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Season 1, episode 17
Series 117
1st release: 04/17/00
2nd release:
Production number:
Approximate shooting dates:
Last update: 08-02-00

SYNOPSIS by Lady Jane Gray
COMMENTARY by Lady Jane Gray

Tia Carrere (Dr. Sydney Fox)
Christien Anholt (Nigel Bailey)
Lindy Booth (Claudia)

Ed Stoppard (Laurent Halezan)
Melanie Maudran (Arielle)
Miglen Mirtchev (Mischa)
Andreas Apergis (Professor Dupuys)
Susana Vasseur (Queen Marie-Antoinette)
Julien Lambroschini (Jerome Halezan)

Written by Marin Brossollet
Directed by Paolo Barzman

Filmed on location in Toronto, Canada and Paris, France by Fireworks Entertainment Inc. and Gaumont Television. Executive producers: Jay Firestone and Adam Haight; Executive consultant: Gil Grant; Co-executive producers: Christian Charret, Denis Leroy, and Rob Gilmer.


With cutthroats after them, Sydney and Nigel (Tia Carrere, Christien Anholt) race through Parisian catacombs to find a very special wine bottle -- one that may contain the lost French crown jewels.

Une découverte inat tendue: un parchemin caché à l'intérieur d'un cheval en bois du temps de Louis XVI divulgue un secret. Jérome Halezan, longtemps considéré comme l'amant de Marie-Antoinette, aurait caché une couronne dans une bouteille de vin, fabriquée par lui-même. La chasse au trésor commence_ Ainsi, Sydney et Nigel sont à la recherche de ces fameux voleurs_.


The unexpected discovery of a scroll hidden inside a toy horse once belonging to Louis XVII sparks a transcontinental mission to recover the lost crown jewels of France. The handwritten message points Sydney and Nigel to Chateau Halezan, a winery built and founded by Jerome Halezan, long considered to have been Marie-Antoinette's lover. It's possible Halezan hid the jewels in a wine bottle. If so, is searching for a bottle of wine in France akin to looking for a needle in a haystack? The treasure hunt, quickly turning into a wild goose chase, winds through a Parisian black market and the city's famed underground catacombs, in addition to pitting Sydney and Nigel against petty thieves and dangerous crime lords alike.


This synopsis is by Lady Jane Gray.

A Bad Week

For the Bourbons, though a happy one for Relic Hunter fans. First, the news from France: scientific proof of the fate of Louis VIII, offspring of deposed and executed Bourbon royals Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The dauphin, long thought to have been smuggled out of prison by royalists, is now known to have died, at the age of ten, still in prison. A grim end, almost a living death, imprisoned, entombed under what is now the Champs Eleysee.

Life under the surface glitter of Paris forms the theme of this week's Relic Hunter. A Good Year episode marks RH's first comedy - a mix of light slapstick and sophisticated wordplay. They say timing is everything, in love and comedy; it's fun to watch this episode and observe how the synergy between Nigel and Sydney builds and maintains comic momentum.

But let Sydney tell it. She spins her globe and she takes us to . . .

The private quarters of Marie Antoinette in the Palais Royale. Buxom, bewigged, beribboned and very clearly upset, she hurriedly pries jewels from a crown, places them in a silver-chased box. A young man enters (Jerome Halezan) to inform her that the king and the dauphin have already been captured; a carriage awaits: she must flee with him, now, to his family vineyard.

Queenly, determined, she refuses but entrusts him with the box: "Guard this with your life. When my son is old enough to rule, he will come for it." A brief lovers' kiss; Jerome hurries away, while the queen sits, awaiting the appearance of the mob at her door. Below ground, Jerome funnels the jewels into a bottle of Chateau Halezan; the vintage of the bottle is 1792. The long reign of the kings of France is ended.

But, back to the present. Autumn chill seems to have taken Trinity College, though one wouldn't know it from Claudia's micro-mini dress. Squirming in her chair, she informs Nigel that the needle didn't hurt and it was totally worth it. Nigel plays along, asking with excitement 'You got a tattoo?' and then with equal excitement, mimicking Claudia, 'Why on earth would you get a tattoo?" Nigel 2, Claudia zip.

