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Spiral, Series 6 Finale, BBC Four review - hot fuzz hit new heights | reviews, news & interviews

Spiral, Series 6 Finale, BBC Four review - hot fuzz hit new heights

Spiral, Series 6 Finale, BBC Four review - hot fuzz hit new heights

Storming climax to multi-layered Parisian police drama

What's French for Five-O?: Caroline Proust as Laure Berthaud, Thierry Godard as Gilou

Happily, there’s hope for Spiral junkies – as series six ends, we bring you news that series seven has just gone into production. This is just as well, because these last dozen episodes have been an object lesson in how to make TV drama for the mind and body, nimbly evading cop show genre-pitfalls to bring us carefully-shaded characters operating within a Venn diagram of overlapping grey areas.

Big kudos, yet again, to showrunner Anne Landois.

Looking back at publicity photos from previous series of Spiral (the first one was shown on BBC Four in 2006), it’s shocking to see how much the cast have aged. Mind you, so would anybody in their line of work (“it’s not the years, it’s the mileage” as Indiana Jones would have it). This season, we’ve had Captain Laure Berthaud impaled by existential doubt about how she can ever be a mother to baby Romy, fiery lawyer Joséphine Karlsson brought to the brink of personal and career ruin by a date-rape outrage, and Laure’s right-hand man and now lover “Gilou” Escoffier near-fatally compromised by his idiotic theft of gold ingots from a crime scene. Their old team mate “Tintin” Fromentin (Fred Bianconi, pictured below), a solid cop who’s consistently underestimated, thinks his comrades have crossed the line and has quit Berthaud’s CID unit in disgust.

Several important threads were left dangling at the end of the series, but the plot isn’t as important as the characters, their development, and their relationships to the world they’re moving through. Almost everywhere you look, there has been some treasurable little nugget to latch onto. For instance, the subplot about Judge Roban’s brain tumour was handled with wit and sympathy, from Roban’s all-too-understandable trepidation about going to the hospital for tests, the surgeon’s tactlessly cheery demonstration with a model brain about how they’d drill a hole through Roban’s skull and stick a needle down it, to the revelation that Roban had nobody he could ask to pick him up from hospital apart from his servile office bureaucrat, Didier. Yet through it all, Roban still managed to stay focused on his work, despite his boss at the Justice Ministry pondering the quality of his “lucidity and discernment”. “That rules out most people here,” retorted Roban drily. Philippe Duclos’s portrayal of Roban has been worth a cupboard full of gongs.

Spiral’s wheels-within-wheels structure, moving between cops, criminals, politicians and the judiciary, has become entirely seamless. The Camara brothers, hardcore gangsters posing as “community leaders” and local benefactors in order to soak public funds from Mayor Fabienne Mangin – who was happy to pay cash for votes from the ethnic community – were portrayed with probing accuracy. The solidarity march after Bakary Camara was shot by police while trying to escape from a safe-cracking raid was a masterpiece of self-serving propaganda, with its morally outraged posters and graffiti saying “Je suis Bakary”. The police’s reluctance to make arrests on the Camaras’ home turf of Cléry-sous-Bois (a fictional but plausible multiracial suburb suffering from crime, poverty and social breakdown) for fear of provoking a violent backlash became wholly understandable when gangs launched an Assault on Precinct 13-style attack on the local police station.

The investigation into the gruesome murder of police officer Laurent Mercier that opened the series gradually spread out to encompass police corruption, stolen gold, money-laundering property deals, people trafficking and a babies-for-sale racket, but in Spiral nobody is squeaky-clean. Berthaud’s squad would never get anywhere without a bit of brazen rule-bending, though they don’t help themselves with bouts of catastrophic incompetence. For instance, a suspect under observation got away because Gilou and Tintin were having a childish punch-up in the back of their van, and the entire Mercier case was almost blown when they forgot to fill out an arrest warrant.

However, they need take no lessons from the legal fraternity. Lawyer Karlsson tried to unravel the case of Procureur Machard’s intimate involvement with the death of a male prostitute, which Roban had already tried to bury. Her boss Eric Edelman warned her the judiciary would simply close ranks, and so it proved (pictured above, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as Edelman, Audrey Fleurot as Karlsson). Perhaps the only false note in the series was Karlsson’s homicidal assault on her rapist (she’s known to be impetuous, but this was verging on the deranged.) We wait to see if her career can survive into series seven.

The investigation spread out to encompass police corruption, stolen gold, people trafficking and a babies-for-sale racket


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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As good as it gets. It appears to pull no punches on the reality of policing the nastier bits of La Gay Paree. The characters are all too human & engaging, you cannot help but be sympathetic considering the excrement thrown at them from all directions (especially from above ...). I'm not sure Josephine's extreme revenge was out of character; she's always given the impression of being a damaged individual, one might almost suspect some form of abuse as a child - all the more powerful for being left unsaid.

Utterly compelling drama. This season us up there with 'the Wire' season 4 and the concluding episodes of the 'Soprano's'. I felt the end of season 5 a little contrived so looked at season 6 with a touch of trepidation as I've invested years in this show. However, my fears were unfounded as this was cracking. The relationship between Gilou and Tintin was the real highlight. Funny to watch, sad in its end. Plaudits to bbc4 for bringing this to our shores. Also 2 hours a week is enough bleakness for me and I will try to limit my 'Gomorrah' viewing (Sky app has released all episodes) to Two hours per week as well.

absolutely superb - every character plot - the lot - roll on series 7 cannot wait! come back tintin.

Absolutely magnificent. But what am I to watch next Saturday that will encompass such spellbindinglyly flawed fickle and fallible humanity?. And will the elegant firebird, Joephine Karlsson, be running a law advisory service from inside jail in aeries 7? Roll 2019 I say.

Je suis desolee. Saturday nights won’t be the same. Do hope the whole team , come on Tin Tin makes the next series and what will happen to Romy

I have watched Spiral right from Season 1. It is one of the best things on TV. Some award winning performances.

Best cop programme I have seen for a long time. Much better than those in English . Vera and others are far too slow! I put it alongside The Bridge. When is Spiral to be screened next ?

Well done BBC 4 in picking up this police thriller series. The acting is exceptional, and leading actors like Caroline Proust and Audrey Fleurot have been willing to come to London and answer questions on the series and their characters.

I seriously don't know how I managed to miss series 1 to 5 of this brilliant Police drama. I have watched it from series 6 on I player and am totally hooked. As someone else commented it is up there with "The Bridge " and " The killing ". The interplay between the characters and the various sub plots is absolutely riveting. Well done BBC4 , could we have repeats of series 1-5 on I player pleeeease....

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