The Bureau: (Le Bureau des Légendes) - All Seasons
July 21, 2023 9:30 PM - All Seasons - Subscribe

Based on real accounts and inspired by contemporary events, this French spy thriller follows the daily lives and missions of members of the country's external security service -- France's equivalent of the CIA.

Quoting Wikipedia here because the shade it throws on season 5 is hilarious, and on the mark. The last season is fine, but not great.

The first season received positive reviews in both France and other countries, and won several awards.
The second season has been universally acclaimed, and has even been seen by some as the best television ever produced in France.
The third and fourth seasons... met with further acclaim, with praise for the show's acting, pacing, plot and realism.
There is also a fifth season.

For anyone in Australia this is streaming for free on SBS
posted by onya (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Looks neat, thanks for the pointer. Justwatch says it's on AMC+ in the U.S.
posted by mediareport at 3:42 PM on July 22, 2023

This would be up there high on my best of the best list. An absolute blast to watch, so well written and acted. And even though i too have reservations and regrets re the fifth season, I'd still pay good money to watch a sixth.
posted by Wrick at 5:31 AM on July 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Definitely one of the best TV shows of all time, incredibly well executed in almost every way. I really liked S5 so I don't feel like it dropped off at all!

I enjoyed The Watch podcast discussions on Seasons 1 and 2; Seasons 3 and 4; and their Season 5 chat also included an interview with the creator!
posted by adrianhon at 9:32 AM on July 23, 2023

This is one of the best series of all time, imho.

I finished watching the whole lot a while ago, and started straight back at the beginning for another watch. Fucking brilliant. I think Malotru spoke with varying fluency 10 languages by the time the series finished. And I just love Jeanne.

I think when we are watching tv series developed by our state broadcasters in Australia, the diversity of actors, genders, and classes is so strained in its execution. I think we could learn a lot about making a television series from Canal+ studios in which a whole range of actors can be employed plausibly and naturally. The settings are so well done across Europe, to Russia and North Africa.

If you cant stand leaving Canal+ tv behind at the end of this show, I thoroughly recommend Spiral by the same studio. Also brilliant.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:36 PM on July 25, 2023

I just listened to The Watch podcasts, interesting to learn (amongst other things) that the last two episodes were handed off to a new director.
posted by onya at 6:52 PM on July 26, 2023

Just started this.

The first scene of the first episode, where he's lying to his handler about his relationship as it's being shown on screen, is already better and more interesting than 99% of TV. I have a feeling I'll be sad when there's no more of these to watch.
posted by fleacircus at 11:47 AM on August 14, 2023

Kinda wish S1 handn't ended with entanglement with CIA. America is so boring. Or failing that I at least wish the CIA big shot wasn't Buddy Garrity from FNL lmao fml.
posted by fleacircus at 3:26 PM on August 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

Not loving Season 3. Giving a lot of pride of place to butter-biscuit gimpy boy, the Worst Fuckin Spy. Plus Duflot's silly death. It was nice to see ISIS portrated a little more organically and not just vague drooling boogeymen. Something I like in spy shows is competency porn, and let's just say.. Season 3 is not a showcase. Also, going a whole season with Malotru x Nadia up on blocks did not pay off that much... oh well.
posted by fleacircus at 1:58 PM on August 26, 2023

Well Season 5 was not great, though it did not feel like a sharp dropoff in quality.

I guess my expectations were too high based on the critical reception.

I suppose I do appreciate the heavy-handedness of the final episode. I'm not bright, and I like to have things pointed out to me. It is interesting that the show comes down on the side of: spies are bad actually. It's not just Malotru who awakens a spark of goodness in people, then exploits it to accomplish the mission, or lets them wreck themselves on the rocks of professional consequences.

(I did not recognize all of the dead people at the table alas.)

Still, I think I can complain about the choice of storylines. So much Jonas; and I think his romance in the end just obscures the point. Like, we don't need ANOTHER nascent romance complicated by the harsh realities of the service to make a point. There's lots of bizarre choices about storylines to follow in the last 2-3 seasons.

Also I just did not like Russia as the enemy, mostly because: I'm just sick of Russia lol. Love Aleksey Gorbunov as Karlov.

Pretty great acting though! And I like some of the characters. Maybe this made it worse for me! I wanted them to do more things. I didn't need like 3 seasons of the Torments of Malotru. I sorta like Mille Sabords and Jonas doing things but I don't see why they needed to keep adding new guys who are actually doing spy stuff that's pretty well siloed off from the rest of the story while established characters disappear or languish unused for no reason.

And yet, I don't feel that it was all arranged just so, to make a larger point.

Oh well, on to Sandbaggers!
posted by fleacircus at 5:53 AM on September 6, 2023

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