The Bridge is currently filming in Sweden and Denmark and it’s very exciting really – we’re starting to get little drips of news filtering through from the set as the show gears up for its New Year’s Day transmission day (in northern Europe and the Nordic regions, at least). The news today is that Danish actor Mikael Birkkjær – who we all know and love from shows like The Killing and Borgen – has joined the cast of series four.
Last year we brought you news of an Icelandic series – Stella Blomvist – and the fact that one of the writers on Trapped, Óskar Thór Axelsson, had been drafted in to work on the project. It was an interesting premise: Based on a series of first-person novels penned by the pseudonymous Stella Blomkvist, a hard-nosed lawyer who takes on mysterious murder cases, the series delves into the murky waters of Icelandic politics, recently in the news in the aftermath of the “Panama Papers” scandal. No English-language translation exists, but the makers – who have been touting the series at the French Series Mania TV festival – have announced that there is now a lead.
Nordic Noir is dead we keep hearing. Broadcasters are now straying away from the tried and tested cop procedurals based in Scandinavia, we’re being told. Well, Bordertown is unashamedly Nordic Noir and it’s all the better for it. What do I mean by Nordic Noir? It’s based in Finland, and in a specific area with lots of history and conflict (Karelia), features an unconventional cop who, ahem, borders on the obsessed, and crimes that are both gruesome and contextualised with that ol’ socio-political ‘second story’. So far, so ‘by the numbers’ but I found the first three episodes of Bordertown (which was one story, called Nukkekoti Osa) to be really enjoyable and engaging, with characters that you believe in. Not revolutionary or groundbreaking, but good, watchable and gripping.
NB: Spoilers inside
Wouldn’t you just bloody know it? It was my birthday when this news broke and I was out and about doing birthday-like things, so I was away from the computer and missed the news that the much-anticipated fourth – and last – series of The Bridge will indeed transmit in 2018 (my prediction that we’d see it in 2017 was off, but just by one day!) in an event-like slot on an event-like day in its native Sweden.
The proliferation of foreign-language crime drama is widespread these days – it seems not a day goes by without a new series starting on either Walter Presents, Channel 4 or the BBC. And, in this case, Netflix. The global, streaming behemoth springs these little surprises on us from time to time, and Bordertown is one such surprise. A Finnish drama, I wondered when it would make its way to these shores. Finally, the day is here.
We’ve heard whistles in the wind that BBC4 – once the beacon of foreign-language crime drama in its 9pm Saturday slot – is looking for things that are slightly different. This chimes with recent articles in British newspaper The Guardian, which proclaimed that Nordic Noir as we know it is dead, and that broadcasters are looking for something different to what has been available; a new twist to the genre. So, with all that in mind it’s interesting the channel has gone back to Scandinavia to buy a Swedish thriller that has a touch of the horror genre about it.
If you’ve read Our Charlotte’s First Look piece on Midnight Sun (have a read here), you will know this French/Swedish series is one to watch. The fact that we haven’t really had a really good Nordic Noir on these shores in 2017 means that all eyes are on this cross-regional, good-looking eight-parter, which might – just might – provide us with the series we’ve been looking for.
NB: Spoilers inside