Ever since the online version of The Times has been converted to paid-for, the print edition keeps featuring interesting articles to which I'd quite like to link. The new subscription-only website does not let you even create a link to an article without registering, which I am not going to spend time doing just to find out whether or not linking is even possible (some publications allow you to read an abstract free, others don't even do that).
So, I write here about an article on page 47 of the print edition on Wednesday (14 July) all about Engrenages (Spiral, though a literal translation is "Gears"), the French TV series which is jolly good
indeed. Seasons 1 and 2 are out on DVD in subtitled versions, and series 3 will be broadcast in the UK "later this year". I was first alerted to the existence of this series by Euro Crime, and have never looked back since. I do, however, recommend either watching these filmic series on DVD or recording the episodes and watching them more frequently than once a week, to keep up with the convoluted plots.
The Times feature is by Sarah Hay, and describes her experience watching part of the new series being filmed. She calls it "France's answer to The Wire" for its "complexity of its characters, realistic depiction of Parisian life and biting portrayal of the French judicial system". If the depiction of Parisian life is truly "realistic" then the city would never attract any tourists – this is the Paris of Dominique Manotti, not the Paris of Gene Kelly or Coco Chanel. I should also add in all fairness that the three main characters: the policewoman, her main antagonist and the prosecutor, are all extremely good-looking.
From The Times piece: "In Engrenages, viewers follow Captain Berthaud, a workaholic cop played by Caroline Proust, as she tumbles between the gritty underlay of Parisian life and the Kafka-eque corridors of justice, where ambition and intrigue thrive. Standing between Berthaud's team and resolving their cases are Pierre Clement, the handsome, idealistic deputy prosecutor; Judge Francois Roban, whose doddery
appearance hides a sharp instinct for unveiling conspiracy; and the deliciously unscrupulous lawyer Karlsson. In series three the web of storylines tightens until a nail-biting denouement, hinting at corruption that reaches to the very top." (Sounds just like series 1 and series 2, then.)
Among other revelations in the article, we learn that red-headed Audrey Fleurot, who plays the unsavoury Karlsson, has a role in Woody Allen's next movie (currently shooting in Paris), and that a real-life lawyer recently gave a press statement on behalf of rogue trader Jerome Kerviel, using the phrase "C'etait un engrenage") – a title which Kerviel used for his book.
Like The Wire, the criminal plot lines are created by an experienced police superintendent, who says that all the situations in the TV series are based on real cases. Viewers who can't speak French and rely on the subtitles are often in the same boat as native French speakers, because the dialogue is full of argot and police insider-slang. The pace, the secondary characters, everybody is guilty and everyone is losing the plot, the sidekicks and, of course, the main characters – these, according to The Times, are the factors that make this series such a delight and why I am so much looking forward to series 3. (And the good-looking actors, of course!)