Spotless Recap S1:E1 One Hand Clapping

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I've been interested in Spotless since I heard that Esquire had acquired their own network and were debuting this as their very first original show. You know, as long as it's not a guide to: How To Be A Man and Cleanup Crime Scenes or something. There are SO.MANY TV choices from non-network sources, I'm 'cited to see what Esquire got up to.

We open with a teenage boy walking along the beach to seagull sounds on a grey day. He walks into a house and the little bugger grabs a beer and lights up a smoke. He's gotta be 13 at best and for sure could be younger. Is it too early to parent-shame? He hears some screamy noises, okay, this must be not his house, because he actually goes to look and sees? A rape? An attempted murder? I can't tell and I ain't watching it again. A naked lady was being set upon by a greasy-looking creep with a very bad mustache.

Unfortunately, Greasy saw our Bad Teenager, who is now running away slowly (ANOTHER argument against smoking). He catches Delinquent Teen hiding behind another dilapidated beach shack and starts pounding on him but is stopped by a very large axe to the head swung by a slight young man. Was he who I thought was a lady in the first scene? I AM NOT WATCHING AGAIN, ESQUIRE. I will say that it makes slightly more sense if it was; I couldn't help but think while Greasy was chasing Delinquent: why is he so worried about being caught raping someone? People do it ALL THE TIME and nobody cares; it turns into a circus about everything BUT the fact that a human was violated profoundly and irrevocably. I should probably leave that. But. If it was a child, that would make more sense that he was willing to kill to keep that a secret; nobody ignores child abuse, thank sweet baby Thor.

We move to Jean (guessing Delinquent grown up, played by Marc-Andre Grondin) and let's just say the Canadian (hay gurl hay!!) actor looks very different off this show, no hurr and an unfortunate mustache.

Anyway, he's talking to a psychiatrist about wanting to escape and his self-sabotage. Nobody knows he's talking to her and apparently that's a bad thing. She asks if he has seen any dead people today and we snap to his job cleaning crime scenes. I'm not gonna lie; I was drawn to this show because they clean things up and I.dig.that.

The scene today is an Iraqi? Turkish? jumper in a fancy office building. Ooohh I am already in love with the principal photography, look at this shot of brains on the floor!

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Tell me you would have thought brains on the floor could look that good, you big liar! Anyway, he's curious as to why the swan dive, but doesn't find out, because that's not his job, yo. Oh we get to see and it's beautiful but I watched through my fingers. Can he see that? Is it that type of show? Or is he imagining? I guess we'll find out.

Back at the terropist, she asks if he's obsessed with death and when he makes moves to end the session, brings up his mistress. He doesn't want to label the "woman" as such but is countered by the doctor saying his wife is ALSO  a woman. Now, I'm no expert, but this therapist's style seems extremely antagonistic for someone not doing court-assigned sessions. Like right after that, when she asks why he effs the woooman if his wife is such a great person; is the mistress a trophy? He says he doesn't think of people like that and OH! She's the mistress!! And this is some complicated role play and he's almost the best lover she's ever had. Number 2 means he should try harder!

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Lots of inappropriate client contact involving him looking very closely at her reproductive organs; it turns out she's not even a therapist, which is maybe why she was doing such a shit job at it. She works in a shop; she owes nothing, she owns nothing and she's free as a bird. Isn't that FANTASTIC?? Remember that feeling??

He heads home and I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering if he's washed his unruly facial hair while we meet his wife Julie (Miranda Raison) and brother Martin (Denis Menochet).

Martin
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She's quite lovely, but I spent more time looking at the kitchen behind her and I'm sorry. No I'm not, is that a Wolf range??

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Apparently Black Sheep Brother snuck in through that totally fixed window (ah marital bliss and all it's wee barbs and arrows) and Julie is pissssedddd. Martin seems quite jolly, I'm not sure why everyone seems to absolutely hate him. Oh wait, he tells a story about peeing in the shared fambly bathwater and I kinda get it. Maybe Jean was the Axe Murderer after all and Martin was Delinquent.

Martin is on the run and it's too soon to say if it's from "problems" or Actual Problems. Jean tells Martin he can stay for a weekend of Happy Families and that is IT. Later in bed, Julie says Martin can stay longer if they are to mend fences, but Jean tells the story of the corporal abuse the brothers endured as kiddos; Martin never fell and from that, I get that Martin must have been Delinquent for sure. Odd noises...

And Martin is dragging in a freezer from the truck into the garage as the power has failed. And oh! Martin is indeed running from Real Problems; there's a shrimp-covered dead drug mule in the freezer. They manage to argue about it loudly enough that they wake up a neighbour, who threatens to call the police. Martin tells him that now THEY have a problem, especially since Jean is apparently too pretty to go to jail.

Martin has gotten on the wrong side of a drug cartel; he figures Jean and all his crime scene cleanup can help! Um, no, says Jean, he doesn't dispose of bodies, he's the mops and bleach and shit part. Be gone by morning! Also gone by morning: Martin's van! It's been towed by the cranky neighbour. All he has left is a freezer full of shrimp, a dead drug mule and drugs. Martin wants to sell the drugs but Jean most emphatically does NOT.

