Friday, December 13, 2019

Comic Cuts - 13 December 2019

I'm in the middle of a huge clearing-up operation that meant I was unable to get to the computer last night. There was also the minor distraction of an election.

I'm hoping to move my office out of the cold, cold ex-garage and shift it to one end of the living room. This has required a bit of planning. You might not have noticed, but I've been running down my Ebay sales from 600 or so items down to 90. That difference was mostly unsold film magazines, which have been piled up for weeks in the house but which I'll now bag and box up for storage. They were selling, but very slowly, and I need to make enough room to work out this Chinese puzzle of a move.

It's not as easy as just shifting the desk and computer. There's all my reference books that I like to have at arms length; there is the wall of books to my right that has built up until it split the office, which I use as a table (a bit teetering, but usually stable enough for anything I needed to review); there's the scanner to my left; and the boxes behind me that have been piled high with everything from folders, to books, to paperwork, to old cassettes, to trading cards, and to a cup full of old badges. I can see over the next week that I'm going to have to stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood in order to look seriously at all this clutter and decide whether to keep it (in which case it needs to find a home somewhere in the house) or bin it.

We're about to take a look at Spiral 7 and there are some spoilers ahead. Jump to the end of the column if you don't like that kind of thing.

Spiral (Engrenages) is probably the most consistent of all the imports that have appeared on BBC4 over the past few years. The latest (seventh) season of the French drama  opened with Laure Berthaud (Caroline Prust) suffering from post natal depression, having spent months in therapy. That sentence probably tells you all you need to know about the tone of the show.

The murder of Police Commissioner Herville (Nicolas Briancon) and a Chinese restaurateur, brings Laure back into the fold. Gilou Escoffier (Thierry Godard), her former partner, is now in charge of the unit, which lost Tintin (Fred Bianconi) last season, as he was unable to continue working with Laure and Gilou, whose methods are often beyond legal. Their already complex relationship has been further strained by Laure's erratic bond with her baby daughter and the baby's father, Brémont (Hubert Benhamdine).

Meanwhile, Joséphine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot) is in jail, on remand for her attempted murder of her rapist. Released, she joins a former colleague Edelman (Louis Do de Lencquesaing)  until she begins working for a businessman with ties to a money-laundering gang. In her sights is Judge Roban (Philippe Duclos), on the verge of retirement and looking for a quick result in the Herville investigation—which opens him up to some sly moves from Joséphine which might cause the investigation to fall apart.

So, with everyone thoroughly miserable one way or another, why does this series still manage to make compelling viewing. Could it actually be the soap opera element? I'd say yes.

If you've followed the show for seven series, you know what you're going to get. All of the characters are flawed: by ambition, by fear, by anger, by an overwhelming and blinding desire for justice... Mel and I cheered when Tintin turned up because he was the one member of Laure's team who spoke up and had the moral fibre to leave. That's not to say he wasn't corrupted by being in the orbit of Laure and Gilou, as has happened to Ali Amrani (Tewfik Jallab), the new boy on the block caught in the downward spiraling whirlpool that is the Herville investigation.

76 episodes into the show and I still find the drama compelling. The acting and directing are superb (although the overuse of shots in reflecting pools and puddles did become a distraction), but it is the characters that make you come back time and time again. Imperfect and driven, they seem almost duty-bound to fuck up an investigation, and then cause chaos as they try to wriggle their way out so that justice is served whatever the cost to themselves. It will be interesting to see where season eight opens (the ending I will not spoil!). And there will be a season eight as it was shot during spring and summer of this year.

1 comment:

  1. I Love Spiral as well - the 8th season has been touted as the last one. Will Laure and Gilou drive off into the sunset holding hands? I think not...



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