Nordic TV Noirs

After quite a while –certainly of laziness due mostly to Twitter– this blog regains consciousness, at last. True, this happens while my arts of teaching are again awakened from the two classes I’m teaching –please, go check Computing Fundamentals, Inf103 ( and New Digital Media and Social Networks (Inf115,

But this post has nothing to do with classes. Instead it deals with the passion of many and myself: great tv series. At least, some great tv series. I am not alone, but helped in this titanic entreprise by at least two excellent blogs: El País’ Quinta Temporada (Fifth Season) and The Guardian’s TV and Radio blog assembly. The few readers left here remember my passion for Dexter and Forbrydelsen, the great Danish series in 3 seasons which is loved by the world as a cult. Forbrydelsen was remade in the US under the same title -The Killing-, certainly good but likely not the same level of the Nordic original. I just want to share here the simple fact that Forbrydelsen is over –definitely over– over the enormous success of its third and last season. Sarah Lund (Sophie Grabøl) was shown in all her hard and antisocial character –always wearing her Faeroe Islands jumper–, at a moment in which, after a dim chance of recomposing her fragile recolciliation with family, work, etc., she loses it all again in a spellbinding last chapter. Impossible to forget, her character, as well as the stories, the politics entering all the aspects of life, and life itself, which constantly puts her and her team to the test. I’ll never forget the first chapter of the first season: the massive hunt in the meadows for a disappeared girl, the perfect description of every character in 45 minutes and the perfect definition of story, plot and characters. And of course, the perfect portrayal of this woman-detective, with great dialogue, lines, acting.

Now, I am watching another noir Dane-Swede production: The Bridge. Nice and dark series, again a policewoman directing the show -and the investigation on a corpse cut in two halves just at the line separating Denmark and Sweden, on a bridge. This woman, Saga (nice name) is a candid character with no social skills. “I slept with your son”. “It doesn’t mean I has sex with him”. She has to collaborate with a Dane inspector who is an almost positive guy, but cheating on his wife.

The Bridge is good storytelling. Like Forbrydelsen it is dark, and all colors are filtered through rain, snow or no color at all. Cold and noir, full of good acting and believable, unforgettable characters. Let’s wait more momentum to build up and we’ll see.

However, I think there’s another very very good show, which has at least foru seasons going and comes from France. SpiralIt is Engrenages (literally, clockwork, but title instead “Spiral” in the Anglo world). It is a series –in the style of The Wire– of memorable characters, including captain Laure Berthaud and her lieutenant Gilles “Gilou” Escoffier. Laure is brilliant in her pride and hard beauty, and masterfully portrayed by this Caroline Proust who never gets any beat wrong and blesses the show with many innuendos, half smiles and pure force. The series shows policemen and prosecutors, judges and lawyers as shameful as possible in their embracing corruption and many more human vices, but vey much human and real. You must watch it, and it’s free on Netflix. Ah, to know more, go read Spiral, a beginner’s guide on The Guardian.

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About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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