Word on the streets is, this show is the French counterpart to The Wire. If you ask Must, that’s high praise indeed.
In this dark drama, Baltimore has been swapped out for Paris’s banlieue, where a bunch of cops and lawyers are desperately trying to uphold at least a low level of peace in an area far removed from the picturesque, postcard Paris we’re used to seeing. And it’s definitely not for fans of easy-viewing – this is more Mass Murder in Montmartre than Emily in Paris.
And the murders really do need their own special mention. They’re gruesome and grisly, and nobody is safe – even babies are brutalised. And like all good TV shows, our lead characters are complex, riddled with flaws and host to a healthy dose of deplorability. The consequence of this is that the show is wonderfully unpredictable, regularly spiralling out of control into compelling, gripping plot lines.
The show originally aired en France in 2005, before popping over in the Channel Tunnel and into the safe hands of the British Broadcasting Company. There – like so many other European TV escapades – it has flourished for its full eight seasons.
The Times’s Camilla Long was gutted to see Spiral end, confessing, “I am going to miss their indestructible brand of Gallic dissatisfaction and phone-flinging misery.” The Guardian’s Polly Vernon is with her. She thinks the series is “magnificent and exciting and better – or at least, Frencher – than The Wire.” And it seems the series has travelled even further than the 21 miles across the channel. Some 3,000 odd miles more, in fact, across the Atlantic and right onto American screens. According to The New York Times’ Mike Hale, they love it as much as we do, calling it “stark, unadorned, impossible to look away from.”
First shown December 2005. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here: