The Forest

3 out of 5

Created by: Delinda Jacobs

Spoiler: The titular forest doesn’t really matter so much.

Actually, nor do a lot of the featured elements of The Forest, which is a supernatural-dusted police procedural involving – surprise, because it always does – missing kids.  Is that a bad thing?  Does it disrupt our viewing experience when the majority of information offered, if you take a step back, doesn’t matter to our central mystery, and could be excised to craft a sole 40-minute episode without harming our main plot?  It would, normally, but writer Delinda Jacobs and director Julius Berg also don’t dawdle on these extras; they don’t try to dress up subplots.  It’s more that The Forest takes a snapshot of a small town in which some younguns disappear, says “this is what’s happening right now,” and capturing that information happens to take up about six hours.  So you don’t feel that your time is wasted.  However, this does – for better or worse – go against the grain of TV training, and that doesn’t feel exactly like a purposeful design decision so much as a happy accident.  Thus we might expect local copper Virginie to be the main driving force for the case, since her initial dialogue is all about grounding the character and hinting to us that her “normal” life is about to get all shook up; since Ève, a teacher at the kids’ school, is introduced to us as little miss promiscuous, we’re probably thinking that’s going to play a major role in things; since Gaspard is the new police chief in town, surely that newness will be an important element that butts up against local ritual or some such…  And then it’s called The Forest, so that has to be more than just a reference to the trees surrounding the town, yeah?

Yeah, none of that’s really the case.  But again: snapshot.  And an amazingly helpful boon is that those three mentioned characters’ actors (Suzanne Clément as Virginie; Alexia Barlier as Ève; Samuel Labarthe as Gaspard) are all really fantastic and engaging, selling the notion that there are full lives beyond the confines of the show.  …Admittedly, some of the other character, such as Virginie’s husband, the same can’t be said, though perhaps there’s some meta-context to his performance being rather wooden.

Yayyy I’ll just end it on that.