THE BRIDGE Tuesday 29 May, 2012

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Scandinavian TV drama shows British TV drama to be mainly shit. Again.

The Bridge is a Danish/Swedish co-production, which is fitting considering that the action centres around Malmo, Copenhagen and the bridge that connects the two. It’s another fine example of Scandinavian crime drama which follows The Killing to our shores.

The central characters are, an apparently autistic, Swedish detective Saga Noren (brilliantly played by Sofia Helin) and Danish detective Martin Rohde (protrayed by the equally brilliant Kim Bodnia – who I last saw smashing peoples faces up in Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 violence-fest ‘Pusher’). It’s an interesting take on the classic odd-couple scenario. Martin is, apparently, the warm, cuddly, pragmatic family man. Saga is cold, logical, socially inept, blunt and has an incisive intellect. The two work well against each other as a double act although I must admit I found it odd to see Kim Bodnia playing such a warm character after Pusher.

It’s wonderful to find such wonderful drama being created but at the same time it’s saddening to note the paucity of such quality being produce in the UK. The Bridge is intelligent, artful, complex and refuses to spoon-feed the audience. There are no neon-style character indicators which say things like ‘BAD MAN’ or ‘GOOD GUY’. The audience is allowed to interpret character traits for itself. How refreshing. In short The Bridge is all things that British crime drama isn’t. Recent BBC (I’m not even going to give ITV drama my time…having said that, Appropriate Adult wasn’t too bad but I’m not risking another one) crime drama output gave us Luther and Sherlock. Luther was shockingly simplistic and Sherlock had a good first run but by the second series had become far too packed with knowingly-winking in-jokes and superfluously labyrinthine plots. Those two dramas were blusteringly bad cases of style over substance. The Bridge is minimal and sparse by comparison but that is the beauty of it. Where Sherlock and Luther are just puff pieces The Bridge displays an awareness of social issues which face the populations of Sweden and Denmark. Something which our BBC dramas would do in a much more brain-dead and ham-fisted way. It’s not preachy but it hits just the right mark and asks the right questions.

It’s also got a wonderful theme song which is written and performed by Danish group, Choir of Young Believers.

The plotting may be a tad far fetched at times but this is forgivable given that the programme is so beautifully made. If you loved The Killing and you need a new fix of Scandi’ crime drama then The Bridge is the perfect tonic to slake your thirst. You’ll know you’ve had a treat when it finishes, leaving you wishing it was longer (insert unlike ex-girlfriend joke here).

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