“Chérif” is a subtitled French crime television series set in Lyon, France that ran for six years. From the episodes I’ve seen (the first and fourth seasons), it fully deserved this level of success. Cherif (Abdelhafid Metalsi) is a maverick police captain who exudes the kind of mischievous charisma that suits all cultures and backgrounds.
At the start of the series, Cherif was given a new partner, Adeline (Carole Bianic) – an uptight, rule-compliant woman who is also new to Lyon and unaccustomed to its unorthodox methods of dealing with suspects and witnesses. . As usual, her ways prove to be very successful and she reluctantly becomes more flexible. Isn’t it always like this? After all, if Murtaugh had made Riggs more disciplined, the LETHAL WEAPON franchise would have died after the premiere.
Each episode is a self-contained crime for the pair to solve, though some personal issues for both provide threads that run through them all. The scripts are solid, with plenty of light touches that should appeal to viewers here and in Europe as well. The production values are top notch. American audiences in particular will find the sets a nice change of pace from our usual New York and Los Angeles sets. Unlike TV show imports that take a full season to solve a complicated case, this one doesn’t call for excessive viewing. One can simply enjoy each episode when time permits, without having to remember details from before. The two stars are well matched. Her default facial setting of a wry, conniving smile is a perfect counterpoint to the grimace that is her default setting. Their skills are very different but equally valuable, making them a couple viewers will enjoy following.
Predictably, the inevitable rainbow for such cop or detective teams is there, but minimized at first after a cute first encounter of sorts that oozes rom-com. Unfortunately, I missed the second and third seasons, but picking up with this fourth didn’t make me feel too far out of the loop. Much of the original cast was still in place. Apparently, the pending romance between Captain Cherif and Adeline nearly came to fruition before she abruptly left Lyon, returned to Paris with a beau, and joined her home department. The fourth season opens with her equally sudden return (minus the beau) after seven months of complete silence, and a new back bug that she doesn’t want to discuss. With someone.
Cherif has a new girlfriend, but the connection between him and Adeline continues to seep professionally, if not romantically. New crimes to solve are prioritized and, as before, they face entertaining and well-written challenges. During this 10-episode season, we learn little by little what happened in Paris, and the reason for Adeline’s secrecy in common thread with the crime of the day of each show.
As before, Cherif maintains his mischievous smile while investigating and catching their criminals. He delivers the show’s considerable levity with clever tricks and traps, usually attributing his key tactics to a variety of American crime series such as COLUMBO, MOONLIGHTING, HART TO HART, and more. He even quotes episode numbers with a wink as he spreads or consumes each caper. Most of the offerings follow a light police procedural structure, but episode four throws our hero into a state of confusion, finding himself in a GROUNDHOG DAY time loop scenario. Another subplot stems from the return of her father – a non-violent type career criminal. The pair also uncover an actual murder that happened at a high-end murder mystery roleplay party.
“Sheriff” would be just another pleasant and binge-worthy entertainment, but for the abundant charm of its main character. The dude goes through life like he knows a little more than everyone else, then uses his street smarts in the best way possible for everyone involved. The contrast with Adeline’s resting skeptical face makes for an odd couple that works for their department and their viewers.
I have to warn you that this 10-episode season ends on a cliffhanger, but that’s relatively forgivable, since two other seasons have already taken place in France, and are sure to follow here. Shortly.
Season 4 of “Cherif,” alternatively titled “Captain Cherif,” primarily in French with English subtitles, is available to stream on MHz Choice starting June 7.
RATING: 3 out of 4 stars