“Paris Police 1905” – Into a modern era kicking and screaming [TELEVISION SERIES]
“Paris Police 1905” is the sequel to “Paris Police 1900” and almost as juicy. Like the original series, many of the characters are based on real people. Louis Lépine, head of the Paris police, was tasked with bringing order to the streets, excising corruption from the ranks and bringing the police into the twentieth century with modern forensic methodology. Marguerite Steinheil, the infamous concubine, beauty starting to fade, conducts illegal games of chance in her back rooms; Jeanne Chauvin now has a license to practice law; and Alphonse Bertillon, as part of Lépine’s modernization plan, has brought anthropometry, the measurement of physical characteristics, and the introduction of the mug shot to policing. His methods and expertise were not flawless but he helped bring modern technology to the force. All of these characters existed in real life and were famous, or on the part of Steinheil, infamous.
This season of 6 episodes centers around a so-called suicide victim found in the Bois de Boulogne, a hotbed of male and female prostitution. Investigation leads incorruptible Inspector Jouin to a viper’s nest of police corruption and blackmail, all involving the untouchable head of the vice squad and a suspect physician known for his treatment of syphilis. And it all starts with the arrest of a suspected prostitute, on her way to buy medicine for her six-month old child.
It’s Christmas Eve and a crackdown on prostitution has been mandated. Unable to return home, her child dies and she is thrown in prison. It is the arrest of Rosalie that starts the wheels rolling when it is revealed that the baby died of syphilis. Jouin, outraged by her treatment by the vice squad, is convinced Rosalie was not a prostitute and that it was someone she knew who infected her. Just like the suicide victim, in the last stages of syphilis, all roads lead to Dr. Verlot, a physician of apparent unimpeachable background who may not be all that he claims.
Homosexuality was a crime and even the suspicion of such could lead to financial and societal ruin. Closeted members of the upper echelon of society have reason to be terrified and stop further investigations. All roads lead into the Bois de Boulogne and Jouin and his boss, the incorruptible Commissaire Cochefer, are getting too close to the blackmailers who will stop at nothing to impede their investigation.
Tension, duplicity, blackmail, revenge, corruption in the church; all play a delicious part in this engaging series. Lucky for us there will probably be a sequel because Lépine continued as the reform-minded chief of Police until 1913.
In French with English subtitles.
The first two of the six episodes begin streaming November 14 on MHz Choice, with two episodes per week after that.