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Spiral/Engrenages, Season 5 (MHz/DVD/2014)

So sorry to see this superior French cop-series go, even if we didn’t get it until two years after it had finished in France.  A final twelve episodes at 53- minutes each added up to a hellava lot of exciting viewing. 

The set-up is a crime-unit in Paris, covering kidnappings, murders, high-end political shenanigans, dope-running schemes, etc.  Have Crime, Will Travel in France.  Sharply written and directed, with a lot of photography on Parisian streets, in all kinds of weather, there are many heart-stopping builds in the story-telling, including the death of one of the more handsome actors due (one suspects) because he had landed a British series as a window-designer (in which he also shines as an actor).

The series, which lasted from 2005-2014 (five seasons in all), did something we don’t see or hear of very often:  following criminal investigations from cops, defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges.  The French system of justice is complicated, indeed, and we Americans won’t necessarily follow all the intricacies, but it doesn’t matter because the show never lets up in its intensity and gallows humor, along with car chases and shootouts. 

It’s a thrilling series, not to be missed.

And a large part of that lies with the writing and direction, natch, but also with the incredible casting, beginning with Caroline Proust as a conflicted police lieutenant, with her need for male companionship jousting with her demanding and difficult job.  Then there’s her compatriot, Gilou, played with bulldog bravado by Thierry Godard; the morally-compromised pit-bull, the gorgeous  Joséphine Karlsson, played with equal amounts of guile and compassion by Audrey Fleurot; Philippe Duclos as Judge Roban, who make it his job to fairly sit in judgment on citizens; Fred Bianconi, unhappily married, but not willing to besmirch his place as a policeman; Grégory Fitoussi as prosecutor-turned-defense counsel, Pierre Clément; and so many hundreds of others in the 52-episodic series. 

As stated, this final season showed off the writing skills of the show’s creators, Alexandra Clert and Guy-Patrick Sainderichin, along with another 22 writers previously.  The directing staff, also, garnered high praise, with Frédéric Jardin, Frédéric Balekdjian and Nicolas Guichetau contributing excellent direction this season. 

This series will be missed so be sure you get the entire set for hours of satisfying viewing.  It’s rough-and-tumble, rude, vulgar and exceptional viewing.