So far this year, PBS is experimenting with airing brand new mystery series imported over from the BBC. January began with Vienna Blood, a period piece from the same era as Sherlock Holmes, but set in the Austrian Empire in the final years before the Great War. For spring, the network is bringing viewers Baptiste, a new mystery series starring Turkish-born French actor Tchéky Karyo. Older viewers may remember him from the original 1982 The Return of Martin Guerre. However, he's had many supporting roles in high-profile films, including Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita, 1993's And The Band Played On, the James Bond film GoldenEye, HBO's miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, and the Mel Gibson film The Patriot.
But recently, Karyo has best been known for his role as Julien Baptiste, the title character in the new series. That's because this is a spin-off of another successful BBC series, The Missing, both seasons of which aired over here in the states on STARZ. The Missing was a co-production between the two networks, Baptiste, on the other hand, is a BBC One and All3Media production.
The synopsis for the new series reads thusly:
Julien Baptiste is staying in Amsterdam, where his daughter has recently had a child. Forever under their feet and restless, he is invited to meet up with old flame Martha Horchner (Barbara Sarafian), the chief of police in Amsterdam. But this isn’t a lunch to catch up on old times - she wants his help to find a missing girl, Natalie (Anna Prochniak), the niece of Englishman Edward Stratton (Tom Hollander).
In the original The Missing series, which aired on BBC One between 2014 and 2016, Julian Baptiste played a leading French detective, who, in both seasons, is called back to rejoin unsolved cases of missing children. The first season is very dark and doesn't have the happiest of endings, so brace yourselves. The second season is more uplifting, but by the time it begins, Baptiste has retired, and is diagnosed with a brain tumor during the events of the investigation. Baptiste will pick up not long after his surgery to remove the tumor.
In the first season of The Missing, the child in question was Oliver Hughes, who went missing at age eight during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. During a night in the fictional small town of Châlons du Bois, his father, Tony (James Nesbitt), becomes distracted watching the game in a bar. It is now eight years on, in 2014, and Tony, who has never forgiven himself for losing his son, calls Baptiste back, along with his now-ex-wife Emily (Frances O'Connor), when he discovers a clue that could lead to the now-16-year-old boy's whereabouts. Tony's evidence is compelling enough for the police to re-open the case, but the answers they seek turn out to not be the ones anyone expected.
The second season takes place on a U.K. base in Germany, more than a decade after 11-year-old Alice Webster originally went missing in 2003. Baptiste wasn't the detective from that case, as the base is outside his jurisdiction. But when out of the blue, a girl claiming to be Alice walks into town, her mother Gemma (Keeley Hawes) calls him when Alice claims she was being held captive with another girl of the same age, Sophie Giroux, a case Baptiste headed up that occurred around the same time. Alice's father, Sam (David Morrissey), wants to believe the girl who has returned in their daughter, but Gemma isn't so sure.
Both seasons sported high-end casts with Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Ken Stott (The Hobbit) in supporting roles for Season 1, and Roger Allam (Endeavour) and Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul) in Season 2. Baptiste seems to be also following this route, with Tom Hollander as Edward Stratton and Jessica Raine (Call The Midwife) as Genevieve Taylor starring alongside Karyo.
For those who are looking for solid shows to binge during this era of our stay-art-home lives, check out both seasons of The Missing ahead of Baptiste's debut stateside.
Baptiste premieres on Sunday, April 12, at 10 p.m. ET. As always, check your local listings.