13 Commandments

13 Commandments

Bloody message – the detectives on the hunt for ‘Moses’

A sinister series of biblically themed crimes challenges Belgian detectives in this dark thriller

★★★½

Channel 4, Sunday, starts 18 March, 10pm

FIVE OR SIX years ago it was the Nordic explosion in crime TV. Today the growing buzz is around Belgian series.

13 Commandments is a violent 13-parter about a moralistic killer basing his crimes on the 10 commandments. It begins with a grisly throat-slitting murder – which could put off some viewers – but after that lurid start, it becomes quite compelling.

There are conventional features, such as the budding police relationship between isolated old-timer Peter Devriendt (played by Dirk van Dijck) and his new unwanted young partner, Vicky Degraeve (Marie Vinck).

Odd-couple cops

She has been traumatised by her time with special forces. He lives alone and has a distant relationship with his daughter.

The character development is slow but convincing. After a while it seems logical that the two misfits should click.

While there was a bleakness amid the chill settings of Scandi classics such as The Bridge and The Killing, 13 Commandments offers unpredictability. Here, the twist is that the killer’s crimes make him a media sensation. Vicky and Peter’s job in hunting him becomes all the more difficult and dangerous.

Belgian crime wave

Other Belgian series to look out for under the Walter Presents umbrella include Rough Justice and Professor T. If the distinctive features of Belgium’s crime shows are mood and quirkiness, these two typify each style respectively. Rough Justice follows damaged Superintendent Liese Meerhout, while Professor T is about an eccentric professor with a sideline as police adviser.

And look out for the second series of Belgian hit Salamander, coming soon to BBC4.

In the meantime, watch as the criminal who calls himself Moses tries to restore a moral order to the world. It’s a dark and at times cinematic journey…

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