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French in Action: Mireille, Robert, et Pierre Capretz aussi!


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#1

Quag

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Posted Mar 31, 2004 @ 10:50 AM

J'adore cette serie!

In college in '89/'90, my French professor, a Paris native, used this series to teach French. She worshiped the ground Monsieur Capretz walked on and oh la la-ed about how awful teaching French was until French in Action.

Now it comes on the public education channel along with Destinos (Spanish), Dragon's Tongue (Chinese), Fokus Deustch (German), and Connect With English (ESL). I have to admit, this is an incredibly fun, easy method of teaching/learning another language. The format is similar to Destinos, though FIA precedes Destinos and the other series by about 3 or 4 years. Though dated now, FIA still holds my interest; and I feel that I'm really learning. It has its own website, too.

I've heard talk of the FIA series being updated and given a fresh look, but I haven't seen any signs of it. I know the books and workbooks have been given an updated look and more material added, and the series is now on DVD, I think. I'm still stuck with the videos, unfortunately, but it's better than nothing.

Any FIA fans out there wanna express your love for Robert, Mireille, Marie-Laure, Tante Georgette, Hubert, Monsieur Capretz, and the Stranger in Black?

#2

Edwin F. Sneller

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Posted Mar 31, 2004 @ 12:36 PM

Is this the show with the dancing pineapple, or another one?

I was thinking of Telefrancais

Edited by Edwin F. Sneller, Apr 12, 2004 @ 10:34 AM.


#3

IvySpice

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Posted Mar 31, 2004 @ 1:04 PM

Oh, I've been watching Mireille and Marie-Laure for years, along with my best friend! She took a FIA-based intro course in college, and has done some research into digging up examples of Mireille's career in French porn. She turned up some naked pics on the Internet pretty quick. Mireille's been a bad, bad girl...maybe that's what Robert is into.

As the youngest in my family, who always had to tag along after my big sisters, I always identified more with Marie-Laure.

#4

Quag

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Posted Mar 31, 2004 @ 6:30 PM

done some research into digging up examples of Mireille's career in French porn. She turned up some naked pics on the Internet pretty quick. Mireille's been a bad, bad girl


I had heard about this, too; but I didn't have any proof. Glad I didn't do too much research on that bit of news on my computer at work! *whew!* I also heard the actress playing Mireille died in a motorcycle accident. That hasn't been confirmed, though.

#5

Falls

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Posted Apr 13, 2004 @ 2:06 PM

I think my French prof had us watch these videos too. Did Mireille carry a large purse or bag with her?

#6

Sunday Moon

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Posted Apr 13, 2004 @ 3:57 PM

Holy crap! We watched these in college French (94-95) and one night I was flipping through the channels and lo and behold there were Mireille and Ousmanne. My French prof. was full fledged French and loved the Capretz method. I remember the weird music that they played at the beginning. I also remember "la bibli-, "la biblioteque." I remember too much. Also, Ousmanne was always at the library.
"Ca va? Ca va. Au revoir. Au revoir, mademoiselle!"
I think I'm having a flashback.

Edited by Sunday Moon, Apr 13, 2004 @ 3:59 PM.


#7

clichekitty

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 1:32 PM

This is so weird! I was just watching this show last night and wondering if anyone else here did, too! So funny.

I've been watching this on and off for about fifteen years, and in three different cities and I still absolutely HATE! Robert (I think that's his name). Il est l'etudiant smug dans la classe, avec le cheveau brun, qui responds a chaque question avec bitchface! HAINE! (I don't know how to do diacritical notes).

#8

Caramelle

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Posted Apr 18, 2004 @ 9:41 PM

We used this in my French class last year at community college. I also hated Robert. He definitely had major French-wannabe bitchface. And Mirielle's beauty was overrated.

#9

Quag

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Posted Apr 22, 2004 @ 10:06 AM

Did Mireille carry a large purse or bag with her?


