SERIES "Drops of God"
WHERE Streaming on Apple TV+
With the actors and writers strike of 2024 continuing, the peak TV era is officially over. But from such reversals come opportunities, especially a chance to finally catch up with those hidden gems we've all missed. There are many gems out there, and beginning today, we'll tell you about some. Our personal guarantee: They are indeed hidden, and they're terrific.
An "oenologist" is a wine expert that the website for a fancy French Bourdeaux (Château Cantenac Brown) describes as someone with an "impeccable lifestyle in order to preserve two essential tools of her trade — her nose and her palate." Now, imagine said oenologist on steroids — also with daddy issues, a writer's block, and (inconveniently) a revulsion to wine. You're getting close to the throughline of Apple TV+'s "Drops of God," one of the best series you've never heard of.
"Drops"' unfolds across two continents, and in three languages, French, Japanese and English. The leads are Fleur Geffrier, who plays Camille the oenologist-in-training, and Tomohisa Yamashita as Issei, the master taster. Both actors are celebrated in their own respective countries ("Tomo," as he's widely known in his native Japan, is more famous as a singer) but they're unknown here. Why that's so and why last April's "Drops of God '' — based on the long-running (2004-14) Japanese manga hit series of the same name — has been overlooked for so long are paradoxes of the Peak TV era. Watch this and you'll realize just how much of a paradox. Here's the set-up:
Camille Léger (Geffrier) is a Paris-based writer whose life has been put on hold,largely because she's trying to work through childhood trauma related to a demanding father who insisted she become as great a wine expert as he. Alexandre Léger (Stanley Weber) owns the world's preeminent wine collection and runs a lucrative publishing empire, the Léger Wine Guide, from his home in Tokyo. He's also on his deathbed, and needs to anoint someone to continue his glory. Should that be his estranged daughter or the Japanese protégé he trained?
Each has The Gift — an ability to sort through the most exquisitely refined wisps of flavor, nuance, "structure," acidity and tannin — but each has a problem. You already know Camille's, while Issei Tomine is bound by strict cultural and family codes. Those effectively forbid his chosen vocation.
Then, money comes into the picture. At the reading of the will, both Issei and Camille learn that Ferdinand has left a fortune. From the grave, he has also proposed a winner-takes-all test: Whomever can correctly identify three prized selections from his vast collection will become sole heir. "Wine — it is my whole life," says Issei at the outset. "I am the best at what I do, or at least I thought I was. And then I met … her." So, yes, the test will be challenging, especially for Camille who must first conquer that aversion.
"Drops" comes from French screenwriter Quoc Dang Tran who created French TV's first horror series ("Marianne," for Netflix) and a rare French sci-fi one ("Parallels," for Disney+). He's best-known for "Call My Agent!," which was an early sensation for Netflix in 2015. In a 2022 interview with the magazine Drama Quarterly, he said he was reluctant to adapt "Drops" until "I identified the theme that was underneath — that was the story I wanted to tell."
"Drops" in fact ' is really about the convergence of cultures, and an exploration of what unites them. Wine? Sure, there's lots of that, but Tran's especially interested in his human characters. and he's created a taut, elegant, flat-out fun series to explore what unites them. I love "Drops." You will too.