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Sometimes we gamble with these things when we bring them to your attention. We don’t always wait for a show to finish up before we tell you about it. And because we like to keep fresh and modern, we are sometimes telling you about shows that are largely unknown quantities.

Such is the case with AMC’s Monsieur Spade, which, as I write this with my vintage 1952 fountain pen, has aired exactly one hour long episode. But ooooo-weeeee it was a promising hour!

Dashiel Hammett’s Sam Spade (a curiously under-exploited character from detective fiction when you consider how many versions of Sherlock Holmes and Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe we have) is now living in the south of France, driving around in a shiny tiny car, mooning around a vineyard or whatever, and shopping for produce with a little net bag like he’s at your local hipster farmer’s market.

In short: he’s a long way from The Maltese Falcon and Humphrey Bogart. Sort of. Clive Owen inherits the trenchcoat and while he’s not playing a riff on his predecessor (or even the original Spade, Ricardo Cortez), he does get Bogart’s weariness right, and the script gives him just enough of the right kind of snappy dialogue that the illusion holds, even if Owen does occasionally sound exactly like Jonathan Hart-era Robert Wagner (close your eyes and listen and then tell me I’m wrong).

Shot on location in, oh, I dunno, paradise, it’s beautiful to look at in that same exact way that the recent Perry Mason reboot was. If your mind wanders, you can always look at the lamps or the costumes. People smoke like crazy (emphysema is a plotline!) and I’m fairly certain I saw some 8 a.m. wine-drinking… though live your life, Sam Spade, you do you. I was hitting pause and hunting for flights to France within five minutes (you get in a Francophile mood toot de suite: it doesn’t hurt that the first thing you hear is the incomparable Juliette Greco singing “Les Feuilles Mortes”).

There’s a case of course, and the opening prologue has tenuous connections to the plot of The Maltese Falcon (you don’t have to have seen or read it, though you’ll wonder who Brigid O’Shaughnessy is and face it: you could do worse than spend an afternoon with The Maltese Falcon). And those of you with a thing about nun stories (and you are legion): buckle up.

The first episode was largely plot set-up, but my interest is piqued (not peaked, not peeked—but this is a rant for another time). I’ll gamble on this one and if it doesn’t pay off, well, I’ll at least get lots of lamp ideas.

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.


  • Oooh, thanks for the recommendation.
    Yup, I get you. Tent dresses don’t flair out grrrr they flare fcs!

  • Stumbled across this a couple nights ago and you are so right – I cannot tell you how disappointed I was that the second episode wasn’t ready for me to watch. I got a kick out of his mesh market bag as well.

    • Thank you so so much for “piqued.”

  • I loved this first episode. Can’t wait for the next one! I was struck by how much Clive Owen resembles Robert Mitchum.

  • Oh yes, there is so much to love about this series! Great cast (including the little Citroen), snappy dialogue, beautiful scenery, plus a great mystery. I even managed to squeeze in a few rounds of knitting. It is hard to wait for the next episode, but it’s also nice to have something to look forward to in the coming week. Sort of like the ‘old days’ of weekly TV shows before cable and streaming.

    Maybe an audio version of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ to knit along to would be a nice refresher.

  • Anyone who has not seen The Maltese Falcon (how to italicize in comments?) needs to go see it right now.

    And in my opinion the reason there have not been a bunch of Sam Spades is that Bogart got it right and there was no need to try again. But thanks for calling this new one to our attention, especially if it brings a lot more folks to the original. And thanks as always for your writing, DG, always worth reading.

  • OMG, I laughed out loud at “piqued!” A pet peeve of mine, too. Rant on, D.G.! This show is on my list; I’ll move it up.

  • My husband and I watched the first episode the other night, and loved it! Can’t wait to watch the next episode!

  • I’m in. Thanks. I do need to rewatch the Maltese Falcon. I can see Sydney Greenstreet …and the dang falcon… I was a little kid.

  • Piqued, peaked, peeked…I love it. My real gripe is with pore and pour. On the Internet, despite autocorrect, people are pour-ing something all over their books, patterns, what have you. Hope it doesn’t leave a stain. Dictionaries may change because of this – if guided strictly by the rule of sheer usage. Loved Hart to Hart for the charm and Maltese Falcon for Bogie. Thanks so much for the heads up for Monsieur Spade! Would hate to miss even a pale copy of snappy dialog. It’s so rare these days.

    • I heard an interview on npr with Clive Owen and cannot wait to see this version of Sam Spade!

    • I’m with you, Chloe. My gripe is people saying ‘these ones’. Two plurals?? It’s this one or that one or these. Not an English major, but had some really great English teachers.

  • It IS good!!!! I can hardly knit while watching it!!

  • Will look for this show – I could use an armchair travel adventure.

    For me, it’s ‘til (until) and till. Irritates me no end. And the previous comment about dictionaries changing due to usage is likely correct.