Yep, and she also wore those nasty looking white pumps everywhere; but then again, it was the late 80s, so there you go.

Robert is Mireille's love interest, not the obnoxious student in Professeur Capretz's class. That distinction goes to Michael, the French wannabe who serves the solitary purposes of moving the plot along and allowing Prof. Capretz to teach in French instead of English. I saw that in the study guide.

Anyway, je deteste Michael. Or at least I did the first time I saw the series. Now I just cringe slightly until he's off my screen.

HAINE!


ETA that this? made me laugh so hard. Clichekitty, I didn't recognize this at first; but this is Shack's trademark HATE, only in French, right?

Hi-lare!

Edited by Quag, Apr 22, 2004 @ 10:11 AM.


#10

clichekitty

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Posted Apr 23, 2004 @ 12:16 AM

Quag, So that's that little bastard's name! For some reason, I called him Robert. I have hated him for so, so long!

And yes, that's HATE! in French. If only I could speak other languages so I could scream HATE! with flair.

#11

espie

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Posted Apr 23, 2004 @ 7:14 AM

J’adore French in Action! I loved French classes in high school and for about 20 years I’ve been looking for something I could do on my own that would help me review what I remember and also learn some new stuff; I found FIA thanks to my local PBS station. I like it because it gives you real, useful French dialogue instead of the stunted, ridiculous stuff the textbooks used back in the 70’s when I was first learning the language. You can bet nobody ever said “Merde!” in a French textbook back then!

When I ran the actors’ names through the IMDb I found that mention of Mireille’s dabble in porn… eh bien, c’est la vie. I also notice that the young man who was the obnoxious French student in the classroom scenes (not Robert; that was the American in France who was obnoxious in his own right) played the young Russell Johnson in the “flashback” scenes of the TV movie “Surviving Gilligan’s Island”… I remember watching that guy for two hours thinking “where the heck have I seen him before?”, and never in a million years would I have realized he was the smart aleck cracking wise with Capretz.

The one I always wanted off the screen was Tante Georgette... something about her voice did not agree with the nerves in my spinal cord. Owwww......

#12

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Posted Apr 24, 2004 @ 8:31 PM

Heh, I spent many a studious hour with FIA only to get to this thread and realize that I barely remember it at all. I always kinda hated Marie-Laure, except she used to say "Mystere, mystere, et boule de gomme" all the time, which I still use from time to time because it makes no sense. Anybody remember what the "plot" was?

#13

Quag

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Posted Apr 25, 2004 @ 12:51 PM

Anybody remember what the "plot" was?


In order to teach his class French, Professor Capretz convinces his students to create a story that would interest them and would be useful in learning French. The story won't be a police drama or a science fiction story. No. It will be a romance, starring a French young woman (Mireille) and a American young man (Robert); and it would be a boy-meets-girl story.

The students would create friends and family for the couple (Ousmaine, Collette, Marie Laure, Tante Georgette, Tonton Guillaume, Hubert, etc.) and come up with adventures out the wazoo for them to get into.

A mime helps with learning French grammar and mimes people--to my continued irritation. There's also a mystery man in black (and it's not Johnny Cash). This is what prompts Marie Laure to state, "Mystere, mystere, et boule de gomme," which pertains to the mysterious dude and her obsessive love for gum balls (which always made me crave candy in my French class).

Michael, the obnoxious guy in class is the classmate everyone loves to hate, with his sneers, smirks, and utter assiness; but he moves the plot along because the other poor students are so bad at French, Monsieur Capretz would have no one to talk to.

Each ep ends with a Punch and Judy-style puppet show. I always found it funny and very un-PC. Once, one of the puppets wailed the daylights out of the puppet that resembles Mireille. *sigh* Good times!

#14

bmills

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Posted Apr 25, 2004 @ 5:07 PM

I wasn't interested in instruction in French, but I did get caught up in this show from time to time because of the human story. Would Mireille succeed in her courageous and scenic one-woman crusade to eradicate brassieres? My, uh, heart goes out to her.

