In French, dubbed in English (1992-1995)
Michel: "He wants a woman, the best there is. When she comes along, he suffocates."
Scoop was a Canadian television drama about the inner workings of two Montreal newspapers, the personal lives of their reporters, and the stories that they covered. It ran for four seasons and starred Macha Grenon (Stephanie Rousseau) and Roy Dupuis (Michel Gagne).
Scoop was serial rather than episodic, with plot lines that spanned multiple episodes. I liked that because it made the storylines more realistic. The cast was ensemble, though, and I wasn't as happy with that. Even though I liked many of the characters -- especially Francois Dumoulins and his daughter Alex, Lionel Rivard, and the unlikely couple of Tinker and Gabriella -- what really interested me was Stephanie and Michel and their troubled relationship. I spent a lot of time waiting for more about Stephanie and Michel. And waiting. And waiting.
There is significant Roy Dupuis content, though, which is why I watched it, after all. He's very young here. Jeans, cowboy boots, leather jacket, tousled hair. The glasses keep him from looking too much like the Marlboro Man. And there is the attitude. Michel Gagne is charming, smart, interesting and wildly sexy, but not all that likable. Brash and self-centered, Michel sees all relationships as a woman's attempt to trap him. And as a reporter, Michel takes too many chances.
I've seen the French version and the dubbed English version. The dubbing for the English version was done fairly well; Roy Dupuis did his own dubbing. But any time something is dubbed, no matter how well done it is, there's a disconnect. You're very aware that the actor you're seeing and the voice you're hearing don't sync. And I have another English version complaint: they changed Michel Gagne's name to Michael Gainey. Why not leave the French names alone? I also found all of the smoking to be jarring. One character, Paul Vezina, has a cigarette in his mouth in every single scene he does in the entire series. Hey, I live in southern California. People here mostly don't smoke.
Lots of spoilers for the series below!
Scoop Season One (1992)
In one of the first scenes of the series, Michel and Stephanie meet for the first time under unusual circumstances. Michel's friends bring him to L'Express for his first day of work in the back of a truck, chained in an animal cage. Stephanie pulls up in her Porsche and sees Michel for the first time escaping from a cage, half naked and covered with graffiti. There is even a wolf head painted on the truck door that opens to reveal him. This is about as obvious as symbolism gets.
In the very same scene, Michel's friends call Stephanie a princess. Apt, but that is not all there is to Stephanie. The only daughter of a billionaire, she could have spent her life playing tennis and lounging by the pool. Instead, she became a dedicated reporter with a strong social conscience. Powerful and determined, Stephanie always gets anything she really wants. Not a surprise that she thinks she can "tame" Michel.
But I never felt she would prevail in this relationship. Michel is too determined to be free. He tells Stephanie in an early episode that he ended his first marriage before they had children -- before it was "too late." After their first sexual encounter, while having coffee in bed, Stephanie tells Michel coyly that she is having ideas about permanence. Michel responds flatly that they are bad ideas. Michel and Stephanie are strongly attracted to each other, but in truth, it is clear from the beginning that they aren't suited.
There are several exceptionally hot Michel/Stephanie love scenes in season one. The most interesting is the one where they have sex on the desk in her father's office. He kisses her with a mouthful of champagne that ends up all over them both. And then they have a disagreement while they are still intimately connected. This is a fascinating scene, and not just because it is exceptionally sexy. In a way, it speaks volumes about their entire relationship. Even though they are still connected, still turned on by each other, he is angry because he has just found out that she went through his personal messages to find out where he was. She invaded his personal space. And -- tellingly -- she didn't see it as a problem.
Season one ends with Stephanie telling the entire newsroom that she is pregnant, only seconds after telling a shocked Michel that she is having his baby. Not an auspicious way to start a family.
Scoop Season Two (1993)
Things aren't going well for new parents Stephanie and Michel.
Although he loves their son Francois, Michel feels trapped and doesn't want to settle down; he still sees his relationship with Stephanie as a battle for his freedom. At one point, Michel even compares their love affair to a championship bout. Inevitably they break up, and Michel begins an affair with a rock star while Stephanie also makes a tentative stab at another relationship. Just as inevitably, they are drawn back together because the attraction is still too strong.
