The Bridge: A Scandi-drama lover’s delight

For anyone who has got totally sucked into Nordic Noir, via The Killing, or Nordic political drama, via Borgen, the new BBC4 series, The Bridge should be essential viewing. The premise is that super efficient, leather trouser wearing Swedish detective Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) and laid back, bearded Danish detective, Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia), meet on the Øresund bridge that links their two countries when a body is discovered bang in the middle.

The ‘body’, we then discover, is, in fact, two halves from different people, and their murders were just the beginning of a nasty series of deaths in Malmö and Copenhagen. So, despite having a very different approach to life and detective work, Saga and Martin end up having to cooperate to find the killer.

If you want a detailed analysis of The Bridge, episode by episode, have a look at the Guardian series blog. I’m just going to tell you why you should watch it:

  • It’s smart and sometimes really odd. In a good way
  • I do get foxed and perplexed about who is who and just WTF is going on sometimes, but that’s ok
  • The character of Saga, (somewhat disconcerting in the first episode until you figure out she has Asperger’s), is utterly compelling. The scene in the second episode when she picks up a one night stand had me simultaneously shrieking and hiding behind a cushion, then shrieking into the cushion
  • Bear-like, groin rubbing Martin is a lovely contrast to her, and for some reason, it amuses me that we meet him just after he’s had a vasectomy (“I’m tired and my dick hurts”)
  • Like The Killing and Borgen, it’s beautifully shot, inside and out. Lots of night-time action (is it cheaper and easier to film then, I wonder?)
  • There’s often great tension  –  I love the scene with the obnoxious journalist being trapped in his car with a ticking bomb. But this is tempered by some funny bits
  • I’m intrigued by Stefan, the unnerving social worker who has the looks, facial hair and outfits of a 1970s porn star, and a bit of an odd relationship with body lotion
  • It’s a delicious mix of Swedish and Danish, even down to the fact that both languages are used in every episode in conversations between police officers (Danish and Swedish are, more or less, mutually intelligible), which adds to the interesting dynamic that is revealed about the relationship between the countries and their perceptions of each other. As far as I understand it, Danes see Swedes as wealthy and ‘up-themselves’, and Swedes see Danes as far too laid back and hedonistic. Apparently, there are as many jokes that begin ‘There was this Swede, Dane and Norwegian…’ as there ever have been ‘There was an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman…’
  • It just feels like, 3 episodes in for me, that there’s lots of exciting and probably terrifying twisty-turny stuff ahead of us. I can’t wait

Catch it on iPlayer while you can

Posted by Inkface


Filed under Detective/police drama

2 responses to “The Bridge: A Scandi-drama lover’s delight

  1. Corumba Love

    Morning Inks

    Not seen the whole first episode yet (usually stack this kind of thing up to get that seamless experience) but for an odd & mildly coincidental reason, I have watched the first couple of minutes during which the body is found on the bridge.

    For reasons bizarre, my main work at the moment on english translations of Danish documents and press-releases. I don’t speak the language but by matching google’s crude and inaccurate offerings against the slightly less rough translations by the client, my job is turn the general donkeyness of the prose into passable english.

    Anyway, one of the clients is the operating company behind Øresund Bridge who issued a proud release about the shooting of the bridge scenes. I was entirely unaware that the programme had arrived on the BBC until I started digging around for background reading to help with the translation.

    Long story short: the press release was in swedish (my first one) and there had been no time for someone to do the rough english. I know a fair bit about the bridge as a structure already but it did mean that the translation came down to me, google (& bing) and poetic license that I requested and was granted.

    The reason why I needed to see that first couple minutes was that the release was ambiguous about the number of extras that were scattered about (50 or 500). Viewing suggested closer to 50.

    Be warned: CL will return once The Bridge (as opposed to the bridge) has been crossed.

    Neat review, by the way.


    ps: Your observation “is it cheaper and easier to film then, I wonder” … in this house we are huge fans of all things zombie and were glued to AMC’s “THe Walking Dead” over the last few months. The second season which finished recently had its budget cut by some $250k an episode ($3m in total) with the money being re-allocated to Mad Men. Anyway, the upshot was a high proportion of the series being shot at night – this was especially true of those scenes where the undead were knocking about (that make-up don’t come cheap).

  2. inkface

    Mr Love, how very nice to hear from you again. And with such interesting things to say as well. I’ve nicked your neat ‘Ø’ for Øresund Bridge the blog btw!