Spiral (Gears) is, without question, the best thing I’ve watched on television aside from The Killing. The cultural differences between the two series are quite significant as Spiral is French and The Killing is Danish but both have brilliantly well drawn characters.

The story focuses largely on events surrounding Police Inspector Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust) and Assistant Prosecuting Judge, Pierre Clement (Gregory Fitoussi – yum!). In doing so the series relfects heavily on the French Inquistorial Justice system. It also highlights many of the social problems in Paris; drugs, immigrant assimilation and political corruption.

It is quite explicit and gruesome in parts, and very violent. While  The Killing works as a slow burn, Spiral is confrontational and (depending on your sensibilities) shocking. It doesn’t hold back on the uglier side of human nature.

We talk a lot about flawed characters in fiction, and they don’t get much more flawed than Laure, Pierre, Judge Francois Roban and Josephine Karlsson. Laure and Pierre swing between integrity and its opposite, while Francois’ passion for the law costs him everything, and the black-hearted Joesephine shows that even the most corrupt of people can sometimes come through. Truly riveting stuff! I particulary enjoyed the dynamic between Laure and her team – specifically her co-dependency with the cocoaine-snorting Lieutenant “Gilou”.

I am absolutely hanging out for series 4. Can things get any worse for the volatile, single-minded Laure and the suave, conflicted Pierre? I imagine, having seen what the brilliant writers have done already, they can! I’ll certainly be there to stumble with them, and angst over whether they will make the right decisions.

Dana Delaney stars as a neurosurgeon forced into becoming a coroner because she can no longer operate. She’s depicted as arrogant, socially awkward and has high heels surgically attached to her feet (just kidding!).

I’ve watched the first season and may go back for the second, but more from idle curiosity than any real compulsion to follow the story. Body of Proof while at times amusing, is for the most part, uninspiring.

Two elements of the show work for me. First, is the sub-plot of Megan (Dana Delaney) trying to reconnect with her daughter. Though I don’t buy the whole “I was a bad mother thing”, her attempt to get to know her daughter again is, on occasions, quite touching.

The second highlight is the humour brought to the screen by the character Curtis (Windell Middlebrooks who is funny without even trying). His uhumms and eye-rolls are delivered with immaculate timing. Oh and Jeri Ryan adds glamour to anything she’s in.

Unfortunately, the murder mysteries are very pedestrian and Sonja Sohn (The Wire) is badly cast. She’s not a lightweight actor and she’s wasted in this part.

Body of Proof is a switch-off-the-brain kind of viewing. I believe several central characters a replaced in series 3, so I might see it through to find out how that works out. Also, Rick Fox makes a guest appearance in series 2 and I HAVE to see that.

Been circling around this series for a while because I didn’t feel much like taking a trip through a violent, crude fictional world. And though I’m about to start season 4 now, I still have a part of me (the civilised, rational part) resisting the explicit violence and vigilante justice. I think when I was a younger I would have embraced it (and I look back at my Parrish Plessis series and see many of the same dynamics in play). But age brings a meta-conscience that is hard to switch off. Yeah, I’m in a pussy phase!

Anyway, despite the disclaimer, I’m a completely hooked. The acting is so good that it will be hard to ever consider those actors in any other parts. They seem to have got the energies and the sexual tension right on (superb casting) and the writing is an effective mixture of street, humour and philosophy. I love the way so many facets of life get a voice.

The exploration of family and loyalty and why people make the decisions they do is not new ground, but showrunner, series creator and writer, Sutter, handles it with honesty and just enough moments of light to balance what could be unremitting dark.

The series is addicitive pulp fiction but runs so deep on the exploration of the nature of men, their conflicting values and their mate-ship that it truly is the best kind of entertainment; meaningful while being hyper-real and exhilerating. “We blow shit up” is a seductive mantra.

The portrayal of issue of women in the series is a really interesting one. What could easily have been offensive and dismissive, is a realisitc and compelling reflection of women’s roles in a male-centric environment. The characters of Gemma and Tara are the anchor of the show – without them it would be a meaningless story.

I’m waiting with bated breath to see what Sutter’s end game is. It’s a long time since I’ve been so emotionally invested in a set of fictional characters – more so in some ways than some of the ones I’ve written myself (that’s how deep it goes for me!). Sutter has no fear, and I’m in awe of that – but there is a balance between letting the characters dictate their end and tearing the audiences heart out and making them wish they’d never heard of SAMCRO.

I’m on your side Sutter, don’t let me down!

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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