Wednesday 15 July 2020

Streaming on SBS On-demand - When too much is never enough - More thoughts on THE BUREAU (Season 5, Eric Rochant, France 2020)

Sara Girardeau, The Bureau
It’s almost a year and a half since the blog noted Series 4 of The Bureau,  the rattlingly good French series produced by Canal+ which goes out with English subtitles first here. This may possibly be because SBS own the Australian rights do the English subtitles and presumably bung it to air as soon as the titles are ready. 
Rod Bishop has already fired in an enthusiastic review but I cant help adding to, and indeed repeating, the enthusiasm.
Series 5 now joins all the previous iterations and is currently on SBS On Demand. For me it remains as good as it was when first noticed here by Mark Pierce whom I choose to see as someone of authority when it comes to assessing the authenticity of these things. Mark’s first thoughts on Bureau,way back then after Series 3 are still pretty accurate: Frailty, there as everywhere, is the key to making the characters human. They are not meant to be good. Their methods are ambiguous, edgy, dodgy, as are their objectives. That is the basis of their charm. Their intention with the viewer is empathy rather than sympathy.”

The budget for Series 5 may be a sign of previous success. Locations in Morocco, Egypt, Cambodia and Ukraine are added on to the quotidian days of spys in the odd interior of DGSE back in Paris where it all seems to take place under a sloping roof behind the razor wired exterior where a tram runs past. I wonder has the building become a tourist attraction in the manner of the street locations for Home and Away or is it Neighbours

One new trope, not previously noted or at least remembered is to have some (for TV) fairly graphic sex open up or occur early in just about every episode. A frequent joke in each case is that the identities of the shaggers are kept back from the viewer, only for a matter of moments, but enough time passes to allow guesses to be made as to just who is doing whom. There are some surprises particularly the final one with the fat spy. 

In my earlier report linked above I noted the cliff-hanging conclusions which usually involve leaving us with the idea that Malotru/Debailly/Lefebrevre and now Pavel Lebedev (Matthieu Kassovitz) has finally met his end. Indeed it takes a couple of eps for the cliffhanger from S4 to be resolved in S5. All to the good. 

A story in the New York Times devoted to the series notes that longtime creator and showrunner Eric Rochant has decided to call it quits after 5 seasons. For that reason he invited Jacques Audiard to come in and do the last two eps and start with an almost clean slate and let his imagination loose. Audiard, who wont be back for season six, has unleashed a thousand thoughts. Cant wait though I'm not sure I want to see the proposed remakes set in various other countries mentioned in The Times piece. This is quintessentially French.

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