime scene photos. at the Police station.

Sandrine to the Detectives: her Detective partner and Max (the Police Chief)
Paul to Max:
Max, I’m not coming back..”

Sandrine’s Detective partner:
“Sandrine, do the bunny!”
So Sandrine does some research..

It’s getting interesting.  Although weirdly filmed somehow: in real time, like a one take real life Documentary.

Sandrine’s Detective Partner (I will find out his name) Lights up like a light-bulb/ Christmas tree when Sandrine does her bunny impression.

The sky is forever grey and white, the light is pale.  In Witnesses.

Sandrine to Paul Maisoneuve:
“How many keys?”

Sandrine to the Policemen and her old tutor, Paul Maisoneuve, who of course is still there:
“He’s (the murderer is) sending a message”!
No shit Sherlock.

So Sandrine is always looking at people’s shoes. Even I’m looking at shoes now.  Only because the camera tilts literally down to the shoes.  I think a certain somebody’s shoes maybe match one of the dead bodies.

I have already thought about defecting from Witnesses to Wentworth Prison a couple of times.  But I feel I should give Witnesses a fair shot.  A crack of the whip.

Yes.  But what if Paul Maisonneuve is evil.  He could be.

Oh I get it..
“Eight years ago..to Paul Maisoneuve.

Paul sits alone.  In the dark. His voice breaking.  Talking to the photo of his wife.  He holds the phone with the photo in his two palms.  In front of him.  Like the phone was a precious relic.

Then Paul Maisoneuve meets a beautiful young girl in a cafe’.
Young girl:
“My name is Laura”
She pauses.
To Paul:
“You’re staring at me”.
And he is.

We see her (Laura?) tell a story to her baby sister.
(or it might be Sandrine and her daughter)
“One day the princess..”
“She knew she should not go into the deep forest..”
You know it’s not going to be a good story.
She continues:
“She knew something was stirring there..
“Among the shadows..”

Then Paul Maisoneuve stares at the funicular railway.  Up high in the mountain.  Up he goes.  Now he’s walking down a road bordered on both sides with rows of  Cypress trees.  They have roads like that  in France.

Now- down Paul Masioneuve comes.  It’s OK.  I get it.  That was where the accident happened.

Blimey.  well that took me by surprise.

Grey and cloudy skies fill the screen.



So I see I sure wrote a lot for one episode.  Which could seem strange considering that I found Witnesses a little underwhelming. to watch.  A little bit heavy going.  Like walking in a wind, with Sou-westers on.  When the wind’s so strong you are forced to take short, slow steps.  Like you were a minor version of a man on the moon.

Perhaps I just had more time or inclination to write.  Possibly because there wasn’t really a lot going on.  So far it, the drama, is unfolding with a lot of dreamy, spaced out overflying shots.  Of vast stretches of land and sea.  white cliffs, but from the French side.  I have had time to ponder such things I guess.

Then there is the cold vistas of perfect newly built homes:in the every grey grainy skies/ sky.  The landscape is cold and bleak.  Clean and crisp in appearance.  Perhaps this is the effect of the mountain air.

There were moments when the desolate stillness of the suburban scenes as they trailed before our  eyes: reminded me of the Welsh series 35 Diwnord/ Thirty Five Days.  That series too dealt in infinite detail.  Plus a pace of an almost stultifying nature.  and slowness.

There is an odd air of unreality about the crime scenes.  In the staging of the bodies in the show-homes.  As Sandrine and her detective partner enter and plod carefully and glumly around: the bodies take on an almost comical air.

 Unless this experienced aspect of surreal humour to the whole scene is just me.  I don’t think so.  I think the drama maybe dabbling, deliberately with a tiny touch of dark comedy. Or I maybe entirely wrong.

I do tend towards thinking such creaking drama stuffed full of stereotypical crime drama  tropes: are mildly if unconsciously, amusing.  That daftness can add to a drama’s charm.  Or it can somehow kill, or puncture the drama of all seriousness.  Which of these happen must be both for fortuitous and random reasons.

So far Witnesses perhaps unwittingly bears some similarities with the British series The Missing.  Or maybe I mainly see the similarities between the character of Jean Luc Baptise Detective (Retired) in the Missing with Paul Maisoneuve here.

There were times as well when Witnesses called to mind The Tunnel (the British remake of The Bridge).  The Tunnel too, delighted me with it’s sumptuous overlying shots of verdant greenery, fields and the twin opposite cliffs: of France and England.

Although in The Tunnel there as so much overflying shots I developed a kind of metaphorical vertigo.  Or so I described it at the time.  Here too, we spend a fair bit of time up in the air: as viewers.  Not that I’m complaining.

Here too, as on the Tunnel there is the cold grey afternoon, the white and palest light.  Surrounding the bleak landscape peopled with small white farms, housing developments.  And the mountains.

Shades of the scene setting in the American series the Returned came to mind then too.  All in the shadow of the mountains.


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