A body is found on the Øresund Bridge, on the border between Sweden and Denmark. Swedish and Danish police investigators Saga and Martin work together to find the culprit.
We had dinner with friends recently and were talking about this show, and James referred to Saga as “probably Emma’s favourite character in anything ever.” And I think he’s right, she really delighted me. She’s autistic, although that term is never actually used in the show – she’s referred to as “odd” or “different”, and one colleague gives her the nickname “Wiki” for her tendency to reel off obscure facts. Basically though, her focus is always on solving the case, and she doesn’t have time for social niceties, which is pretty refreshing. That might make her sound like a bit of a ruthless machine, but she is very likeable – at times sweet, thoughtful, funny, and always with a childlike curiosity that’s very endearing.
Enough about Saga though! The series covers one case per series, like The Killing and Broadchurch, which I much prefer to the usual format of one case to one episode. And like in those two shows, this allows the story to develop further than just a problem-solving exercise from the perspective of the police, and other characters (victims, suspects etc) to be fleshed out. The story lines in series 1 and 2 were convoluted enough to provide twists and turns and false leads, and were fascinating. I’ll admit that throughout series 3, I lost track of who was who, but strangely it didn’t matter, because there was so much meaty drama going on alongside the actual case that it was still arguably the best season. The show’s creator has implied that three seasons might be it, but they’ve set up a couple of stories ready to go for season 4, so I really really hope they carry on for one more.
Gotham is a prequel to the Batman franchise(s). It starts with the Waynes’ murder, and continues along with young Bruce trying to work out who was responsible, with help from Jim Gordon, at that time a rookie homicide cop. Jim, meanwhile, is also trying to single-handedly take on all corruption in Gotham, which is no mean feat. I think James has enjoyed spotting the beginnings of well-known Batman characters, but as I hadn’t previously seen any of the films (I’m on it, I’ve now seen Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), I was mainly trying to enjoy it for its own merits. And even after the 20 episodes of season 1, and the first couple of season 2, I’m still undecided. Ben McKenzie is quite robotic as Jim Gordon, and I can’t work out whether it’s intentional or just bad acting. Overall, the show is pretty grim, and although that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I do, after all, love Tarantino films, and the police dramas mentioned above, which don’t exactly display the most shining examples of humanity), I’m not sure what else Gotham has going for it other than being violent, depressing and a bit mad, if that’s what you’re into.
Vikings brings to life the world of, surprisingly enough, the Vikings. The star is Ragnar Lothbrok, but there are lots of names you might recognise, including the shieldmaidens Lagertha and Brynhildr, and Ragnar’s sons Björn Ironside, Ivar the Boneless and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. Ragnar is a great protagonist, clever, funny and fiercely ambitious, and leads his friends and family to renown raiding in Britain and France. There’s a lot of sex and nudity, a lot of violence, and SO MUCH BLOOD. Above all though, there are interesting storylines, excitement and action, and characters that I genuinely care about. I get frustrated when they do something stupid, sad when they’re hurt, and happy when they succeed, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next. Oh, and along with great plot and acting (including admirable commitment to accents!) there’s also the beautiful Fjord backdrop – occasionally I’d get wrapped up in some dialogue and forget about the location, and then be blown away by it all over again – and I love the attention to detail of the props, sets, wardrobe and hair.
What have you been watching lately?
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