I was wrong to fear that the fourth series of "Spiral" would have run out of steam plot-wise. It proves compulsive viewing as ever, with at least half-a-dozen dramatic interwoven storylines, involving at one extreme an anarchist group bent on creating the "state of terror" of the title and a family of arms-smuggling Kurds, at the other touchingly naïve Judge Roban, back at his desk but ostracised by his slimy colleagues for previous abortive attempts at whistleblowing, yet determined to press on regardless out of principle.
Somewhat implausible as ever (but who cares?), driven, designer-scruffy Capitaine Laure Berthaud continues to rush about, hair escaping from its clip, T-shirt slipping off one shoulder, turning a blind eye as her male underlings beat up uncooperative suspects in the office, and screaming "Putain" on the frequent occasions when, having done an impressive job identifying a gang's rendezvous, they let the criminals escape. To be fair this is usually because they have insufficient back-up.
Also implausible yet entertaining is Pierre's continued working partnership with the seductive, talented yet unscrupulous Josephine, although at last we learn some reasons for her warped emotions. Pierre seems to be swapping one devil for another, in quitting the state legal service out of concern over its corruption only to take on as a client a notorious villain, against even Josephine's advice.
The dramatic final scenes avoid a run-of-the-mill "happy for everyone against the odds" ending. Although the key aspects of the conclusion are predictable, there are enough twists to continue the suspense to the last.
For a viewer dependent on sub-titles, the fast-moving plot requires total concentration, but the recap, "précédemment" opening each of the twelve episodes helps one to focus on the key points. Once again, I cannot imagine what the producers will pull out of the bag for what I believe is the final series, but am confident it will be good.
Every so often a really cracking police thriller film comes out of France, Spiral takes that dark edginess and puts it into a gripping thriller series of twelve episodes. There are not many series that can manage to be constantly tense and gripping for over ten hours, but this does it easily. At the heart of the story are the familiar core group of police, lawyers and officials who form part of the judicial system. The French title Engrenages, or gears, gives an idea of their interconnected nature.
The story is dark, Paris never looked greyer or less appealing, and cynical, but at heart these are people who want justice to be done, regardless of the personal cost. Although having seen previous series will enhance your enjoyment of this series, you could easily pick up this series and enjoy it. For existing fans of the series, there are some interesting reversals, and new alliances are formed. The budget this time seems larger than previous series, the camera relentlessly prowls a grey Paris, there is plenty of tension and the cast is tremendous. You never feel that this is acting, they all absolutely inhabit their roles, from crime lords to refugees, they are all fully formed characters, you feel a degree of empathy for everyone, after all everyone is a hero in their own story.
There are a variety of plots, all exciting and urgent, international terrorism underpins a few of them, but treated in a sensitive and realistic way, unlike the more sensational and jingoistic approaches of some series.
The series comes to a cracking and emotional conclusion leaving you hungry for more.
on 26 November 2012
I bought Spiral 4 in France a couple of weeks back and by using the French subtitles, and the occasional screen freeze to look up words from my French dictionary, and by utilising my school boy French, this was enough to enable me to understand the twists and turns of this amazing new series.
Great acting once again, in particualr from the two leading ladies, Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust) and Josephine Karlsson, especially Josephine's (Audrey Fleurot) unexpectedly erotic moment at the end of episode three!
Totally gripping , totally captivating, even an old love interest of Laure's from series two makes a come back in episode 7 to create some fireworks and tension in her personal life!.
I couldnt wait until February to see this after the brilliant series two and three, but if you must wait for the English version , you will not be disappointed with this taught and gripping 12 episode excitement fest. I watched two episodes every day for six days and couldnt wait for the evening to come round to watch the next installments.
Spiral is back once again for another series, and this time, we're left with some cliffhangers from series 3. Although things have been rather aggressive in their department, Bertraud and her gang are back. There's also the issues surrounding the order side too, with Karlson and the judge Robain too.
When someone is found badly injured in the the woods - Bertraud and her gang have to find out why. In the meantime, there's a guy being deported from France who has dodgy paperwork; and we have a nutter trying to cause trouble for the French authorities. Josephine has to sort out her problems and judge Robain has to find his way back into the judicial system. How they'll manage it, and at what cost you'll have to wait until the DVD is released (not giving any spoilers).
This is yet another great series from Son Et Lumiere, with the participation of BBC Four. It is always keeping you on the edge of your seat and has fascinating but bizarre storylines. Karlson is still my favourite character - alongside Gilou, who does remind me of Jean Hughes Aglade's character in Braquo, he is a bit dodgy, yet he does try to do the best for his team. Caroline Proust has never really caught my attention, I find her rude and a real moaner - panics instead of thinking rationally.
