BBC4 Spiral Season 3: Was I wrong to stop watching?!

In an earlier post I gave my reaction to the first two episodes of the French police procedural series Spiral (Engrenage).

It was a bit mixed: while I enjoyed the charactisation of Laure Berthaud and the urban noir feel, I was somewhat put off by the grisly autopsy scenes.

And although I said at the end of the post I would probably continue watching, I didn’t return the following Saturday (something came up, the hamster needed cleaning out, you know how it is…). And that was that – I never quite managed to catch up.

Now that the series has finished, my question to Spiral-watchers is:

  • Have I make a grave mistake (pardonnez the pun)?
  • Should I give Spiral another go?
  • If you think I should have kept watching, should I start at series 1 and work my way through in order, or just dive in with series 3?

Answers on a postcard please…or by comment below.


15 thoughts on “BBC4 Spiral Season 3: Was I wrong to stop watching?!

  1. Cannot answer you as I have not watched it (yet)! I have recorded it as I know from past experience that there is little chance of me keeping the plot in my head if I have to wait a week between the double episodes. I enjoyed series 1 and 2 despite the various gruesome scenes as they seemed to be portrayed quickly and not to be dwelt on too much, so I’ll see what I make of 3…

  2. Perhaps you were expecting it to be too much like `The Killing` which of course is superb. It was interesting to contrast Sarah from The Killing with Laure in Spiral, both very determined women in their own ways but whereas Sarah was your cool Scandinavian Laure is French to her core. It is interesting to witness the different law procedures in other countries.
    Yes, it took me some time to get into Spiral but it has been worth it to see all the intrigues. Not a Fairisle sweater in sight although Laure has a mean collection of heavy boots.
    I just cannot imagine Laure getting on with Maigret!

    • Thanks, Mike. Yes, you have a point – I think it was too soon after The Killing for me and too different in feel. Perhaps having now had a bit of a break between the two is a point in favour of having another go.

  3. I came late to Spiral, and as a result I ended up watching the whole thing over a week. All I can say is I’m desperate to get hold of the first two series now! Didn’t see The Killing so can’t compare, but alongside a pretty good story I found the characters very engaging – to the point where I finished up most episodes wanting to slap Laure for being so completely one-eyed. It’s a little American in its approach (half a dozen storylines going at any one time) but I was hooked!

  4. Spiral clearly shows influences from both the Shield and the Wire and what’s wrong with that? Having said that nothing could be more French. As a lover of Maigret and those classic French crime films with Jean Gabin, Alain Delon and Yves Montard I was not disappointed although Spiral is clearly French crime in the 21st century, not a copy of earlier glories. Better than any current US or British crime series matched only by the Swedish Wallander. Do not expect French style these are the scruffiest cops either side of the Atlantic and set in Paris the Tourist never sees. Series 2 is better than 1 and 3 is better still.

    • Thanks for your comment, Steve. If I give Spiral another go, I think I’ll have to watch from the very beginning, to get a proper sense of the characters and their development. I felt a bit out of my depth starting in on series 2 – time to rewind. Interesting comparison with The Shield and The Wire – I can see what you mean.

  5. I hope you got around to watching Spiral eventually. It was violent but an excellent series. For me, the final scenes of series 2 were the most tense (tensest??) I’ve seen in anything anywhere.

    • Thanks, Hannah. I’ve still got my eye on it, and would start at the beginning to get a fuller sense of the characters and their development over time. With hindsight, jumping into the series so far down the line wasn’t a good move. I could tell there was a lot of backstory and history between the characters, but had no way of filling in those gaps properly. Lots of people have mentioned series 2: the best one perhaps?

  6. Hi, i missed it on tv, purchased the 3 series on dvd, i am now about to watch the last disc of series 3. I watched The Killing & thought nothing else could be as good, but Spiral has me hooked, cannot wait for series 4 !

      • I would recommend watching it, I started it straight after The Killing, at first I thought I wouldn’t like it, I think it was because I was so into Scandi crime, I also loved The Bridge & both the books & films of Girl with the dragon tattoo. I have never watched anything French before, but when watching it in big chunks I soon started to find favorite characters. I love all this European stuff it is such a change from the usual English & American, I could do with subtitles for a lot of USA progs too, i find their sound quality very muffled !

      • Thanks for the recommendation: I think I have a similar profile to you (tend to be drawn to Scandi crime), so may well give it a whirl. I hardly watch any UK or US crime now (though may be making an exception tonight for the UK drama ‘Line of Duty’, on BBC2 at 9.00)!

  7. I have recorded Line of Duty, thought I should give something English a try, soon be running out of Spiral 3, I watched 2 more episodes last night,could have watched all 4 but it got too late! I have to watch this kind of thing when hubby has gone to bed, poor thing, cant cope with subtitles.
    As he is a truck driver he usually has to go early though, he he. I am absolutely gripped by what is happening in Spiral. Will give Wallander a go next week, I have not seen any of this yet,Swedish or English, but I have read some Henning Mankell.

    • Line of Duty was good (not brilliant, but with the promise of turning into something really interesting) – worth a watch, I would say. Enjoy those final two episodes of Spiral 3, and hope that you like the Wallander!

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