Edited by bmills, Apr 25, 2004 @ 5:08 PM.


#15

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Posted Apr 25, 2004 @ 11:51 PM

Quag

I swear after years of watching this, I never quite got the story. Thanks for explaining it. Of course, it doesn't help that I never watched FIA consistently, so I never followed the story. And when you watch it like that, it's like Learning French the Schizoprenic Way.

In Today's lesson we'll learn about boats and segue into a cemetary and then a love story and then the verb faire, and then subjunctive verbs in the passe simple form, and then, Punch and Judy. Fin.

More than anything, it cracks me up more than it teaches me.

ETA, Michael is listed as the Obnoxious French Student on IMDB. That's funny

Edited by clichekitty, Apr 25, 2004 @ 11:58 PM.


#16

sugarfreekelli

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Posted Apr 30, 2004 @ 12:48 AM

OMG, so that's what the show is!

About a month ago, my mom and I sat down to lunch in front of the tv. There was absolutely nothing on, so we went up and down the channel lineup, only to discover that we are actually insane enough to watch an old show entirely in French with *mimes*, no less, and for a whole hour. I had no idea what it was and I actually thought I might have been hallucinating, it was that weird. I never actually thought I'd find out what it was! Wow.

Now I sort of want to watch it again.

#17

Z.Beeblebrox

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Posted May 9, 2004 @ 3:03 PM

I used to watch this show hoping to pick up some words. Never did.

#18

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Posted May 9, 2004 @ 4:10 PM

I watched this series back in high school of all places. I also had a soft spot for Marie-Laure, because despite her mystère et boules de gomme, she always had some snark ready whenever she was allowed to say it (Comparing Mireille to Cro-Magnon Man, etc.).

And of course, Prof. Capretz was always such a loon! C'est distingué, n'est-ce pas? His silly bouncing around like an electrified weasel always added a little something to the series.

Discutez!

ETA: Because good grammar is a good ideal in all languages.

Edited by Kergillian, May 9, 2004 @ 4:16 PM.


#19

Evian

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Posted May 13, 2004 @ 9:18 PM

There's also a mystery man in black (and it's not Johnny Cash).


Heh.

Thanks for explaining the plot! In college, I never quite figured out why the Mystery Man was chasing them around France, listening to Robert and Mireille and their captivating conversations about whether they should address one another with vous or tu.

I appreciated Marie-Laure's snark, but her voicealways killed me -- the constant "Waaaahhhh". And because of Mireille, I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a yellow, cable-knit sweater again!

#20

Rachael

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Posted May 16, 2004 @ 11:33 PM

I love all the characters, even Jean-Pierre. Although Michael gets on my nerves because he's too much like me. I always blurt things out in class without thinking, because everyone else is too slow.

Gosh, how arrogant of me.

#21

espie

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Posted May 17, 2004 @ 12:29 PM

I just got back from spending a week in Paris. True experience: the afternoon of Thursday May 13 I was wandering around the Latin Quarter, I turned a corner, and there was Le Home Latin, Robert's hotel! I never in a million years would have thought it was a real place, but there it was, in rue de Sommerard just like it says in the series. So, like the dorky tourist that I am, I got out my camera and took pictures. For the rest of the day I half-expected to see l'Homme en Noir sitting at a sidewalk cafe hiding behind his newspaper... bizarre, bizarre...

By the way, I was easily able to ask for and understand directions, chat with desk clerks and cab drivers and waiters, and generally impress the non-French-speaking friends I was traveling with who apparently didn't expect me to be anywhere near as capable in the language as I turned out to be. Merci, Monsieur Capretz!

#22

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Posted May 18, 2004 @ 12:06 AM

Espie, that is fucking AWESOME! If I ever get a chance to go back to Paris, I am totally looking for FIA locations.

#23

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Posted May 18, 2004 @ 10:12 AM

Mystère et boules de gomme.

