Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Oh, Joy

Just as I finish catching up on the second season of the French cops’n’justice drama Engrenages (UK title: Spiral, screened on BBC4 with a credit for co-production), I see from the Canal Plus website that a third season has just wrapped filming in Paris.

Season Two was drug trafficking; in Season Three it’s a serial killer, le boucher de la Villette. With any other crime show, mention of a serial killer plot would have me rolling my eyes. But Engrenages/Spiral isn’t like any other crime show. No character panders for our favour; they’re all genuinely complex, with genuine flaws. The people that we root for often do things we can’t approve of and unlike, say, 24, the mishandling of suspects is without any suggested heroic quality.

Best of all, it’s a show that doesn’t feel like it’s been pieced-together out of used-up TV.

Season Two was never going to be able to match the freshness and impact of the first, which I think I’ve watched three times now, but it still managed to build to a corker of a finale.

5 responses to “Oh, Joy”

  1. Brilliant, wasn’t it? The closest thing to compare Spiral to is, I guess, The Wire, insomuch that it doesn’t go for the easy/obvious option and continually defies expectations. What I love about the show is that after watching the first couple episodes of each series all the assumptions I made in terms of where the characters and plot were completely wrong.

    Interesting to see that the third series runs to twelve episodes instead of the usual eight. I can’t wait.

  2. I am mid-way through season two of SPIRAL and my feelings are much the same as yours. I'm enjoying it…but not quite as much as season one. I also don't know why they've totally ignored the season one cliff-hanger (what was the story behind the body in the bushes? What was the secret the judge wanted to share with the prosecutor? What happened with the corrupt minister?)


  3. Here's a confession; I love Spiral and I've seen no better movie this year than Audiard's prison crime drama A Prophet, but I don't get The Wire. I believe I can understand what others see in it, enough to make me try three times to get into it myself; the first time my energies flagged after five episodes, the second I made it to eight before I conceded that this relationship just wasn't working.

    Since it's confession time I might as well say that I don't get Harry Potter, either. Shocked a few of my American coworkers with that one.

  4. Zoinks!! Are you allowed to say that?

    Admit that out in public and it’ll be akin to Veronica Cartwright at the end of Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    I think the Harry Potter series is great for young kids because it has got them reading and actually using their imagination rather than doing… well, whatever the little tykes do now. But that’s about as far as it goes. Hopefully it’s the first step towards other, better, material. And an adult reading the books is fine if they’re reading it to their children before lights out at the end of the day.

    But when you see people reading the books on the tube or the train… that’s so not right.