Spotless, Esquire Network’s first scripted series, is actually a show that has been acquired from Canal+ in France, where the series first aired earlier this year. So while not technically “original” for the network, it is definitely worth checking out. Co-created by Shameless (the British version) writer Ed McCardie and CSI producer Corinne Marrinan, the series combines elements of those two shows in unique ways, throwing in dark humor in some of the grimmest of situations, usually murders and other crimes. The show also resembles Dexter and Breaking Bad in ways, with some gruesome scenes not for the squeamish, as well as in its following of a character who eventually embraces the seamy lifestyle he has found himself in. Comedy, thriller, drama — several genres are straddled very effectively here.
In Spotless, we meet Jean Bastiere (Marc-André Grondin), who lives in London with his wife (Miranda Raison, 24: Live Another Day) and two children (we get a subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, sense of some of the prejudice Jean faces in England, being a Frenchman himself and having bilingual children). He runs a thriving crime scene cleaning business and seems to have it all. Unfortunately, his morals begin to be compromised — or, are compromised further, as when we first meet Jean he is with his mistress — with the return of his estranged brother Martin (Denis Ménochet, Inglourious Basterds). The siblings are bonded by a terrible secret and ensuing coverup from when they were children, and we get a glimpse of this at the start of the first episode. A string of shady events and a drug deal instigated by Martin goes wrong, eventually bringing Jean’s murder cleanup skills to the attention of local mobster Nelson Clay (Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey), who insists that Jean and Martin begin working for him. He forces them to remain on-call to take care of any messy scenes he and his men may leave in the course of their dirty dealings.
A terrific and engaging cast propels the action, from Grondin as the crime scene cleaner who can remove the slightest traces of physical evidence but cannot scrub his own soul clean no matter how he tries; to Ménochet’s rakish jerk who actually cares for his brother; to Raison as a woman determined to revive her own career after 15 years of domesticity. Earlier this year, it was announced that there would be a second series of Spotless in Europe, and hopefully that will find its way to the States as well.
Spotless airs Saturdays at 10pm ET/PT on Esquire Network beginning Nov. 14.