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Policiers Like Your Favorite Crime Show, but French

The parallels to “Homeland” extend to the troubled psyche of the main character, an agent with the code name Malotru (played by Mathieu Kassovitz of “Amélie”). His problems are caused not by brain chemistry but by the six years he spent in deep cover in Syria. In Season 3, the consequences of his time there are still playing out. He’s been captured by the Islamic State, and he spends a fair bit of the first two episodes in a wooden box.


Mathieu Kassovitz as Malotru in “The Bureau.”


“The Bureau” is clearly shot on a smaller budget than “Homeland” — even though it uses Moroccan locations, the Middle Eastern scenes can have a bargain-basement look. But it has the immediacy, tight pacing and sufficiently believable plot complications a show of its type requires; it may not deliver the action (and acting) highs of “Homeland,” but moment to moment it can be more psychologically and politically credible.

With Malotru in a box, Season 3 gives more space to other characters, especially women: the handler Marie-Jeanne (Florence Loiret-Caille), the spy Marina (Sara Giraudeau), the Syrian scholar Nadia (Zineb Triki). Four or five separate plot lines have developed in the early episodes, connected to attempts to free Malotru but deftly tied in to larger questions about bureau politics and the future of Syria.


MHz Choice, new episodes on Tuesdays. Substitute for “Midsomer Murders.”

“Magellan” is new to the streaming service MHz Choice, but it’s been around: Its six seasons ran in France from 2009 to 2016. The polar opposite of “The Bureau,” it’s a cozy-mystery cop show set in a bucolic provincial town, and its similarities to the long-running British series “Midsomer Murders” are legion. If you’re not afraid to admit you’re a “Midsomer” fan, you should start watching “Magellan” immediately.


Jacques Spiesser, left, as the title character in “Magellan,” with Bernard Alane.

Bernard Fau/JLA

MHz is working its way through the first season, which introduces Simon Magellan (Jacques Spiesser), a detective in the fictitious Saignac (filmed in and around Lille, in northern France), a sleepy, picturesque town with a surprisingly high murder rate. Magellan, a widower with two daughters, is curmudgeonly but sneaky-hip in the vein of Tom Barnaby, the original “Midsomer” detective. Unlike the married Barnaby, Magellan can date — he has an on-again, off-again liaison with a reporter — and his daughters can get up to mischief, like placing a personals ad without his knowledge.

The conventions are in plain view — the pompous provincials who make Magellan’s life difficult; the eager sergeant who’s practically a member of the family — but if they’re to your taste, you won’t find them better executed.

‘The Tunnel’

PBS, check local listings. Substitute for “Broadchurch.”

Titled “The Tunnel: Sabotage” in its second season, this angsty series set on either side of the Channel Tunnel is a British-French production, with about 25 percent of the action shot in France. PBS has shown three of the season’s eight episodes (streaming at pbs.org), and they’ve been top-notch — tense and complicated but with less of the over-the-top shock value that characterized Season 1.

Comparing the series to “Broadchurch” might seem superfluous when it’s already a remake of another popular drama, the Danish-Swedish show “The Bridge.” But for Americans, the pairing of Stephen Dillane as the empathetic British detective and Clémence Poésy as his decidedly nonempathetic French counterpart will recall how essential the interplay of David Tennant and Olivia Colman is to “Broadchurch.”

Mr. Dillane and Ms. Poésy are both very good, this time in a story involving terrorism and airplanes. With “Broadchurch” apparently finished after its current season, our appetite for odd-couple buddy-cop humor will have to be satisfied in the future by the third and final season of “The Tunnel,” scheduled for next year.

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