In the UK: Saturdays, 9pm, BBC4. Available on the iPlayer
In Sweden and Denmark: Aired last September on SVT1 and DR1. Second series commissioned for broadcast in 2013
It can’t have escaped your notice that the world is falling in love with Scandinavian darkness. As I’ve previously remarked, British TV certainly has, with BBC1 and BBC4 taking the lead with shows like Denmark’s The Killing, The Killing 2 and Borgen and Sweden’s Wallander (as well as the home-grown Kenneth Branagh version), and ITV3 making a stab at it with Denmark’s Den Som Dræber (Those Who Kill). But even the US has spotted the trend and as well as remaking Sweden’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movies, it’s adapted Denmark’s The Killing, now in its second season.
Do you know who else has noticed this trend? Scandinavians, that’s who. Spotting a golden opportunity to finally export a few shows rather than having to buy in 24 and Friends to fill the airwaves, Scandinavia is seizing it with both hands. Now Danish and Swedish TV have got together to create something that while entirely Scandinavian in character still has an eye on the worldwide market: The Bridge (aka Bron/Broen depending on whether you’re Swedish or Danish).
The story is seemingly simple: on the Øresun bridge between Copenhagen in Denmark (ooh, where The Killing is set!) and Malmö in Sweden (ooh, where Wallander is set!), someone leaves a body precisely halfway of the border between the two countries. This means that both Swedish and Danish police have to investigate, forcing an uneasy alliance between two apparent stereotypes who quickly reveal themselves to be a lot more than merely the Swedes and the Danes’ mutual national images: an icy female Swedish detective with Asperger’s (ooh, Dragon Tattoo!) and a salt-of-the-earth male Danish detective. But before investigations have gotten very far, it soon becomes obvious that this is just the tip of a very elaborate plan, one designed to change both countries and their ideas of justice.
And despite the fact it doesn’t have the emotional depth of The Killing, that it’s a little bit unrealistic and there is that slight hint to everything of a global market being eyed, this is actually really good television. So good, in fact, that despite it airing two episodes a week on BBC4 and my PVR actually recording Girls of the 90s on Viva the first time it aired, I actually found time to buck my normal trend and watch it before the next two episodes air tonight. Isn’t that amazing?
Here’s a trailer in Danish, because the BBC, in their infinite wisdom, haven’t put anything up on YouTube in English – although it’s worth remembering that when the show aired in both Sweden and Denmark it had to be subtitled whenever the other country’s characters spoke, so we’re all in it together, here. There’s also a little snippet from the beginning of the first episode as well, because it has a lovely opening sequence that I thought I’d share with you.