From Quad Television, the TV arm of the production company behind 2011’s hit feature The Intouchables, Disparue (aka The Disappearance) may just be France’s answer to UK dramas like Broadchurch and The Missing. The series debuted on Wednesday night on France 2, drawing 5.26M viewers and a 20.8 share for the first episode, and 5.4M viewers and a 22.2 share for the second. They handily won the night, beating two new installments of Grey’s Anatomy on leading broadcaster TF1. In comparison, the first three episodes of S2 of Broadchurch, which also airs on France 2, drew a 20.5 share earlier this month.
The Disappearance (trailer above) is written by Marie Deshaires and Catherine Touzet (Détectives) and based on Spanish format Desaparecida which won international prizes during its 2007-08 run. Set in Lyon, the French version traces the increasing trauma of the Morel family who fall apart when their 17-year-old daughter fails to return home from a night out. As the hours pass and the police investigation builds, The Disappearance explores every parent’s worst nightmare. There are similarities to Broadchurch in that the lead detective has a complicated backstory while the family members and friends each appear to be hiding something.
The eight-part series stars Alix Poisson as matriarch Florence Morel. She notably appeared in Les Revenants (The Returned), the French supernatural drama from Canal Plus and Haut et Court that’s been a breakout international hit. Zodiak Rights handles both.
Also starring are veteran actors Pierre-François Martin-Laval, François-Xavier Demaison, Laurent Bateau and newcomer Camille Razat as Léa, the girl who goes missing. Charlotte Brandstrom, whose credits include Wallander, is director.
France is upping its game recently with series that have been able to travel and also been embraced at home. For the first time in many years, French programming is more popular than American shows with viewers in the Hexagon. Production values and pacing have greatly improved with such series as Les Revenants, Engrenages (aka Spiral) and The Tunnel finding homes outside of France. The Disappearance could be next. Also among promising upcoming series are two from Canal Plus: English-language period piece Versailles and Le Bureau Des Légendes, created by Eric Rochant and starring Mathieu Kassovitz.