More soothing cleaning scenes. Less soothing: Martin in his ginch going through all of Jean's stuff and using his toothbrush. This show is just beautifully shot; and that is just not always a good thing. Did you know that the texture of brain matter turns to like silly putty as it dries? Me either! Martin searches while Jean imitates dead people and I just don't know which is worse.

Jean calls Julie; their daughter has been waitlisted for a fancy school so they need to make a donation and maybe that's why Martin figures he has money. I'm shite at figuring out if TV sets are meant to be expensive-looking or not. Jean showers and ah yes. He was the Axe Murderer.

Jean checks his office safe; not enough moola in the work funds; not enough in personal funds either. He meets his contact that he owes money to? And is told that the police are cancelling all existing contracts and renegotiating at a pricepoint 40% lower. So. Guess who also needs money now?

Jean and Martin have the most suspicious looking meeting EVER at a café while they stare at people; they agree to split 50/50 and Martin will set it up in one day! Yay moola! The root of all evil and most TV shows.

I have no idea why, but Martin is allowed to mind Jean and Julie's children, so he takes them along for his drug meet. While trying to get the kiddos to skiddooch so he can make the sale, he is Bad Uncle personified when he asks 13-y-o Maddie if she smokes or what else she does for kicks. He sends her to get a henna tattoo ("She looks unclean" "Then build some immunity") and tells the boy not to burn anything here just yet.

Meanwhile, Jean is staring at his mistress Claire (Tanya Fear) showing other men jewelry and it's all very "hee hee hee nobody knows about us and it's TOTALLY not written all over our faces."

I've no idea what Julie is up to, but it started with her sketching an empty chair and ended with her flirtatiously borrowing a cigarette in a bar.

Schlubby Martin is being blown off by the gangsters with their "processes" and procedures and they're nice about it, but I don't think Martin's quite at their level of drug selling professionalism. He decides to top all that off with a trip to the basketball courts to bait some players. Best.Uncle.EVER.

Julie and Jean arrive home around the same time; takes 'em a bit but they eventually realise Martin has the kiddos. Undoubtedly, Jean is also realising Martin was supposed to be closing a drug deal at the same time, so he doesn't exactly want the police called just yet. And there they are! With their new Marijuana leaf hats at 11 pm. Sure.

Drug mule body disposal time! I'm not repeating any of what Martin says about his making sweet, sweet love to the totally alive at the time drug mule. Suffice to say: he thinks he has a big penis and / or a great sense of humour and I am highly skeptical of both. He thinks she died when one of the balloons popped, I'll let you sort out how he figures it was breached.

Ohhhhhh, my bad! The drugs are still INSIDE the mule! That's why they keep calling her that! To highlight that fact. Oh. So *herk* now they have to get them out. While they're retrieving the wee balloons, they bond over the fact that Julie has fantastic t*ts and it's about to get ugly up in here. And the buyers from before show up?? At his house?? With a dead body laying on the table all cut up?? WHUT?? They say they work for a Mr. Clay and then more people show up!! With more guns and there are too many buyers all of a sudden! Martin is seriously unprofessional, making two deals right on the heels on the other like that. I mean, the first two gangsters said no, but that must have been the bad boys at the basketball court that Martin approached 5 minutes later WITH THE CHILDREN IN TOW. Doesn't matter anyway, the basketball players are dead; those OGs don't play around, no matter how chatty they seemed just before it got shooty up in there.

OGs wanna kill the witnesses now, but Jean makes a pitch with his crime-scene cleaning skills as the clincher and all of a sudden I bet I know where the second part of Jean's career is gonna come from. If the police are screwing him with a 40% contract reduction, I bet the other side will have some great opportunities for him! It's like Breaking Bad but the Chicken Brothers are cleaning up crime scenes instead! I may be reaching. You know what I mean!

Cleanup time! It's so tidy and I this is why programs like Phil Hartman's Anal Retentive Chef on SNL were so instructive. I took them as primers, I have no idea why people thought they were satire. Jean even has access to the industrial city incinerator and all is done. Jean and Martin don't get any money for the drugs, but they also get to live, due to the slightly younger OG's reluctance to increase his bad Karma and the global negativity level. I shall dub him Hippie Gangster, or Hangster, for short.

Martin hugs Jean and we relive the childhood death again; and just to confirm: Jean was the Axe Murderer, Martin was Delinquent and they aren't ever going to talk about any of this ever again. Again. As Jean stares off in the distance meaningfully, a kiddo comes up and hands him a nice fat envelope "for a job well done." Inside is money, as expected, but also pictures of the brothers handling dead bodies and the like. Cut to Martin, who has kept two of the heroin balloons...

So what did you think? I thought Spotless was interesting, beautifully styled and just slightly European (London) enough that I can feel all chi-chi and shite. I'm ready to try a few more, see where the story takes us, watch some more cleaning because it's my version of a Yule Log Channel. Has anyone else watched it / heard of it?

  • Colleen O’Shea

    A bit gory in parts (drug mule on table!) but I enjoyed it and will stick with it. Seems a bit different. We’ll see where life and crime takes the brothers!

    • I really liked it, but yes, can be gory what with the nature of the business Jean is in. Just wait until you meet Mr. Clay. He’s played by Brendan Coyle and what’s remarkable about him.is that he made me think of Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley, before I knew of the fandom. Truly fantastic actor.

      I also really enjoy that the characters aren’t perfect or necessarily expected. Really good writing. I hope you dig!