The Bridge — Killer TV No 19


Danmarks Radio/ Sveriges Television, series 1 2011; series 2 2013; series 3 2015

‘She’s Swedish, and the car came from Sweden. I assume I’m in charge.’ – Saga Norén

‘OK.’ – Martin Rohde

Sofia Helin (Saga Noren), Kim Bodnia (Martin Rohde), Dag Malmberg (Hans Pettersson), Lars Simonsen (Jens Hansen)

Identikit: Two detectives – one from Sweden, the other from Denmark – form an uneasy partnership when they must work together to investigate a murder scene right on the border between their two countries on the Oresund Bridge.

logosThe series that gave us the unforgettable Saga Norén, the blonde Swedish detective who has a laser-focus in solving crimes, but all the emotional intelligence of a Vulcan. She seems to be on the autistic scale, so that her idea of chit-chat is to come out with non-sequiturs like this in mixed company: ‘I started my period today.’ Or to ask a man who smiles at her in a nightclub whether he wants to have sex back at her flat. When it comes to breaking the news to a victim’s husband that his wife is dead, Saga has all the delicacy of an elephant on a flowerbed. ‘How many ways are there to say it?’ she asks her boss when he tells her to tread carefully. Saga, with her Porsche and leather trousers, is locked in a captivating partnership with Danish counterpart Martin Rohde, a shambles of an unfaithful husband who operates a lot on instinct, as they try to track down an ingenious, bitter serial killer who has attacked victims from both sides of Oresund Bridge, linking Denmark and Sweden. The investigation begins when what appears to be the body of a female Swedish politician is discovered straddling the national borderline on the bridge. The perpetrator has managed to plunge the bridge into darkness and staged the murder scene, so clearly this is a killer with huge resourcefulness and cunning. In truth, the plot involving the ‘Truth Terrorist’ staging various outrageous crimes to highlight perceived social problems is far-fetched. But, as with the key to many brilliant dramas, it is the principal characters who pull the audience in. Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia are two stars on a roll here, as characters who, despite their epic differences, slowly develop an off-key but somehow harmonious partnership. Across 10 episodes the tension builds slowly but remorselessly and with some stunning twists. And at the end, the killer is a lot closer to home than Saga and Martin – and the viewer – can ever have imagined. So highly regarded was the drama that the formula was immediately pinched by networks in the US and Britain/France, whose remakes are decent tributes, but certainly don’t outshine the original. Series two of the original came back, however, and developed the characters beautifully, with Martin struggling to come to terms with the murder of his son in series one, and Saga attempting to blend into normal society more – all against the backdrop of bio-terrorism crimes and incestuous lust among the rich. It ends with a heartbreaking cliffhanger and the two detectives divided and alone just when it seemed they were more bonded than ever. Sadly, Kim Bodnia did not appear in series three, and Thure Lindhardt stepped in as a new Danish partner, Henrik Sabroe. Next up for Bridge writer Hans Rosenfeldt is a thriller series for ITV called Marcella, starring Anna Friel.

Classic episode: The opener immediately and subtly establishes the character clash between Saga and Martin, while creating an eerie and perplexing mystery on the stunning Oresund Bridge. It is beautifully photographed, creating an alienating nightscape of highways, streets and the bridge.

The Tunnel, Sky Atlantic, with Stephen Dillane, Clémence Poésy PREVIEW

Clémence Poésy as Elise and Stephen Dillane in The Tunnel on Sky Atlantic
Entente not-so cordiale – Elise and Karl in The Tunnel. Pics: Sky Atlantic

Rating: ★★★★

Sky Atlantic: starts Wednesday, 16 October, 9pm

Story: British and French detectives are pushed into an uneasy alliance when a body is discovered inside the Channel Tunnel, sparking a complex cross-Channel investigation.

IN MOST WALKS of life people would blush if caught pinching someone else’s nifty idea. Not so the execs of television-land, who have no shame.