This comes on 4 DVDs in France, but I suspect you'll only get three in the UK. This is disappointing to me as it is usually compressed - whereas the image supplied by Canal+ is really good. Sadly the French edition has no English subs - so wait for the UK release if you're not ofee with our language.
Superb, thrilling and gripping, I had to have this - worth every Euro!
on 7 November 2013
My French is passable but it's sometimes hard to follow policier-speak. The subtitling of Series 4 though is just plain lazy and far too minimal.
on 13 April 2013
Elsewhere in these reviews the general theme and story lines are covered. For me there is nothing on television that comes near to these well produced, directed and acted foreign crime series. I am referring to 'The Bridge' , 'The Killing', 'Borgen', 'Spiral' and 'Braquo'
It was beginning to appear that once again Sky had cornered the market on quality drama on its Atlantic channel. With these Swedish, Danish and French series, the BBC have regained their reputation for putting out some of the most entertaining and addictive crime series on television today. Some may find that subtitles spoil their viewing, but like most things, give it a chance and you get over it, in any event it is far preferable to dubbed English soundtrack. Once you are used to it, the language becomes part of the attraction to films from different cultures.
Having seen series 1, 2 and 3 of Spiral, I could hardly wait for series 4 to become available and it continues the same gripping excitement as the others. I understand a fifth series is currently in the making, can't wait.
on 9 May 2013
Unbeatable film drama, based on real life. There was nothing I disliked about this, except that if I hadn't bought it as DVDs, I would not have been able to wait from one week to the next to see the next episode. It took over our lives for the few days that we watched the whole four series together. We could think and talk about nothing else.
It was wonderful to see unglamorous cops, scruffy, swearing continuously, disorganized much of the time, often badly supported by management, but focused, courageous and committed, none the less.
The humorous comments and throwaway remarks were brilliant. Whoever did the casting deserves accolades too, because the actors were always perfect for their parts. Just think of the faces of the characters. As for Monsieur Le Juge, he was really the thinking woman's crumpet- highly intelligent, handsome, sexy and morally upright and incorruptible.
If you enjoyed Borgen and The Killing, this is the film for you. You just cannot get better acting, script writing, casting and directing than this.
on 20 April 2013
When you have completed watching the first sequel you become hooked. The series is a suspenseful, plausible and intriguing caption of crimes so real in today's world, and the work of the police realistically depicted with little glamour and with members of the force shown with all the flaws, strengths and human qualities prevalent in society.
And it all plays in Paris, "city of lights" and dark, sinister quarters. The fast paced plot introduces several lead characters and portrays their various travails in their line of work to seek justice and pursue the bad. The density of the characters makes the people alive and 'touchable', you begin to sympathize with some and chastize others. It is for the time given to explore and delve into the depths of characters that add to the fascination of this series.
I have also purchased series 1-3, and watched #1 in "one go;" I simply couldn't stop watching. News that they are about to shoot Series V is most welcome with this ardent fan!
on 6 January 2014
I found this show by accident.
I was so impressed with the jointly produced BBC/Canal+ series, The Returned, that I went in search of other French language dramas I might have missed and found Spiral.
I came to it late but that afforded me the opportunity to watch all four seasons, back to back.
I love everything about this show - the storylines, the way they weave and keep grabbing your interest, the performances, the way it's shot.
Sometimes, in the heat of police work, the characters converse very quickly, causing the subtitles to appear on the screen for only a flash, but that's intrinsically my problem for not speaking French.
Even with my finger on the rewind button, I'm sure some of the street grit and cop talk gets lost in the subtitles.
I believe fans of the Killing or any of the other popular Scandinavian police shows, will enjoy this series, maybe even a little more.
I truly hope the rumour of a season five becomes a reality.
on 26 March 2013
Season 4 maintains the standards set by the previous 3 seasons, which means it is the best cop show on TV. Miles ahead of anything that America or Britain can offer. The cops investigate a group of a group of left wing terrorists and a Kurdish Crime family following the discovery of a blown up body. Judge Roban fights to keep his job, Gilou as usual gets himself in and out of trouble and Tintin starts to fall apart. Pierre Clement and Josephine Karlson find themselves at risk of disbarment or worse. Laure seems to have last found happiness with Vincent but we all know how long that will last.
For once at least some of the villains are white. The previous three seasons had the unfortunate situation where the bad guys were always North African or Eastern European, that is if you ignore the 'criminals' who run the legal system.
If you like good gritty crime drama then this is for you. The best thing since the wire. Role on season 5