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Le Bureau des Légendes 

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"Malotru", a French intelligence officer, undercover in Syria for 6 years, is called back home. He will face the difficulty to forget his undercover identity, the disappearance of a colleague in Algeria, and the training of a young girl.

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Malotru / ... 30 episodes, 2015-2017
Florence Loiret Caille ...
 Marie-Jeanne Duthilleul / ... 29 episodes, 2015-2017
Sara Giraudeau ...
 Marina Loiseau / ... 29 episodes, 2015-2017
Zineb Triki ...
...
 Duflot / ... 26 episodes, 2015-2017
Jules Sagot ...
 Sylvain Ellenstein / ... 25 episodes, 2015-2017
...
 Raymond Sisteron / ... 24 episodes, 2015-2017
Gilles Cohen ...
...
 Balmes / ... 19 episodes, 2015-2017
Irina Muluile ...
 La Mule / ... 19 episodes, 2015-2017
...
 Céline Delorme / ... 18 episodes, 2016-2017
Alexandre Brasseur ...
 Pépé / ... 17 episodes, 2015-2016
...
 Clément Migaud / ... 16 episodes, 2016-2017
Patrick Ligardes ...
 Marcel Gaingouin / ... 15 episodes, 2015-2017
...
Jean-Marie Rollin ...
 Edouard Rubin / ... 14 episodes, 2015-2016
Alba Gaïa Bellugi ...
 Prune Debailly / ... 13 episodes, 2015-2017
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"Malotru", a French intelligence officer, undercover in Syria for 6 years, is called back home. He will face the difficulty to forget his undercover identity, the disappearance of a colleague in Algeria, and the training of a young girl.

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14 December 2016 (USA)  »

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The Bureau  »

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1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Overrated
10 July 2017 | by See all my reviews

A review of season 1

A guy is being debriefed over Skype. It's "Malotru" the main character of this series. He's a French spy in Syria who is called back home. He tells his handler that he's seeing someone, but she (the handler) doesn't make much of it. But all along we are led to believe that it's a no-no for him to get romantically involved with a local who may or may not have been someone significant for his work. He lies to the girl and breaks it off.

In France Malotru is treated like some hero. He's put in charge of some new recruit even though he doesn't really train her. Rather it's his handler who's put in charge of training the new girl. His easy-going boss has some reservations about his ability to keep his undercover gig separate from his real life so he has some agents trail him, but they are no match for Malotru's wits. And the boss hires an outsider psychologist to do some therapy with Malotru. Her role at the spy office will increase over time in the season.

When there's some revolt in Damascus Molotru worries about his girl Nadia (played by the beautiful Zineb Triki). Now he really does something he shouldn't do. He keeps his alternate ID, buys a burner phone and contacts her. She's OK. Some time later she lets him know she's in Paris, too. And they start seeing each other again.

Early on a drunk guy is grabbed by police in Algiers. The drunk guys is actually a French spy code-named Cyclone. This is supposed to be the main story, or should be. Here we get to see some interesting deals and discussions, some old fashion spycraft. When another agent goes to the police station and doesn't find Cyclone the French know that something is up. Things get complicated because the Algerians may know that he's a spy or not. The French spy agency has to come up with some interesting ways to talk to the Algerians without revealing anything while trying to find out what they know.

Another story is the one of the new recruit and some of the interesting stuff she has to go through. But she, too, is smarter than she should be and graduates easily. Her first job is to end up in Iran to sabotage their supposed nuclear program. She has to insert herself into some earthquake institute in France and get the main guy there to invite her to work in Iran. Again we see some interesting spy techniques.

Unfortunately, none of this matters much to the producers as does Molotru's unlikely and annoying relationship with the fine Nadia, who's way out of his league. It turns out by coincidence that she's part of a Syrian team that is secretly negotiation with the rebels under the auspices of Russia in France, without the knowledge of the French. Head of the Syrian delegation is a cousin of Bashar al-Assad no less. So when Nadia spends her nights in some hotel with Malotru, that immediately catches the attention of her handler, who quickly catches on to who Malotru is. All of this gets Nadia in serious trouble, which Maoltru tries to avert with his skills. But the Syrians aren't dummies and have an offer of their own.

The Bureau offers a lot of intriguing stories then, that are loosely inspired by real life. We learn how negotiations and deals are made among governments/spy agencies. The historical connection France has to Arab/Muslim countries also gives this some interesting relevance. But again, the series prefers to lose itself in the Malotru/Nadia story, which at least later on becomes about something more.

For all the seriousness of the topics this series injects a terrible element of goofiness. This spy agency is a strange mix of expertise and amateurishness that is very distracting. The 50+ minute episodes are unnecessarily long. Granted, this is a European series and I can appreciate the soberness, but the lack of urgency or desire to make things thrilling was overwhelming. I didn't really feel like following the series after watching the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd episode. In a a way, a lot more could have been done with the concept.

That said, much better than the material is the production itself. It's is first-rate and makes the series look and feel much better than it really is. No goofiness there. And I think that's what accounts for the glowing reviews.

Things tend to get a bit complicated because often new stories are "introduced" without much of an introduction, such as some operation the Americans are running at a clinic somewhere in the Middle East and because of the incompetence of the French it will end up being cancelled, but this resolution comes up several episodes later when you have all but forgotten about that story.

Another serious and near fatal problem is the casting of Kassovitz as the legendary Malotru. He is just terrible and the most unlikely master spy ever. I ended up disliking him and his character so much I was hoping for the Syrians to discover and torture him or make him vanish to put an end to the ridiculous love affair once and for all. And that's not how you want your audience to feel about your main star.

Early on there are some voice-overs by Malotru and that will turn out to be a nasty trick played by the production on the audience because it changes things significantly once there's something of a revelation near the final episodes. One big plus though is that Season 1 at least didn't go for the easy happy ending.

At around episode 6 or 7 I started connecting more with The Bureau. There is indeed something to like here but Season 1 never really overcame its ample shortcomings.


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