The bearded hiker knows how to handle rough terrain. He climbs nimbly over rock or cliff faces. He also scales difficult human relations with equal ease and know-how. His nickname, after all, is “Kindness.”
Alex Hugo (Samuel Le Bihan) is a longtime police officer who has fled big-city Marseilles for the elegant and treacherous ridges of the Hautes Vallées—aka, the French Alps. Here he finds freedom. Hugo is an artist too, and we see his rapid sketches capture clues and memories.
In early episodes, his sketches come alive under the unexpected brush of magical realism. Hugo works closely with his Rural Police partners, Angelo Batalla (Lionnel Astier) and Renart (Mikael Fitoussi). This team shows fierce loyalty and depth as they serve—despite the community contempt they face.
If the script is uneven at times, I forgive it. The story depth made this easy. There’s a freshness here of truth and tenderness. There’s a spiritually attuned writer somewhere behind the scenes. I noticed repeated religious symbolism—a “presence,” I’d say.
This French series began in 2014 as Alex Hugo. The PBS Masterpiece Prime platform now offers a slice of it: one season.
We need a poet to describe Mountain Detective’s scenery. Yes, the sculpted Alps, the valleys slung low and green, the hardy European cabins and villages. Each episode carried me into delighted awe.
The show also widened my awareness of international issues as the Rural Police lamented about desperate refugees “crossing the Alps in flip-flops.”
Le Bihan, an award-winning pro, exudes quiet gravity as he plays this cop who carries along with his backpack the heavy weight of trauma.
Viewer discretion is advised. PG-13 estimated rating with coarse language at times. Two episodes had brief nudity and sensual themes. In French with English subtitles. (PBS Masterpiece Prime Video)