“Balthazar”: why TF1 is ending its successful series

Ldeath suited him so well! From his first scalpel blow, in 2018, Balthazar, the pathologist who whispers in the ear of the deceased, won over viewers (and especially female viewers) of TF1, with his charisma, his humor – necessarily black – and his non-conformism. The four seasons of the detective series have thus won the loyalty of an average (and consolidated audience) of 6.8 million fans. A very good performance in these troubled times for traditional broadcasters, faced with competition from platforms, particularly in the field of fiction.

The ace ! Despite its undeniable appeal, especially with the much-coveted purchasing manager under 50 (with 28% market share on this advertising target in 2022), Balthazar will return his gown at the end of his fifth session of autopsies, which begins this Thursday, January 19 on the front page.

Desires from elsewhere by Tomer Sisley

The reason ? The desire of Tomer Sisley, the doctor’s interpreter, to lighten his schedule to explore other fictional terrains: “It’s a lot of energy, a lot of time […] And then, the truth is that it is very time-consuming. So when I turn Balthazar, I can’t shoot anything else, “said the actor on January 2 at Sud Radio. Which is about to put on Largo Winch’s sneakers in the 3e part of the adventures of the famous heir to the cinema, adapted from the comics of Jean Van Hamme. After shining in the excellent series Vortex just broadcast by France 2.

Still, the production and the channel could have “recast” the character to continue to ride on the success of Balthazar, like the decision taken for the series Sat. After the departure of Mathilde Seigner, it was Natacha Lindinger who, in 2018, slipped into the role of the rebellious French teacher before giving up her place in 2022 to Hélène de Fougerolles (who herself left Balthazar at the end of season 3, you following?).

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An option also studied for the pathologist, but finally rejected: “We considered everything, recognizes Clothilde Jamin, the co-creator and screenwriter of the fiction. But with TF1, our common wish was not to spoil a very fine series that we had a lot of fun writing, producing and filming. “And to continue:” Tomer (Sisley, editor’s note) embodied Balthazar with all his talent and passion. He is very committed and involved in his work. It seemed complicated to us to replace it. »

A tailor-made role

Imagining someone other than Tomer Sisley in the skin of the brilliant forensic scientist was all the more difficult as the role was cut to his exact measure: “We wanted a sunny, daredevil and charismatic hero, remembers Clothilde Jamin. We immediately thought of him to embody it. It was obvious. The choice paid off. Not only does the actor, just as addicted to adrenaline as his alter ego (he does almost all the stunts in the series himself), lend him his advantageous physique and his rebellious charm, but he also fully embraces his gray areas: devastated by the loss of Lise, his beloved murdered years earlier, Balthazar loses himself in the pleasures of the flesh, good food and extreme sports to forget his pain. He only feels alive when he devours her, even if it means risking – sometimes voluntarily – losing her.

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Something to soften the hearts of the fairer sex in front of and behind the screen, as evidenced by the audiences… and the long list of his one-night stands. Not to mention the crush of her teammate Hélène Bach (Hélène de Fougerolles), at first annoyed, then intrigued, finally very attracted by her arrogance tinged with vulnerability.

When a hero meets a concept

Another reason for its success: the originality of its investigations, which renew a bit the detective genre so often explored. “The difficulty is finding the balance between a concept, a mechanism that works and a character. Balthazar, it is both a procedural on forensic medicine, and an epicurean forensic scientist who has never mourned his wife and who speaks to the dead, ”analyzes Clothilde Jamin. Entertaining, the series invites itself into astonishing universes (a haunted house, a casino, a mystical community, etc.) and mixes the emotion of drama, the lightness of romantic comedy and the tension of thrillers. An effective scheme woven around a serial red thread: that of the identity and motivations of Lise’s murderer…

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This mystery was clarified during the fourth season, which also managed to negotiate a delicate turn: the arrival of Camille Costes to replace Hélène Bach, much appreciated by the public. Much of the credit goes to Constance Labbé, who lends her energy and freshness to this explosive investigator, with a biting humour: “Each season has represented a challenge for us, explains Clothilde Jamin. For the first, it was a question of installing the concept, for the second, of being at the height of success and for the third of succeeding in renewing itself. In the fourth season, it was about not being disappointed with the departure of a beloved heroine. What about the fifth? “We absolutely wanted to finish in style. »

Cursors pushed to the maximum

Many series are canceled abruptly and in full swing, leaving their fans hungry for lack of a sufficiently anticipated end. Those from Balthazar can conversely savor a duly thought out epilogue: “We were lucky to know that the fifth season would be the last and to be able to conclude properly. We are happy with the end that we have reserved for our heroes”, welcomes the designer. While Balthazar, whose psychopathic ex-companion gave birth to a daughter in prison, thus confronts his responsibilities as a father without landmarks, Camille must for her part face the consequences of the abandonment of her biological son, who has become teenager.

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It is therefore difficult for them to concentrate on their investigations, which the screenwriters had fun adding to the final bouquet. On the program, among other things, an unbalanced puppeteer, little green (or rather blue) men, a bomb in a corpse… The opportunity for some spectacular and (too?) crazy sequences, in which the pathologist pushed the sliders far audacity to the point of literally flying away: “Here, we are dreamlike, not realistic. For us, Balthazar is a hero. Sometimes even a superhero. That’s what we wanted to show in this season, in the form of a nod to those films. Superman of the hearings, will Balthazar join the planet of cult series? It’s up to the public to decide.

“Balthazar”: why TF1 is ending its successful series