His victory, as usual, is based on mutual incomprehension: 'Because, Nigel, that's what cool people do in the millennium.' It's an Egyptian fertility symbol; she asks if would he like to see it, hiking her skirt even higher up her thigh . . . to the delight of an entering French man, who would very much enjoy seeing it. Alas, it was not to be: Sydney enters, greeting him with obvious delight and Gallic kisses. But Gerard, old friend, in his early forties and the very picture of a French academic, a professor from Le Louvre, has no time for pleasantries: there's been an important discovery, and he needs Syd's help.

From his briefcase, a toy horse, on wheels, a gift from Marie Antoinette to her son, Louis the VXII (Claudia: 'Boy, did she have a lot of kids.). But it's more than a toy; there's a secret compartment, holding a tiny scroll: Syd motions and Nigel yields up his reading glasses. Her delight and excitement are clear, as Gerard reveals that the tiny parchment holds a clue to the whereabouts of the missing crown jewels of Marie Antoinette.

In the next scene, Nigel's got the message whiteboarded for us:

But the locksmith and the shepherdess
Inquired of their child's distress
Just and kind one, please remember
On to hidden treasure, my little baker
Under the keeps of a true winemaker.

Syd, now with her own glasses, identifies 'locksmith' as Louis XVI, who played with them as a child; Gerard offers that Marie Antoinette liked to play at being a shepherdess; the treasure must be the jewels and the winemaker Jerome Halezan, one-time stableboy but later the queen's lover and a vintner. Claudia suggests the jewels were hidden in a bottle of wine, and we're off to Paris, to locate the Halezan estate.

Which has seen better days: the chateau is for sale; Nigel reads out 'no trespassing'. But, Syd reminds him, "When has that ever stopped us?' The Relic Hunter theme accompanies their walk to the main entrance, Syd looking very continental in a black camelhair overcoat, sunlight tinting her hair with reds and browns. A twenty-something girl on bike delivers bread, eggs and cheese, informing them that the last remaining Halezan is selling off the estate, piece by piece, and that he'll see no-one. With a captivating 'au revoir' she's off and they're inside.

The chateau is apparently in the last stages of being sold: vast paneled rooms empty, sparse furniture dust-cloth covered. Shotgun blasts from a young, angry owner interrupt their inspection, Syd asks, quite nicely, if he'll put the gun down but, as she turns with exasperation to Nigel, 'Why does it always have to be like this?' Nigel replies, 'I wish I knew' and a moment later, Syd's upended the shotgun barrel, slammed the young man in the face and back against the steps. She turns away, shotgun in hand 'I could really use a cup of coffee right now.'

At a local caf‚, the Halezan scion scoffs at the suggestion that his ancestor had anything to do with Marie Antoinette or the crown jewels. Asked if there might be any heirlooms, anything passed down, he denies it but he stops eating. Syd and Nigel may look around for themselves, but not today. And then he really must run, leaving his meal unfinished, his wine untouched.

Meanwhile, back at the chateau, Halezan, his breath frosted by the chill of the wine cellar, holds a 1792 vintage bottle up to the light. Unbeknownst to him, the upper rooms are being searched; when he does return upstairs, he's met by two thugs. Protesting that he'd have the money on Saturday, he's dragged outside and beaten systematically. Downstairs, the thief has found the bottle. It is a dark time for the forces of archaeology, but Syd and Nigel rush . . . Syd rushes to his rescue. A few kicks, a judo flip and a well-placed punch and the thugs rush off.

Laurant Halezan refuses to discuss what the thugs wanted, and Syd presses him: he knows where the crown jewels are. Laurant attempts to fool her with a 1910 vintage, but gives in, shows her . . . the empty spot where the 1792 bottle had been. While Syd and Nigel block his exit, he explains that yes, he has gambling debts but the thugs couldn't have taken the wine and oh, look: some other bottles are missing. He swears that the bottle is a family treasure, passed down through the generations with strict instructions not to sell it; it is a matter of family honeur. No-one believes him, until Syd spots the delivery girl's shopping list; then we're off to the market, locating her at a caf‚. She's observed a distance until a bottle of Chateau Halezan is produced from her bag; as the waiter prepares to extract the cork Nigel, Laurant and Syd make a mad dash, Nigel winning by ten feet, crashing onto the table, the bottle arcing towards . . . Halezan; no it's Sydney, Sydney takes the pass . . . it's a 1924 vintage. The very model of no regrets, the girl tells Laurant that the other bottle, she gave to her sister, to sell at the flea market.