So, the success of the Danish-Swedish thriller The Bridge, which delighted BBC4 viewers last year,

Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane in The Tunnel on Sky Atlantic
Elise and Karl in pursuit of the killer

was quickly ripped off by TV honchos in the US – where the cross-border crime scene was switched the American-Mexican border – and also by those at Sky Atlantic/Canal+, with the Euro Tunnel becoming the focus of attention in The Tunnel.

The US remake has already been a success on FX stateside, and a second season is being filmed for 2014. So, is Sky Atlantic’s bilingual co-production a Bridge too far?

Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane

No, it compares very well, in many respects. For a start, whatever the niggles between the Swedes and Danes, they are kid’s stuff in comparison to the long-running bitch-fest of the rosbifs and the cheese-eaters. There is more humour to be milked from the premise in this respect, and The Tunnel doesn’t miss a trick.

The Tunnel - Ep01 .Clemence Posey as Elise & Stephen Dillane as Karl.Car Park Bomb in Danny's car. Sky Atlantic
Odd couple – Karl and Elise

To recap the story, a body is discovered in the eerie utility tunnel that runs in tandem with the Eurostar lines under the Channel. It is placed exactly on the French/UK border, but because the deceased is a female French MP, Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) claims it as a case for the French.

However, the grisly discovery that the corpse is cut in two and that the lower half belongs to a British prostitute, means the capitaine has to share the investigation with UK detective DCI Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane). If you remember, he’s fresh from a vasectomy owing to his track record of fathering five kids by three different women.

Parlez-vous Anglais?

Their first encounter in the tunnel is a gem. The French cops say as Karl and the rosbifs approach, It’s all right, the British speak French these days. And the first words out of Karl’s mouth are, ‘Parlez-vous Anglais?’

The cultural differences on top of the Elise’s Asberger’s-tinged personality, mean the drama has plenty of conflict built into it from the off.

Eurotunnel the body is found.Stephen Dillane as Karl, Tobi Bakare as Chuks. Sky Atlantic
Chuks and Karl at the Tunnel crime scene

Stephen Dillane, here a long way from the power-crazed Stannis Baratheon of Game of Thrones, is different to the bear-like Kim Bodnia in The Bridge – laddish, charming and funnier than his Swedish counterpart.

Elise is overshadowed by Karl

Clémence Poésy’s Elise doesn’t come off so well, her social ineptitude being fling at us all at once, so that she is not as fascinating or quirky as Sofia Helin’s Saga Noren in the original. It is as though the writers of The Tunnel assume the audience are familiar with the character and don’t bother to give us a chance to get to know her.

Saga was the star of The Bridge, but Elise is overshadowed in this opener by Karl. The Tunnel will
benefit if Elise is fleshed out better in the remaining episodes (it’s a 10-parter).

The plot is as bonkers as it is in The Bridge, with a crazed and unbelievably resourceful madman mounting his own terrorist campaign.

Sky Atlantic The Tunnel Episode 1.Stephen Dillane as Karl Roebuck, Angel Coulby
Stephen Dillane as Karl and Angel Coulby as his wife

The Tunnel is eerie and stunningly filmed

Where The Tunnel works well is in the culture-clash between the principal characters and in its tremendous atmosphere, with stunningly filmed night scenes of Calais’s Eurotunnel terminal and Folkestone, and eerie tracking shots along unmanned tunnels.

The Bridge is excellent – and the second series will be coming to BBC4 – but The Tunnel is a worthwhile and entertaining reboot of it. And Stephen Dillane’s cheeky performance alone is certainly worth an appointment for the next few weeks with the Tunnel vision.

