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One of the best spy series of all time is getting an American remake, and I’m actually excited

Published Jun 25th, 2024 3:53PM EDT
The Bureau
Image: Sundance Now

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For those of you who’ve never heard of the French spy series The Bureau, know this: Forget The Americans, Homeland, and any other standout example of the genre you’ve seen that you think stands as the best. The Bureau, in fact, is the show by which all other espionage dramas deserve to be judged by.

Le Bureau des Légendes — or The Bureau, as it’s known outside of France — is largely set in and around an office of the Dírection Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (the DGSE), which is France’s equivalent of the CIA. Later seasons increasingly took the action out into the field, but it didn’t change the fact that authentic tradecraft and the inner workings of an actual office full of spooks are at the heart of this acclaimed drama created by Eric Rochant.

The series, essentially a workplace drama about spies, ran for five seasons on France’s Canal+, but fans in the US like me have been able to enjoy The Bureau by buying the individual episodes from iTunes. And later this year, we’ll get to continue enjoying the story in another form: An American remake is coming to Paramount+ with Showtime.

Now, an American remake of a critically acclaimed international drama with a hardcore fan base is generally the sort of thing that ought to send you running for the hills. In this case, though, hope springs eternal. And here’s why.

For one thing, the show’s intelligence officer protagonist (played in the original series by Mathieu Kassovitz) is handled in the remake by Michael Fassbender. Story-wise, things also sound like they’ll at least start off the same, with the whole narrative just shifted from Paris to London. There, Fassbender’s formerly undercover CIA agent has resumed his normal life, which gets interrupted when an old flame re-emerges from his days as an operative.

This new version of the show — the title of which is The Agency — was written by brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (who co-wrote the underrated Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow), and Fassbender is the series producer along with George Clooney.

Paramount president and CEO Chris McCarthy had this to say in a statement about the remake: “Just as Homeland elevated global espionage to new heights, (The Agency) will take viewers even deeper into a world of intrigue and subterfuge with complicated characters who struggle with their own demons as they fight existential threats to the nation and the world.”

While we wait to get word of an official release date for the new series, meanwhile, I recommend that anyone who’s a fan of cloak and dagger — and especially of the dreary mundanity of Slow Horse’s particular brand of espionage on Apple TV+ — seek out The Bureau in its original form. All five seasons remain available to rent or buy on iTunes, and you can also read our interview with the show creator here.

From my earlier review: “The Bureau is about the anonymous men and women who both spy and facilitate the spying. It’s about the lies they tell to the world, to each other, and to themselves.

“There’s nothing philosophical here, no ‘greater good’ pablum. There’s just the work, and the Darwinian imperatives to never drop your cover, to know that lives are at stake every time you overlook an errant fact in a case file — and, above all else, the compulsion to abide by the Internet era’s version of what used to be known during the Cold War as Moscow Rules.”

I once interviewed a group of intelligence professionals for The Guardian, and every single one of them, without exception, agreed: The Bureau really is one of the best spy series ever made.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.