Cut to the market; cute scene at the market as Laurant, Sydney and Nigel peek from behind a statue, a mime in back of them. Then it's another run through mimes, jugglers, street people, before the bottle can be sold, but Laurant snatches the bottle, runs off, hides in a pizza van. But . . . 'Allo, milktoast. Where is your Amazon now? I think we need to finish your beating' but as he's dragged off, Syd spots him, takes the pass, hands it off to Nigel. The judo moves don't work this time, but traditional boxing does. Alas, a man in a truly awful blue tie emerges from a Porsche, holding a very large and ostentatious 45, asks if she can also stop a speeding bullet.

Now there are, of course, only a seven 'criminal' stereotypes that screenwriters are actually allowed to use. Unfortunately for us, this one is the type who likes to laugh unconvincingly at his own jokes. He drives off, taking the bottle to sell at auction; we discover 'He's one of the biggest crimelords in Paris.'

Nigel(uncomprehending, astounded): This is who you borrow money from?
Laurant(tres Gallic): He's an old friend of the family.
Sydney: So you must know where he lives.
Nigel(uncomprehending, astounded): Syd! He's one of the biggest crimelords in Paris!
Sydney(casual, distracted): Yeah, I know. C'mon.

At the crimelords palace, built in 1785 for the head of Napoleon's secret police, a sinister palace guarded by twisted iron gates, just on Rue Madame(take Port d'Orleans to St. Sulpice). I have a confession: until I looked it up on a map, I thought they just filmed the episode in, say Quebec. Oh, sure: the occasional street sign looks Parisian, but cynic that I was . . . I abase myself: they say it's in Paris, it is in Paris.

Laurant: It is completely impenetrable.
Nigel: Where have I heard that before?
Sydney: It was built for the head of Napoleon's secret police. It has got to have another entrance.
Nigel: Where have I heard that before?

Irritated glance from Sydney . . . and we're at the catacombs, a network of tunnels paralleling the streets. It's at least 1500 yards from the entrance to Rue Madame; along the way we see rats, skeletons, guards and lovers ('A favorite spot' Laurant assures us). The side branch is bricked up, but Laurant just happens to have a crowbar. The next obstacle is a chained ironwork gate; Laurant warns Sydney to step back, but Nigel remarks 'Actually it would be better if you stood back. You'll see' and Syd kicks it open. Next, Nigel finds an inscription in stone; bending over to read 'tete' Syd pulls him back just before he loses his to a guillotine. Up an enclosed narrow staircase (Sydney, looking back, 'Guys?') and they're in. An ornate palace, ornately decorated with copies of famous works; trying to remain undetected, Nigel cakewalks across polished ivory floors; in the end Laurant and Syd carry him to the crimelord's library. They're looking for a safe; find it concealed in a closet of clothes kept for the mistress of the week. A bit of safecracking on Syd's part, and they're in a room, guarded they know by laser detectors. Syd sends Nigel back to the library for a cigar('Cuban? Honduran?' 'Doesn't matter.' 'Churchill? Robusto?' 'Doesn't matter'. 'I don't smoke' Syd looks at him; he looks daggers back, but . . . ) and they're able to crawl under the beams now visible in the smoke of the cigar. While Nigel tries to retch, he notes - notes: dollars, francs; from the look of it, an entire forgery operation. Syd finds the bottle, and Laurant runs off with it, tripping the alarms. Though he escapes, Nigel and Sydney are trapped as steel shutters descend, closing off the library.

Nigel notices that one row of books is slightly askew from another: a secret passage. They make their escape just in time to join Laurant, the crimelord and his henchmen. This time, they have to die, for they've seen too much of his operation. He leaves our heroes to the henchman, taking the bottle - off to an exclusive wine auction.

