FRENCH CONNECTION: Jean Reno as Jo Saint Clair in the crime drama Jo.
FRENCH CONNECTION: Jean Reno as Jo Saint Clair in the crime drama Jo.

Streets of Paris offer crime time viewing

By Munya Vomo Time of article published Jun 3, 2013

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Having been in Paris recently for the first time, many of the scenes I had seen in some movies finally made sense. The narrow wet streets, the gloomy weather and almost quiet atmosphere all make you feel as if you were in a scene from The Transformer or The Italian Job. It is probably the romance-meets-danger appeal that makes Paris the action film-maker’s favourite destination.

This is why it makes sense that Jo, the new Fox TV crime drama, was shot there. Starring Frenchman Jean Reno, the show centres on Jo Saint-Clair, who has a killer on his hands. There are a series of murders going on in the city and Saint-Clair and his team are trying to stop the bodies from piling up.

Given that the drama is written by Rene Balcer, who was a writer for Law & Order, Jo is definitely something to look forward to. Helping Balcer are Frank Ollivier and Malina Detcheva, who made their names on the miniseries Lost Signs.

Reno fans will know he has done a lot of work outside his native country. You can always discern his French accent in US moves and he is so versatile he can play other nationals. His legacy has always been in the movies and he did very well with titles like Godzilla, Ronin and Hotel Rwanda. So it is alarming that he has now succumbed to making TV shows. Then again, if you look at the likes of Keifer Sutherland in 24, and Charlie Sheen in Two And A Half Men, you realise that perhaps people do not go to the movies as much as they used to, so TV is where the profits are.

English actor Idris Elba did well with the crime drama Luther, and if Jo was to come close it could be with us for a while. The whole setting – a detective chasing a killer in a cold city – is somewhat reminiscent of Twin Peaks and that was a great show.

For those who can’t speak French, do not worry as the show may have been shot in Paris, but it was done with English- speaking actors. Their heavy accents make the experience more authentic and it is easy to invest emotionally in the storyline. So far only one season has been made, but it did so well another is inevitable. Reno also signed for two seasons at the outset so we will be seeing Jo for a while.

Just because of Reno’s body of work, you should watch this. If not for that, then watch it because the hands that made Law & Order a success also worked on this.

• Jo airs every Monday at 8.15pm on Fox (DStv channel 125).

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