BBC4 The Bridge Episodes 1 and 2

A joint Swedish and Danish TV production originally titled Bron | Broen reflecting the bridge that joins the two countries and providing the setting for the opening scene, The Bridge aired on BBC4 last night.  If tempted to merge those Scandinavian countries into a generic smörgåsbord, think again.  One of the driving forces of this series is obviously the mêlée that arrives when these two countries are forced to join in an investigation.

If the series opened with a well-established cliché – amply gloved hands directing the wheel of a car – we soon received something different.  With the lights of the bridge out for less than one minute, a corpse was left right on the territorial line between Sweden and Denmark.  Before the first episode was over, we realised that the corpse was not one body but two different halves assembled across the line.  (Not so new a ploy in the plotting world as P D James had the Met at loggerheads with the City of London Police before Dalgleish won out on one case, but the grande dame kept to just one body.)

Thus we have two investigating cops on the case.  Taking charge is the Swedish side led by Saga Noren (Sofia Helin), while Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) pitches up for Denmark.  In that fine world of genetics, both prove that DNA is well-dispersed.  Saga is played as someone with (never confirmed) autism, with a very heavy hand on the paintbrush of depiction.  Quickly proving her intense focus on the case and its practicalities, a viewer’s suspension of disbelief becomes paramount regarding her other activities and reactions over personal aspects.  A line of credibility may have been passed over here; time will tell.  It’s just a little too hard to accept someone in charge of investigation who:

  1. has to ask about the normality of taking a personal call at work, and
  2. starts reviewing a case on a laptop next to a one night stand.

Martin is more par for course as a detective, albeit with five kids via three wives and a recent vasectomy to call a halt to his impressive procreation tendencies.  Both shared one thing over the course of the first two episodes: hand to groin scenes.  Get used to it; there’s a third one by the end of episode two.

Alongside the case in hand, The Bridge also presented two strands of story that firmly sat on the periphery for now.  A wife on the bridge at the time of discovery of the body was prevented by the rules-abiding Saga from taking her in-transit husband to Denmark for a life-saving heart transplant.  Saga was lost to humanity in her need to preserve the crime scene.  Martin later vetoed, leading to a report from Saga to the authorities, but the heart transplant couple’s story kept coming back with no link to the case. Ditto for a 1970s styled ‘social worker’ – we can only guess at the authenticity here – who re-homed an addict’s family in the middle of nowhere.  It was a delightful picture postcard setting for a new home, if only he had not been instrumental, leading to the creepy.  But how on earth do these stories connect to the main?

Then, heading back into cliché territory we have the (immoral) journo with whom the perp connects and communicates.  And when the messages – by whatever means – come into play, you know this thing is escalating …

The Bridge thus far is not breakthrough or groundbreaking TV, but it is exceedingly compelling.  Within just two episodes we have gone from corpse-on-the-bridge to motivated campaign for something concerning matters of social justice.  Well worth a watch and the ensuing Saturday night dedication.

See Mrs Peabody for more commentary on the opening night.

11 thoughts on “BBC4 The Bridge Episodes 1 and 2

  1. Mrs P.

    Thanks for your great review and the link, Rhian.

    I agree that the depiction of Saga could have been slightly more restrained, but am in a forgiving mood as openers are tricky to handle (getting the balance right between establishing characters and getting the storyline moving). I was able to suspend disbelief quite quickly – Saga is clearly very good at what she does, and her boss seems to look out for her and steer her back on course when needed.

    You don’t mention the dark humour: this was an important part of the package for me, and softened Saga’s portrayal. I found the scene when she was looking at the autopsy pictures as her date woke up ‘the morning after’ very funny. A lesson how not to secure that all-too-tricky second date! I remember thinking as I watched it that viewers’ reactions to the series would depend a fair bit on whether they liked that humour or not (and that’s a very subjective thing I know).

    Am looking forward to the next installment already…

    1. crimeficreader Post author

      Ah yes, I forgot to mention the humour. The car bomb scene got me. Great dark humour. The laptop in bed scene however, was one that detracted from her credibility I thought. And there are also quite a few characters coming across as creepy…

  2. booketta

    I have to say I loved it. I agree with the clichéd portrayal of someone with aspergers or autism, but I loved her quirkiness. I also liked seeing the darker side of Denmark and Sweden that is often not shown with such realism. I can’t wait for next week’s episodes.

  3. gojiramonkey

    Fantastic stuff…not quite the gravitas of Forbrydelsen or Wallander (or the sublime Engrenages for that matter) but I could watch Kim …Bodnak (???) till my eyes turn into dusty hollow sockets, he is superb – been a big fan since the technicolour slapstick knockabout light-heartedness of PUSHER waaay back and he has the most brilliantly yet subtly expressive face EVER ! The Swedish female detective COULD stretch suspending yer disbelief occasionally (esp. that whole one night stand bit…either that or I gotta move to Sweden hahaha – hey the home of Opeth AND Henrik Larsson ) but I am definitely hooked as usual on the cold, the dark and the underbelly of liberal scandinavia being exposed as rotten and white…Erm SORRY went a bit pseuds corner there…apologies…So a BIG M THUMBS UP DEVIL’S HORN FROM GOJIRAMONKEY…roll on next Saturday…

  4. gojiramonkey

    Actually the autopsy photos after the one night stand were presented in a similar tone to William Peterson’s Will Graham in Manhunter (the original and best…the rest are just so much fluff !!) when he is studying photos on a commercial flight as if it is normal despite the fact he is surrounded by families (I won’t point out the irony in THAT hahaha ) and he falls asleep and a child sees them…but yes it was typical scandinavian black humour (as oppose to Norwegian Black Metal I guess…!!) But she is still an interesting quirky a la Sherlock rather than annoying and I guess we’ll get used to her and love her for it…trying to file her bridge ambulance pass report with no sight of creating a wall between them was fantastic.

  5. gojiramonkey

    I used to live in Denmark – Aarhus to be precise – and I guess I walked around with my eyes closed because I thought it was a paradise hahaha..WHERE DID ALL THIS CRIME COME FROM ????

  6. gojiramonkey

    Yeah I agree the car bomb scene was superb in the switch from tension to black humour

  7. gojiramonkey

    And I love the fact he never had a go at her for trying to wring info out of a scared and dying man either !!

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