Tossed about by ungentle henchies, Syd fakes a sprained ankle, giving her the room to place her kicks. Laurant and Nigel enfold one reeling baddy in a drape; Syd finishes off the other. Nigel remarks they'll never get in the auction dressed as they are, and it's back to the library.

The men sit, facing away from Sydney, bored while she tosses about what must be every tacky dress in Paris. Rushing down an avenue, the men in tuxes and Sydney in a fetching red number, the camera cuts between our heroes desperate for a cab, and the wine auction. The Yamamoto corporation is just about to snap it up for a paltry $90,000 when Syd enters the bidding. It's tense, but the Japanese consortium drops out at $200,000. It's Syd's . . . when Laurant springs a surprise $300, 000 bid and captures the bottle. 'Family honor' he explains.

Crimelord has by now understood that there must be something actually inside the bottle, and tries anything to cancel the sale. But no - the only possibility is that Laurant cannot prove his ability to honor his bid. And of course he cannot; he makes a show of searching for his checkbook, but alas.

They'll have to take cash, great wads of it, the forgeries, and the crimelord of course cannot risk challenging the payment. Laurant has the bottle at last . . . and he runs from the room, leaving Sydney, Nigel and a surprised auction room behind.

They find him again at the chateau, decanting the wine by candlelight, three glasses set. He refuses to be hurried, insists that they enjoy the wine - 1792 was after all a very good year. At last, they come to bottom. No jewels. He Laurant can't understand why Jerome set such great store by the wine - it wasn't that good a year. Syd suggests there might have been two bottles, but no! There was even a family story; his great grandfather tried to sell the wine, to refinance the winery after a disastrous year, but his wife pulled a gun on him, never trusted him again. Syd reads the true meaning of the myth: the true bottle must have been switched with another, in case grandfather ever tried to sell it again. And the switch must have been done in grandmother's time; that would be the 1910 vintage that Laurant had tried to deceive them with at the very beginning. They peel back the label, revealing Chateau Halezan 1792. Laurant grabs the bottle, runs . . . "just kidding." Decanted, the jewels sit, sparkling clear after all the centuries.

Back at Trinity, Claudia rushes in wit a paper copy of the tattoo she got. It looks rather like the Prince formerly known as unpronounceable glyph and Nigel just hates to tell her while it looks rather like the Egyptian symbol of fertility, it's actually Assyrian. A similar culture, of course, and . . . 'What does it mean?' 'Marketplace' Claudia rushes out to have the tattoo removed and Sydney ask Nigel if he's going to tell Claudia that he made all that up. No . . but just then an idea hits her: they could let her worry about it, overnight.

The episode ends in shared laughter, and a quick gesture: Nigel two points.


This commentary is by Lady Jane Gray.

The peasant mob demands: Liberte! Egalite! Critique!


Sydney and Nigel. There's a closeness - I'd say intimacy, but it'd be misunderstood. It's clearest when Sydney wordlessly demands Nigel's reading glasses, and he understands. A sense of being in things together, with others, Laurant, Claudia on the outside. It fits in well with the humor of the episode, Nigel providing a light running commentary on what to expect from Sydney.

Gerard: an older man with whom Syd has a strong relationship. But not, for once, one of her exes. Maybe he's just too nice?

Strong on palatial values. Marie Antoinette's rooms, the Halezar chateau, the crimelords getaway: all radiate authenticity. I thought I was in Versailles or Le Louvre.

No naked or semi-naked bimbos. The women in the episode had a reason for being there, and for being dressed as they were.

Fight scenes. I did get a bit tired of the trouncing of the henchmen, but the scenes were well choreographed and look authentic.

No moralizing. A brief 'the jewels belong to the French people; they were only entrusted to the Halezan family for safekeeping' the episode is sermon-free. Usually, the episodes have some moral: as Syd has said, relics tell us the story of who we are. Laurant believes his family to have been nothing; Jerome a mere stableboy, and his gambling, dismissal of the past is in keeping with his low self esteem. We meet him as victim, but by the end he's able to beat the crimelord at his own game. And he recovers a sense of pride, of family honor.


More Paris. Please.

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