OK, that was completely random; but WOW espie, how great was that to check out a FIA haunt.

The location I most want to see are the different nationality/international dorms at the La Cite International Universite de Paris. Go here to jog your memory.

Edited by Quag, May 18, 2004 @ 10:12 AM.


#24

Rachael

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Posted May 20, 2004 @ 7:19 PM

Marie-Laure was my favorite character. I thought she was funny.

By the way, the mime's name was Jean-Claude. He acted out words for you, if the pictures and repititions weren't enough.

#25

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Posted Jun 1, 2004 @ 3:18 PM

Okay, there are no words to describe how hard I'm laughing right now.

We had to watch French in Action in high school and the only thing I really remember learning from it is pas de tout! Uh, I mean, the usage of the phrase, not that that phrase is correctly used in the above sentence. But the guys in class always looked forward to it because Mireille n'a pas porte un brassiere. I think I've flicked past it a few times on PBS, but now I really want to see it. The mime was absolument fantastique.

I'd totally open a thread for the Russian version of the "Learning Language through Soaps" phenomenon, but I'm probably the only person who's actually seen it. Plus I don't remember what it was called. But it was totally kickass, involving two sisters fighting over an ugly American who lives with a stranger family in a kvar-TEEER-a v Mosk-VYEH (apartment in Moscow), and one episode that consists almost entirely of counting luggage at Sheremetevo airport. Wheeee!

Edited by RedSonja, Jun 1, 2004 @ 3:19 PM.


#26

PopCultDiva

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Posted Jun 2, 2004 @ 7:23 PM

I used to watch this show hoping to pick up some words. Never did.


You had to pay attention to the pictures. Thanks to the scene of people trying to run into crashing waves, I will remember the meaning of the word bouleversé (overturned, overwhelmed, something like that).

#27

Sara M

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Posted Jun 8, 2004 @ 1:11 PM

Does anyone remember the episode where Robert and Mireille went to some old couple's house and ate, like, a ten-course meal?

My favorite character was the oft-mentioned, if never seen, uncle with the crazy eyes.

#28

Quag

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Posted Jun 9, 2004 @ 8:57 AM

Does anyone remember the episode where Robert and Mireille went to some old couple's house and ate, like, a ten-course meal?


Would that be Monsieur and Madame Courtois? I think the reason I remember the couple Courtois and their ten-course meal is because that's when Monsieur Courtois is called a bon vivant.

#29

Sara M

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Posted Jun 9, 2004 @ 9:01 PM

They also threw the word "gastronomie" around a lot when they talked about him. I always thought that was the polite way of calling someone "fat" in French.

#30

areacode212

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Posted Jun 13, 2004 @ 10:42 PM

Wow, I haven't seen this show since 7th grade (1989). I was always a terrible French student, but I've always had fond, fond memories of watching this in class, mainly because of one....er, two things:

But the guys in class always looked forward to it because Mireille n'a pas porte un brassiere.


*sigh*, les bons temps....

Mireille's career in French porn.


Est-il ce vrai ou non? J'aime Mireille beaucoup!! Great, I really wanted to go to bed now, but I can't just read this and NOT go off to Google.

the series is now on DVD, I think.


Looks like I'm heading to amazon.com as well.

ETA: The actress who played Mireille is named Valérie Allain
ETA 2: Well, that was easy. First off, it sounds like the "death of Mireille" rumor was just an urban legend, since she's done French TV as recently as 1999 (though I guess it doesn't rule out an accident since then).

As for the DVDs, they ARE available from Annenberg/CPB...for $500 (pack of 12 DVDs)!!! Zut alors!!. Still, I must own these somehow, mainly for the Mireille factor, but I really am interested in taking French again.

Finally, fleshbot.com has links to pics of the boobies that only Robert got to look at. I'll leave it as an exercise to you to find them, if any of you are interested. Bonne chance!

Edited by areacode212, Jun 13, 2004 @ 11:35 PM.