Stephanie's father, Robert Rousseau, is contemptuous of Michel and ignores him, while Michel is sensitive to every slight. Yes, Stephanie is champagne and Michel is beer; there is even a scene in season two where Stephanie is actually drinking champagne while Michel is drinking beer from a bottle.
The season culminates with Stephanie starting her own paper, Scoop, and taking L'Express's best reporters with her. Including Michel.
Scoop Season Three (1994)
Season three has the strongest dramatic arcs for both Stephanie and Michel.
Scoop is experiencing growing pains and running a loss. L'Express is also struggling after losing its best reporters to Scoop. Michel is finding it difficult to work for his girlfriend. Tinker and Gabriella are working for competing papers and having marital problems. Francois embarks on a romance with the young, volatile Margot, the new financial officer of Scoop. In my least favorite and occasionally so sweet it's nauseating Scoop subplot, Leona finds the perfect man and has a premature baby.
After being "outed" in L'Express as a billionaire's daughter, Stephanie is kidnapped and spends a number of episodes imprisoned in a basement under frightening conditions. Michel is frantic, and determined to find her. After she is rescued, she experiences serious post-traumatic stress. Michel is at first understanding, but eventually loses patience with her. The acting is good, although it occasionally goes a bit over the top.
Michel gets his own heavily dramatic subplot, too. While covering a mine disaster, Michel carries his brash young reporter bit too far when he gets trapped in the mine himself and nearly dies.
Scoop Season Four (1995)
What does it profit a woman to gain a multi-billion dollar empire and lose her exceptionally hot boyfriend?
If season one is the strongest season romantically, season four is the strongest dramatically. The action is spurred by the loss of Stephanie's father, Robert Rousseau, who is paralyzed in a helicopter accident and unwilling to continue living on terms he considers to be unacceptable. His assisted suicide is, in my opinion, the most moving scene in the entire series.
Rousseau's death causes chaos, and throws the future of rival papers Scoop and L'Express into turmoil. His will changes everything for Stephanie, who is forced to make extremely difficult decisions about the fate of both Scoop and L'Express as well as her own life. I liked the conflict and friendly rivalry between the two papers in season four, with Leona, Stephanie, and Margot stealing stories and employees from each other. (I was also pleased that they finally gave Leona an attractive hairstyle.)
Francois Dumoulins' story is interesting this season as well. Suffering from writer's block and caught between his exceptionally strong-willed girlfriend Margot and his possessive daughter Alex, Francois spends way too much time not knowing what he really wants. I thought Margot was protesting too much about Alex... right up until the moment Alex actually made a drunken pass at Francois that was like a bucket of cold water in his face. Didn't see that one coming.
Tired of grunt reporter work, Michel starts actively competing with Francois for the position of star reporter. He also finds it more and more difficult being the "boy toy" of a powerful woman. Instead of being supportive of the extreme changes in Stephanie's life and finding a balance between his work and their relationship, Michel ends up making things more difficult for her.
I didn't like the ending of the series, even though I could see it coming from the start. To be fair, Michel never promised to marry Stephanie, and never told her it would be forever. But it was still heartbreaking to see Stephanie racing after Michel in the airport, and Michel literally turning his back on her and walking away.
Stephanie told Michel back in season one not to break her heart. He finally did.
I don't have much to say about the deeper meaning of Scoop. It was a drama, much like other dramas. It was a fairly good show for what it was, though.
Although it currently feels dated, they took on some fairly heavy issues: child abuse and child prostitution, the black market in human organs, incest. I particularly liked the continuing acknowledgement that politicians control the media, and the media controls public opinion. I also liked the union/management conflicts; they were so well done that they kept my interest, and it's not a topic I find interesting at all. There are several strong, female characters, not just Stephanie; I really liked that several women in the course of the series ended up at the top, running a newspaper. There is also an interesting gay character (Lionel Rivard) who triumphs over alcoholism and finds stability and happiness in a permanent relationship.
But there were other things that didn't work for me. The characterization is occasionally shallow, and the dialogue trite. I could often predict what would happen from one episode to the next. They took some risks with the story lines, but not quite enough.
Two and a half out of four stars,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.