Cast: Stephen Dillane Karl, Clémence Poésy Elise, Tom Bateman Danny, Joseph Mawle Stephen, Tobi Bakare Chuks, Mathieu Carriére Alain Joubert, Jeanne Balibar Charlotte, Alexander Hathaway Detective,  David G. Robinson French Detective, Karol Steele French Police Personnel, Paul Blackwell French police officer, Paul Dewdney Undercover Police, John Duggan Witness

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Jeanne Tripplehorn on Criminal Minds, Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel, Olivia Colman joins Mr Whicher

Jeanne Tripplehorn on Criminal Minds

Jeanne Tipplehorn, star of movies such as The Firm and Basic Instinct, joins the eighth series of Criminal Minds, launching on Living later this month (Monday, 28 January, 9pm). She plays linguist Alex Blake, with the season opener seeing the team tracking a prison escapee who is emulating the MO of a notorious serial killer called The Silencer. Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) will also appear in a later special episode.

Sky Atlantic, which has boldly gone where few other channels dare in making feisty dramas such as Hit & Miss and Falcón, has just announced a new 10-part series inspired by The Bridge. Set on the border between the UK and France it’s called – what else? – The Tunnel, and it’s a co-production with French network Canal+. A French politician is found dead on the border and detectives Karl Roebuck and Elise Wassermann investigate on behalf of their respective countries. It’s good to see Sky Atlantic backing a 10-parter, the same length of series as The Killing 2 and 3, something the Beeb and ITV rarely do these days. But it will be interesting to see if The Tunnel‘s Elise is anything like as much fun as The Bridge‘s ice blonde Saga Norén.

• The excellent Olivia Colman, who’s equally terrific in dramas (Tyrannosaur) or comedies (Rev, Twenty Twelve), takes a serious turn again to appear in ITV1’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher 2, alongside Paddy Considine as the Victorian detective. The first film, shown in 2011, was based on Kate Summerscale‘s superb non-fiction book recounting the incredible story of the child murder at Road Hill House in 1860. Mr Whicher was the pioneering Metropolitan police detective who investigated the case, which shook his reputation even though he was proved correct in his suspicions. The second film, which is two hours long, is written by Bafta-award-winning Neil McKay (Appropriate Adult, See No Evil: the Moors Murders) and will be filming in Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and London over the next four weeks. It’s a fictional story based on historical research into Whicher’s career, with Olivia Colman playing Susan Spencer, who employs the detective to investigate the murder of her 16-year-old niece.

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2012’s ten best crime shows

Here’s CrimeTimePreview‘s rundown of 2012 crime series that held a gun to our head and demanded to be watched. The year saw the usual mix of the good (below), the bad (Silent Witness) and the plodding (Midsomer Murders, Lewis). But there were others that were excellent – Sebastian Bergman, Elementary, Southland, Restless – that couldn’t be fit into this Top 10. Anyone who doesn’t agree with this selection is welcome, of course, to fire away in the comment box below. In the meantime, there are some terrific new series to look forward to in 2013. Happy viewing!

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes

Channel 4
The first series is the one I’m talking about here (series two stretched the premise to breaking point). This succeeded as a thriller by depicting interesting, flawed characters in Brodie, the returning war ‘hero’, and Carrie, the damaged CIA operative who was made to look a fool but was right about Brodie all along. Claire Danes was terrific, nearly matched by Damian Lewis, but all the characters’ storylines – with the performances of David Harewood and Mandy Patinkin standing out – made it a drama packed with tension and lives on the edge.

The Bridge
Sofia Helin as Saga Norén, Kim Bodnia as Martin Rohde in The BridgeBBC4
Gave us the most unforgettable character of 2012 in the high-functioning but socially disastrous Saga Norén, played by Sofia Helin. The story began hauntingly with the discovery of a body on the international border on Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. While this was yet another story about an ingenious and implausibly elusive killer (The Killing 3 had the same kind of unbelievably omnipotent evil-doer), it was the story of the Swedish Saga and her irresponsible Danish counterpart Martin Rohde that made this so intriguing and fresh. A second series should appear in late 2013, while the Americans – of course – are doing a version that kicks off on a bridge between Mexico and the US.

Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund in The Killing series 3 BBC4

The Killing 3
Farewell, Sarah Lund. You departed in style, if a little hurriedly, but what a way to go. Self-destructive as ever, you managed to take the law into your own hands with some vigilante justice for the evil Reinhardt and destroy your own happiness at the same time. What a woman! Series one remains the best, despite all its irritating red herrings, but The Killing 2 and 3 maintained levels of depth and ambition rarely seen from the Beeb or ITV.

Shaun Evans as Morse in Endeavour ITV1

A pilot prequel that fleshed out the Inspector Morse legend intelligently and entertainingly – and had the desired effect of leading to a series commission (watch out for four 120-minute episodes in 2013). Shaun Evans was the young Morse was charismatic and suitably introspective, and the investigation into the disappearance of a teenage girl was powerful, while also offering insights into events that moulded the detective. Roger Allam was excellent as Morse’s boss, Thursday.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock 2 BBC1

Sherlock 2
Wit, mystery and sumptuous performances – the second series was must-see television, and finished with a mighty cliffhanger as social media went into a flutter about Sherlock’s apparent death plunge in The Reichenbach Fall. The series also gave us The Hounds of Baskerville and A Scandal in Belgravia, featuring a tantalising Lara Pulver as Irene Adler. In a year that saw a good American rehash of the Beeb’s contemporary take on Holmes – Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu – Sherlock still easily out-dazzled the upstart.

Walton Goggins, Timothy Olyphant in Justified

Justified 3
Most UK viewers have not discovered Justified, which is tucked away on 5USA, but it is a hidden gem. Based on stories by the superb Elmore Leonard, the series takes us into Kentucky and the law-enforcement world of trigger-happy deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens, played with panache by Timothy Olyphant. The third series was another corker and gave us a fresh gallery of nasty rogues, including the butcher Limehouse and the sexual sadist Quarles. Leonard ranks this as one of the best adaptations of his books, and that includes Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. Watch out for series four.

Good Cop
Finishing on a rather oblique note – with Sav going into the sea and apparently surrendering to the waves – was a mark of how mature and deeply felt this drama was. It spurned stupid plot twists to zoom in on the human drama, that of the good man who finds himself doing bad things. At first the audience may have cheered him when he turned vigilante, but by the end he had gone off the rails.
A powerful story of a man surrounded by people – ailing dad, female police partner, lover – but emotionally stranded, having ruined his chance of happiness with the mother of his daughter. The acting was brilliant and affecting, the Liverpool setting was fresh and interesting, and the story unforgettable. It should be the making of Warren Brown as a leading man.

Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire 3

Boardwalk Empire 3
Sky Atlantic
British TV can only dream of making a crime drama on this scale. The cast, the stunning period production and the writing put it in a league of its own. The story of Prohibition-era Atlantic City and its corrupt county treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) reached 1923, when our antihero was balancing a mistress and wife, and his political and criminal empires. Fictional and real historical figures – Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano – were joined in this series by the new psychotic Sicilian in town, the fictional Gyp Rosetti. The series reached a spectacular gang war climax and was, as it has been from the start, fascinating and unforgettable.

Murder: Joint Enterprise
Channel 4
I’ve included this because it was a fresh drama that explored the messiness of crime and the difficulty of  finding the truth behind it – and here the police fail and the wrong person is convicted. Birger Larsen, the director of The Killing, hauntingly portrayed Nottingham with an outsider’s eye, in a story that blitzed the fallacy of so many cop shows with their neat solutions. Karla Crome and Joe Dempsie were first-rate as the pair caught in a nasty tussle of guilt and accusation.

Accused 2
Writer Jimmy McGovern attracts the best actors to his stories of injustice and moral dilemmas. This second series of one-off dramas started boldly with Sean Bean in stilettos as a transvestite whose love for a married man (played by Stephen Graham) ends in horror. Anne-Marie Duff, Olivia Colman, Sheridan Smith, Ewen Bremner and Anna Maxwell Martin all featured in dramas that were unsentimental but full of surprises and sharply depicted characters. Engrossing and thought-provoking.

Pics: BBC, ITV, C4, C5, BSkyB

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