Rig 45 has been around for a while – since 2018, in fact. When this Danish series was first mooted there was a frisson of excitement. It boasted an intriguing concept and a great cast. So the fact that it has only now made it to the UK is a slight concern. Usually a show that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while is because it’s not that great, or because there’s a budget or contract consideration.
It’s safe to say that the alarm bells were ringing when I sat down to watch episode one.
So let’s get into it. Somewhere in the North Sea (I’m guessing it’s the North Sea) is an oil rig, populated by a crew that’s essentially locked in. A Finnish staff member is on a harness and up high, making repairs on one of the towers when she becomes disorientated and short of breath. A hitherto redoubtable and well-liked member of the team, Ritva eventually falls to her death despite the best efforts of her colleagues. A terrible accident.
Or was it?
Called out to investigate the accident is Andrea, sent by the rig owners to find out what happened and to see if they’re liable for any insurance money. In fact, insurance money is playing heavily on the crew when she arrives. Rig 45 follows a pattern we see in all locked-room mysteries – an investigator shows up and the people locked in are all suspicious. The uneasy atmosphere takes a turn when Andrea is attacked and knocked unconscious when she goes to inspect the contents of Ritva’s locker, but her attack is dismissed by some as fiction. She must have slipped and bumped her head.
And all of Andrea’s investigations of course take place in darkness – no lights are turned on at any point. And as she begins to find strange things and disturbing patterns of behaviour in the crew, there’s lots of whispering in corridors, scowls from some of the crew quite obviously being set-up as the bad guys (Douglas, in particular) and it’s quite obvious that there are secrets bubbling under the surface.
So far, so familiar. In fact, we saw many of these tropes in Vigil last year.
It has a great cast fill of familiar faces, that is not in doubt – Gary Lewis, Ciaran McMenamin, David Dencik, Christian Hillborg, and the brilliant Søren Malling, for instance. And they all mostly speak in English, occasionally switching to Swedish or Danish. Because of this cast, the action and plot are fine, just fine. It’s nicely executed, the beats are scattered on point, it all looks really good and you can’t go wrong with a locked-room mystery.
But it all seems a bit flat. The dialogue and script – written by Ola Norén – has that stilted feel of a story written by a non-English speaker. All fine, but strangely off-kilter and not quite right. It doesn’t flow.
All that being said, on first watch Rig 45 isn’t the high-profile disaster it could’ve been. Instead, it’s a watchable, tense and fun series that is perfect for a bit of Friday-night escapism.
Rig 45: Murder At Sea is on More4 and All4 in the UK