• Gripping French drama Spiral returns for season 5. (SBS)Source: SBS
Looking for a program to see you through the summer? Consider Spiral – the Continental crime-series that deserves classic status.
Christopher Hollow

20 Dec 2016 - 1:31 PM  UPDATED 20 Dec 2016 - 1:39 PM

One of the absolute best police dramas in recent years has been the highly underrated Spiral. The fifth season of the show launches on SBS on Boxing Day this year, but it's not too late to jump on board.

What is Spiral?

For those who’ve come in late, Spiral is the darker, more twisted version of The Wire. Come for the subversive storylines, stay for the engaging emotional through-line provided by tough police captain, Chief Inspector Laure Berthaud, as played by Caroline Proust. This French series began in 2005 and Season Six is being filmed as we speak.

What’s Been Happening While You’ve Been Away?

A bit. The opening series is an unrestricted look at corruption and drops the viewer in the midst of a French justice system where the crims seem interchangeable with the lawyers and cops. It quickly becomes apparent that Chief Inspector Berthaud and the team she heads have an indifferent attitude to the law. Series two focuses on drug trafficking. The third series sees the team hard on the trail of a serial killer while the fourth season is dedicated to domestic terrorism, prefacing the notorious Paris attacks. The fifth season is much more personal –Berthaud is pregnant and unsure as to the identity of the father.

Paris is Burning!

The Paris of Spiral is not your usual macarons, scented candles and hand-in-hand walks through the Louvre. It explores a Paris never seen in the tourist brochure. And there’s no better way to experience this alternate City of Light than from the safety of your couch.

What Are the Three Most Outstanding Spiral Episodes?

Season 3, Episode 3

If you’re someone that likes to plunge into a book rather than be forced to read in a linear fashion, check out this ep. It’s the one where – with a second body identified – the police start to think they’re looking for a serial killer.

Season 5, Episode 1

At the beginning of season 5, Chief Inspector Berthaud is trying to deal with the death of her sometime lover. Her personal life, already pretty messed up, endures another unexpected twist [spoiler: preggers!] But by who? Or whom? Or, how you say, qui?

Season 1, Episode 1

Nothing like starting at the start and immersing yourself in a rewarding show. Like The Wire, Spiral uses six different characters – a lawyer, judge, a prosecutor, two lieutenants and a police captain – to depict the French justice system. It doesn’t long for things to get both intense and complex.

Why has Spiral been passed over?

Maybe it’s hard to paint a show that’s been running for a decade as one that’s been missed. It’s a top-rater in France and the U.K. and has a squadron of loyal followers in the 70 countries it screens across the globe. However, there’s no question Spiral is underrated especially compared with corresponding European police dramas like The Bridge or The Killing. But no longer. Like other French icons such as singer Serge Gainsbourg, painter Cézanne, actor Marion Cotillard and guilty pleasure baked camembert, Spiral has done the hard yards for a wider audience. 

Spiral debuts season five on Monday 26 December at 9:30pm on SBS.

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