Into the top 10…
And so, just like that, we’re into our Top 10.
It’s been a fun experience revisiting some of these series, and it’s evident that the quality has been really good this year despite disruption behind the camera. We may not have had many of the really big-hitters this year, but in their place have come thoughtful, well-made and brilliant series that we’ve enjoyed a great deal, for different reasons.
Hit us up with your own comments below – after all this is a largely subjective business and everyone’s opinion counts!
10 Deadwind (Karppi) (Series 10)
Helsinki detective Sofia Karppi (Pihla Viitala) returned for a second series of this prime slice of Nordic Noir. The Finnish series began when two separate bodies, one in Helsinki and one on the other side of the Gulf OF Finland, in Estonia, were found. One victim had been hanged, one had been frozen to death, but both were blindfolded and both worked on a ship that toed and froed between Finland and Estonia. As the story developed, the two murders were found to be linked, and soon Karppi and investigative partner Sakari Nurmi (Lauri Tilkanen) were plunged into an ever-escalating and thoroughly engrossing tale of an avenging angel wreaking havoc in two countries. Now The Bridge is firmly in the rear-view mirror, Deadwind (Karppi) fills the void admirably.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF SERIES TWO OF DEADWIND
BBC Four (UK)
We’re so used to Nordic Noirs and their well-worn templates that we thought we knew how DNA was going to go. But we were wrong. Instead, we got an outstanding series that in many ways rewrote the rulebook and gave us something fresh, bold and new. From the mind of The Killing co-creator Torleif Hoppe, this eight-part series sought to mesh procedural police work with questioning the role of forensics in a case – how can cases from different time periods be joined together? What are the dots that join them? And are forensics everything they’re cracked up to be? The story followed Copenhagen-based detective Rolf Larsen (Anders W. Berthelsen), who loses his baby daughter on a ferry trip to Poland while investigating a case of child abduction. Five years later, Larsen is still convinced his daughter is alive and soon he’s on a case whose tendrils have spread from Denmark into France and back into Poland. Working concurrently with Larsen’s narrative strand is that of young Polish woman Julia (a superb Zofia Wichlacz), whose journey from teenage pregnancy to a sinister nunnery was engrossing and emotive. When the two strands came together in devastating fashion, DNA revealed itself to be a thoughtful and skillfully told (including an excellent, sleight-of-hand twist), as well as a heartbreaking study of parenthood and all that status means.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEWS OF DNA
8 Dare Me
Adapted from her own best-selling novel, Megan Abbott’s Dare Me was a 10-part noir thriller that used the backdrop of a high-school cheerleading team to tell its intense, disturbing story. It centred around Addy (Herizen F. Guardiola) and Beth (Marlo Kelly), the two leaders of the group, whose world turned upside down when a new coach was employed by the school. Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald) was a cool, enigmatic, sophisticated urbanite who Addy fell instantly in love with, while Beth felt threatened by her emergence. From then on the three engaged in a simmering, toxic feud that laid waste to all around them. Manipulation, savagery, intense rivalry, and a terrific twist at the end… Dare Me was a neon-lit, contemporary battle royale.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF DARE ME
7 The Deuce (Series 3)
Sky Atlantic (UK), HBO (UK)
The final series of David Simon and George Pelecanos’s The Deuce was everything you wanted and more. For two series we had gotten to know the huge cast of characters residing in New York’s dangerous and lawless quarter, as it charted the rise and fall of sex workers-turned-porn stars, pimps, policemen, councillors, barmen and common criminals with such emotional impact that by the end of this AIDs-ravaged third series, we were left in pieces. Favourite characters died (some lost to the new pandemic, while some, like Lori Madison (Emily Meade) were consumed by the porn industry and the march of time), some ended relationships, some even blossomed, but The Deuce once again showed that Dickensian, multi-layered characterisation and unique, warts-and-all, 360-degree approach to crime and its consequences that Simon and Pelecanos have become famed for. Elegiac, heartbreaking and powerful – and with a final scene that was so momentous, emotional and poignant that it left you open-mouthed – The Deuce ended perfectly.
READ MORE: ALL OUR REVIEWS OF THE DEUCE
6 The Twelve (De Twaalf)
Walter Presents/All4 (UK)
There had been a buzz building around this Dutch courtroom drama for a while, and, as it turned out, the hype was entirely justified. In the dock was Frie Palmers (Maaike Cafmeyer), who stood accused of murdering her baby daughter Roos earlier that year and, in 2000, her best friend Brechtje Vindevogel. Throughout the course of the series, and thanks to a series of flashbacks, we saw her relationship between her husband Mike and Brechtje develop, and a series of witnesses enter the dock to tell their versions of the story. This heady mix meant that we were all kept on tenterhooks as the slow-release of information led to twists aplenty. And playing concurrently to the court case were the stories of the jurors themselves, each at crisis points in their lives. A brilliantly constructed series, and full of memorable characters, The Twelve (De Twaalf) was a satisfying rollercoaster ride.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF THE TWELVE