Now that Hulu began streaming FX’s adaptation of this Danish/Swedish serial crime drama, English speakers might be tempted to watch the Americanized adaptation of The Bridge first. Don’t. Brave the subtitles and Malmö female detective Saga Norén’s icy, Aspergerish, by-the-books blank stare.
Slow to set its layers down, the pilot of The Bridge (Danish / Swedish version) boasts a heart-pounding penultimate scene. Once safely (or precariously) into episodes two and three, the storytelling and acting won’t fail to clutch you. Strategic character building, subtle clues, and red herrings abound in this moody thriller, a stylistic echo of The Killing (also a Danish import).
The drama begins when a figure from an SUV plops female body parts on the Øresund bridge borderline, where Sweden meets Denmark. Saga must work with affable charmer Martin Rohde, the Danish policeman assigned to their joint task force to figure out why and who. Soon the relationship between this odd pairing becomes just as absorbing, if not more so, than the case they’re working. A genius sleuth, Saga tugs Martin to hunt creatively for a serial killer hell bent on critiquing the treatment of the indigent though hypocritically killing random homeless people.
Martin plays a gentle tutor to Saga, training her in social cues and empathy (faked if necessary). Both characters invest in their intimate working dynamic—this is a buddy story—yet there are no simple A-Z character arcs at work.
The Bridge (Bron/Broen)’s plot twists vary in predictability. However, when it counts, creator Hans Rosenfeldt tricks viewers into believing they’ve made vital connections ahead of the detectives, only to honestly throw them, allowing them to piece things together after the fact.
The Danish-Swedish version of The Bridge (Bron/Broen) excels within the mystery/thriller genre, filling in characters and their potential motives with such detail that we’re constantly recalculating in dialogue with Saga’s mathematical and semi-sociopathic mind. She puts us in creepy tune with the baddies’ likely strategies. Meanwhile, Martin bumbles passionately into the fray. He’s a flaky, fraught and lovable hero, learning that following his instincts invariably has consequences.
If you’re a fan of broody crime series like Luther or Wallander and are looking for another show to fill in the binge hole for now, The Bridge (Bron/Broen) is an excellent candidate. A note on the American version of The Bridge: FX’s series has its own charms. While it follows Bron/Broen’s plot closely, its shift in locale to the El Paso and Juárez border provides a rich setting, distinct from the original series’ environment and tone.
TV HACK finds both worth streaming, even if FX’s version pales in comparison to The Bridge Danish/Swedish-style, at least initially.
TV HACK Rating
- The Bridge