Thursday, July 11, 2024

High Intellectual Potential, on Hulu

Forget lawers—happily. Cleaning ladies are the new go-to profession for TV series. This one is working on the right side of the law. Morgane Alvaro is also about the make the step up to lucrative consultant gigging when she helps point a police investigation in the right direction. Getting respect of her reluctant partner will be harder in co-creators Stephane Carrie, Alice Chegaray-Breugnot, and Nicolas Jean’s French series High Intellectual Potential, which premieres tomorrow on Hulu.

Alvaro has a high IQ, but her EQ is questionable. That is why she constantly gets fired from dead-end jobs. As the pilot episode, “West Wind,” opens, she is cleaning the Lille police station, where she notices Adam Karadec’s investigation is way off-base. Having a compulsive need for order, she ill-advisedly re-organizes his bulletin board. At first, he and his boss, Celine Hazan, throw her in jail, but of course, she is right.

Jeanne Levasseur was Karadec’s prime suspect, but Alvaro deducts from a quick perusal of the crime scene photos that she is a victim—and presumably in grave peril. Obviously, this makes Karadec look like an idiot, so he resents working with Alvaro when Hazan hires her.

Even after the third (of three episodes provided for review), Karadec and Alvaro still aren’t clicking as a team and she keeps showing him up. For their second case, “Malagasy Customs,” the bickering pair face a locked hotel room mystery, once they eliminate the victim’s lover, the last person seen leaving his room, as a suspect.

Once again, Karadec is woefully unobservant and not so inclined to reflect on his failings. However, the procedural takes sone interesting turns and it showcases Alvaro’s empathy. Far from unfeeling, she just has problems with authority, anger management, and impulse control. So, maybe she would not be super-fun to work with.

The second episode also introduces what will presumably the first season’s continuing story-arc, when Hazan agrees to investigate the disappearance of Alvaro’s first husband. The world assumes he absconded, but she believes he was the victim of foul play. As it happens, Karadec turns up something suspicious that hits close to home for Alvaro in the third episode, “Blind Man’s Bluff.”

The episode’s primary investigation focuses on the abduction of two young girls. The mother’s well-heeled parents initially suspect her ex-husband, but Alvaro quickly clears his name when she discovers his dead body. Lucky him. Regardless, the actually procedural and criminal business in the installment, written by the trio of creators, are probably the most suspenseful of the first three episodes.

So far,
HIP (or HPI as it is called in France) is competently produced, but the two main characters are aggressively annoying and they have yet to develop any chemistry together. Presumably, it is coming, because the series has inspired multiple European remakes and an American version is coming to ABC.

At this point, none of the guest stars have really stood out either. Still, Carrie etc. and director Vincent Jamain (who helmed all three episodes) nicely stage Alvaro’s Cumberbatchian-Sherlockian flashes of observation and deduction. It is easily watchable and digestible, but nothing really that special. Consider it available as a time-killer, but not much more when
High Intellectual Potential starts streaming tomorrow (7/12) on Hulu.