Here is my top five foreign TV series countdown.
1. Bron/Broen (2011 – )
Now this series initially got a lot of flack off the UK audience. The main reason being the character of Saga Noren was wooden and odd in her style. This as we watch through the first and second series is actually (as far as is hinted) that the gifted police officer has some form of Aspergers syndrome. This is never explicit, however through the incredible acting skills of Sofia Helin, we see Saga come to life, and hide the truth about her personality. Simply put it is a police crime drama, where two countries (Sweden and Denmark) are thrown together in order to solve the case of a dead body on the Oresund Bridge. (The bridge connects Copenhagen in Denmark to Malmo in Sweden). Because of this Martin Rohde and Saga Noren work together and a beautifully acted, and turbulent friendship is born onto our screen.
Now before I continue gushing on about Saga, this series has gone on to produce a second one and is now considered a huge hit in both the UK, Denmark and Sweden. The complexity of unfolding events, and continued explosive grand finale, the end of the second series all left us with a hole in our hearts. However fear not, Series three will be returning to our screen in the Autumn of 2015, and considering they were notching up over a million views on BBC, this series is going to be huge!
2. Spiral/Engrenages (2005 – )
This was a close second to the bridge simply because it’s extremely different in so many ways. The series is essentially a police – based crime drama, however, much more complicated. In too many series the criminal is caught, and the police have done their job. this series explores all the work that goes on when the police aren’t on the streets and of course the cases within the courts. Exploring the concept of Law and Order this series explores corruption, terrorist murders and so forth. If you want to watch something to get your teeth into this is the series. With engaging characters such as Laure Berthaud who is the maverick Police Captain, to the ruthless, and fiercely ambitious young lawyer Josephine Karlsson, there is no end to the utterly believable characters within this series.
There will be a series five which has been filmed, however there has been no official air date. This series may be the very last series so we all should await with baited breath.
3. Wallander (Swedish) (2005 – )
I had to put this one in. I have watched both the British and Swedish version and I’ve got to say although Kenneth Brannagh is good, he’s just not Wallander for me. The electrifying performance of Krister Henrikkson is incomparable. The maverick detective is truly a tortured hero, lending its self to the elements of a Greek tragedy at times. Solving cases and suffering from loneliness and alcoholism gives it a very heart rendering experience. This is shown through the brilliant portrayal of Wallander’s troubled relationship with his daughter, who is a junior officer until she commits suicide.
Wallander has been awarded for its challenging and beautifully crafted screenplay.
4. Forbrydelsen (The Killing) (2007 – 2012)
This crime series has been lauded for its features of the Danish landscape, plot lines and dark story telling cementing it as one of the best dramas to come out of Denmark. The series revolves around Sophie Lund and her team, however gives a huge emphasis on the families of the victims involved. Like Spiral this series included season – long story lines, rather than the usual one killing per episode. For this reason the series was called groundbreaking, and it is a format that both Bron/Broen and Spiral have both used, giving them huge success.
To give this series even more intrigue the director didn’t reveal who the murderer was to the cast. The only person who was told anything was the character Sophie Lund, where he mentioned that she wasn’t the killer. This series has also received critical acclaim for the wonderfully diverse and acting ability of the cast. The Killing will keep you on the edge of your seat with its clever and thought provoking story lines.
5. Borgen (2010 – )
Borgen is a political drama series telling the story of charismatic politician Birgitte Nyborg who becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark. Now this series has racked a shed load of awards, and it’s no secret why. It is an incredibly masterful series that shows how with power and wealth comes the loss of marriage and her daughters mental health. We are given a unique insight into politicians and how perhaps they can sometimes be given the benefit of the doubt. Whoever could have thought that Danish coalitions could be so interesting! The thing about this series is it shows true characters coming through. Such as knowing that we have let our families or loved ones down as a sacrifice for something else. The fact we can connect with the characters in this show is why it has been seen and enjoyed in seventy countries worldwide.
A couple of notable mentions:
Un Village Français