Sunday, February 5, 2012

Javert & Vautrin: Best Buddy Cop Series Ever

They already have matching hats!
Javert (L, by Gustave Brion) & Vautrin (R, by Honore Daumier)

Sometimes you get an idea that's just genius, you know? Well, it recently hit me: Victor Hugo's Javert from Les Miserables and Honore de Balzac's Vautrin from his Human Comedy series need to be in a buddy cop TV show. They're both policemen, their time periods overlap, and despite both being inspired by real-life criminal-turned-officer Eugene Francois Vidocq, they're perfect foils who would have hilarious (if cliched) buddy cop adventures.

Javert: the no-nonsense, humorless straight-arrow. Dour, but devoted to his work. He cares about justice, dammit. The Starsky. The Special Agent Albert Rosenfield. Definitely playing the Bad Cop in the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine.

Vautrin: the cool badass who's also the comic relief. A master criminal who is now a corrupt officer. The honey badger personified. Gregarious, manly, livin' large, with a weakness for hot guys that's always landing him in hot water. Yes, he's gay. Man, there hasn't been a macho, kick-ass, openly gay main character in a major work of mainstream entertainment since...uh...1835? When Vautrin debuted?

Yet Dumbledore, in the 21st Century, had to be an after-the-fact secret.

How it would pan out: Javert's spotless record is tarnished when he finally gets in trouble with the force (probably for being way too obsessed with something trivial, like a freakin' bread thief). To "rein him in," the boss pairs him up with always-in-trouble-and-doesn't-give-a-shit Vautrin, who is on his last chance. At first they fight all the time! Javert thinks Vautrin is a untrustworthy dunce! Vautrin thinks Javert is an uptight killjoy! But then during a major crime (perhaps a small child is in peril?) they have to work together and end up with grudging admiration for the other's strengths. Pretty much every episode repeats this very important lesson.

And of course there would be guest cameos by other literary characters. Imagine them crossing paths with Notre-Dame de Paris's Clopin! Obviously Javert would be completely appalled by him, while Vautrin would think he's the most awesome ever. Maybe after Clopin saves the day, Javert learns an important lesson about judging people. Or maybe after Vautrin starts neglecting his partnership with Javert for fun illegal times with Clopin, he is betrayed by his new pal, and learns an important lesson about true friendship. So many possibilities!

Okay, so actually it would just be every buddy cop series ever...except French! And with a cast of characters that partially reflects sexual diversity among humans! And with snuff and courtesans!


  1. Don't forget the whole "I'm-of-Roma-ancestry-but-have-internalized-oppression" thing Javert has going on—it would definitely complicate a Clopin plot thread.

    1. Yes! So much to explore! This also is the one this that annoys me about the Russell Crowe casting.

  2. Can we also stick Mademoiselle Michonneau in there please? Sure Vautrin night hold a bit of a grudge against her,but won't she be irreplaceable in so many situations...a spy for inst.,as long they don't trust her too much-since this lady keeps her own counsel.