  • Piqued is one of my favorite words. What sets me off? “Voila” – with a ‘v’, not “wa-la”. I’ve even seen it spelled “wa-la” online, by folks who ought to know better. ARGH.

    • Kaye Gibbons, in her novel “Ellen Foster,” has the main character (who is 10) say “wa-la” quite often, so I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re just well-read and making a joke.

  • How about “it’s” and “its”? And, “If you have any questions, ask Sally or myself.”
    Argh! Argh!
    Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Yes, and the related “Sally or I.” They obviously didn’t have the English teacher who drummed the process of testing phrases into our brains — “ask I?” Nope – “ask me.”
      Also those possessive “chair’s.”
      Whether grammar, or culture, or anything else you are serving up with that antique pen, thank you DG!!!

      • Fellow grammar nerd here and loving these comments. Agree with all of them!

  • Thanks DG–looking forward to finding this!

  • Just a heads up, it does have some French subtitles, so for me, I can’t watch and do complicated projects. I watch on the Philo app.

  • Well, my interest is truly piqued! (People are now saying eeked instead of eked, as I’m “I managed to eke out a hat with the leftover yarn.” UGH)

    Anyway, I think Clive Owen is hot . Thanks for the recommendation!

  • I dearly love The Maltese Falcon and have watched it countless times, so I approached this with much trepidation. I did enjoy this first episode and I’m up for more! As the graduate of one High School French class – his plodding butchering (to French ears) of the language was oh so authentically ‘aged Sam Spade.’

  • I love it when someone uses the correct spelling for a commonly mis-spelled term 😉

  • I’m with you on the piqued/peaked/peeked thing. The one of been cringing at lately is a new co-worker who uses whom as the subject in her emails. Almost makes me regret leaving my old job. Looking forward to Monsieur Spade now that you’ve piqued my interest.

    • *I’ve been cringing at. I really need to proof read before I hit “Post Comment”!

  • “ Jonathan Hart-era Robert Wagner” – snort! My brain parsed this fluidly and perfectly (I can hear it!) and then I thought, “no, that cannot possibly be what he meant.” Yes, yes it is. Ah, my fellow TV nut, I salute you!

  • Off to google “how to watch Sam Spade” – does it mean another subscription for us cable cutters? It looks just about worth it. You have indeed piqued my interest 😉

  • I always look for your column and always love your suggestions for different shows. You have at times opened my world to things I never would have seen otherwise. Thank you.

  • Yes.

  • We also loved the first episode! Can’t wait to see where it goes this week!

  • Thank you for your recommendations here, DG, I always enjoy your writing, your wry humorous voice in these pieces. This show looks beautifully stylish but there’s little chance I’ll watch it, tender rabbit that I am (tension, guns, violence!) but this time, wanting to read more, I clicked the link to your Psychopedia, and then the other blogs, into 6 DGs of Observation. So I’m going to thank you some more for your writing, with thanks to MDK for the introduction! Hmm. How to knit to these blog posts? Maybe you could read them aloud and post the audio recording, so we could knit as we listen?

  • Thank you for this fantastic recommendation! Watched it immediately, too cold to go out, and loved it. Yes, I heard the Robert Wagner tone and would gone crazy trying to remember whose voice Clive Owen’s reminded me of – very appreciative of all you do for the readers of MDK!

  • Monsieur Spade is on my watchlist! But I am a binger of the highest order, & will wait impatiently until I can. Which is ridiculous

    I am also with you on the grammar. The wrong usage actually makes me look like an emoji

  • I’m two episodes in and my husband and I are both hooked!

  • I just want to know what pen you’re using. Vintage Esterbrooks are my current favorites. (Watched the show last week and was also googling trips to France).

  • I just came across taut v taught in a blog post. I weep.

  • It is so funny you mentioned the Robert Wagner thing. I thought of that immediately, and I told my wife and she said “I knew he sounded familiar”.

  • Have already watched the new Sam Spade episodes and am ready for more! I like the French countryside setting and, yes, I’d go there in a hot minute! Eagerly awaiting more.

  • Loved the first episode. (Clive Owen is always good – Children of Men, The Nick, Second Sight, I could go on.) Monsieur Spade inspired a rewatch The Maltese Falcon!

  • I loved it. The first episode was so funny, but the end was very gruesome. Just a warning. Apparently, they release an episode every Sunday night? Waiting for episode 3. The house keeper who only speaks French, and won’t let him speak it because of his bad accent.

  • NPR profiled both the new Sam Spade and the Woman in the Wall a few weekends ago. I watched the trailers for both but bee-lined it to the latter first. I think WitW might be even more Knit to This friendly as there is an admittedly brief visit to a YARN SHOP. Also a few nice sweaters, I mean, jumpers. And an excellent show to boot!

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