So far, Modus has been a slow, pot-boiler of a thriller. We’ve followed various narrative strands (very Scandi Noir) drift hither and thither and followed a chisel-jawed, ex-US Marine, Richard Forrester, as he’s been bumping off homosexuals in Stockholm.
BBC4 – that great beacon of Saturday-night, foreign-language drama – has been in a bit of limbo for the past month or so. As the seasons have turned and we’re now ensconced into something darker and colder, the channel has recently broadcast Australian dramas The Code and Dark Water. Fair enough, but they just didn’t feel like a good fit in terms of tone and palette – watching characters call each other ‘mate’, running along beaches and wearing flip-flops at every opportunity just didn’t feel right in the middle of autumn and winter. But now we have something that fits in beautifully with the winter aesthetic and feel – a new eight-part, Swedish crime drama set during Christmas. Surely a sweet spot for Scandi noir fans and something to get the internal glögg bubbling.
NB: Spoilers coiled inside
We all know that we can’t get enough Scandi stuff, and it has been a while since we saw something from the Nordic region (not counting Netflix’s Iceland-set drama The Lava Field (review here), so it’s very welcome news that ITV Encore (who broadcast Jordskott last year) has picked up Swedish crime drama, Ängleby. And now we also know when it’s going to be broadcast.
So here we are back in Scandinavia. It feels like a while since we’ve been in Denmark (well, not that long actually… we were there for February’s Follow The Money on BBC4), but this new five-part drama (for UK broadcast it has been re-packaged into five feature-length episodes instead of the 10 stand-alones that appeared in its native Denmark) is back on more familiar ground. The series has been adapted from Elsebeth Egholm’s novels (Egholm was also the creator of Scandi noir hit from 2011, Those Who Kill) and stars Iben Hjejle as crime journalist Dicte Svendsen who returns to her home town of Aarhus to not only confront ghosts from her past but also to help the police solve a gruesome murder investigation. So far, so crime-drama-by-the-numbers, but what sets Dicte apart from the rest is a good pace, and, unusually for a Scandinavian crime drama, a character that feels more three-dimensional than usual.
NB: Spoilers ahoy
We all know that anything that comes out of Scandinavia, especially crime drama, will not only be snapped up by British channels almost instantly but watched with extreme glee by plenty of Scandi fans. We’re always interested in new dramas from those northern European countries, so this story ticks some boxes. But it also showcases the global reputation of Scandinavian drama, because these two Danish dramas have been snapped up by US channels and productions companies for remakes… even though one of them hasn’t even aired yet.
We’re into the home straight now with this bonkers, sometimes brilliant, sometimes unintentionally hilarious Swedish thriller and I’m certainly none the wiser as to what’s going on. Which, in all seriousness, is a testament to how good the plotting is. It’s kept me interested without revealing too much – you never quite know how this is going to go. To pull this off, you have to have absolute conviction with your story, even though it’s the daftest yarn seen on television this year. Then you have to follow this conviction through with utter, determined commitment. If you believe in what you’re doing, so will the audience. And that’s what Henrik Björn and his team have displayed through these five, and now six episodes. Once you’ve bought into this, it’s hard not to be at least intrigued by Jordskott and, on some levels, completely gripped by it.
Last week we brought you news of Hans ‘The Bridge’ Rosenfeldt’s upcoming project with ITV (read that story here), and now we get wind of a new culture-clash crime drama from the producers of The Bridge, Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, that has been ordered by French behemoth, Canal Plus. In the world of The Bridge it’s safe to say that it’s all going off – anyone connected with the Swedish/Danish co-pro is currently hot property. And so they should be. Let’s get to the details…