Third-episode verdict: The Bridge (US) (FX)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US/Canada: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/7pm PT, FX
In the UK: Acquired by Fox, but probably won’t be broadcast

So double déjà vu time. We’ve been here before with the original The Bridge and three episodes into The Bridge (US) and we’re in almost identical places again – except this place isn’t quite as good as the original’s. 

In and of itself, The Bridge (US) is actually a pretty good show. Dealing with an apparent serial killer looking to make political points about immigration and poverty and inequity in the two countries, it sees an American detective (Diane Kruger) and a Mexican detective (Demián Bichir) investigating a double-murder on their US-Mexican border. It makes points and shows you situations you don’t normally see made in US shows. It also sees characters you don’t normally see in US shows: a female detective with Asperger’s and a Mexican detective who can do his job and isn’t on the take.

The trouble is it’s not quite as good as the original. In some ways, it’s an improvement. The political points made in the original didn’t work as well in two countries as relatively rich and egalitarian as Sweden and Denmark. Some of the plotting was looser and various threads also got dropped or introduced unnecessarily. Secondary characters in the El Paso police department are also better developed than those in Malmö’s.

But it falls apart slightly elsewhere. ‘Sonja Cross’ is no ‘Saga Norin’ – while Norin strode about unapologetically, a force of nature, an open-eyed innocent whose Asperger’s traits could cause her and others bafflement but that were also assets, here we have a character with few assets beyond being able to spot teeny tiny beads at a distance and who screws up constantly and knows it. The script is also clumsier in its efforts to show her Asperger’s, adding to the original lines that make no sense in someone her age. This is Asperger’s as disability rather than point of difference with potential strengths. It doesn’t help that Kruger can’t maintain the traits she’s chosen, alternating between avoiding eye contact and over-doing it in the first episode, then having normal eye contact in subsequent episodes.

The show also lacks the visual beauty of the original, the director and DOP being more interested in showing the squalor of Mexico, the expansive vistas of Texas and the clinical nature of the El Paso police station than bringing out the most from the characters. Our prime suspect so far doesn’t feel like a real person at all as a result, more a collection of studio make-up tics. Annabeth Gish’s sub-plot, while better and more plausible than the original’s, is also longer and duller so far.

Nevertheless, this is a good, solid cop show that’s unique and different in the world of US cop shows. How long will it last? Well, the ratings have been very good, so I can’t see any problems with it getting renewed. Trouble is, the original’s ending was very silly, so we could end up with a similar situation to The Killing (US)*, with a show renewed but people so annoyed with the ending that they don’t watch the next season. 

But I guess we’ll cross that bridge we come to it. Ho ho.

Barrometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Should get a second season at least

* Also like The Killing (US), we’ll probably end up with a mirror situation in terms of the stars, with the original’s female stars getting all the kudos, while the US remake will make (more of) a star of the male lead.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.