The year’s best of Scandi crime, drama, comedy and international acclaim released for your viewing pleasure!
We have imparted with our valued readers our very own Top Nordic Noir novels of 2015 and now we are happy to share the spotlight with the paramount television releases from Nordic Noir & Beyond in 2015.
*Warning: possible plot spoilers*
The Legacy – The Complete Season One
Released 2nd February 2015
The BAFTA and International Emmy Award-winning producers from DR Fiktion followed up their outstanding political series that charted the first female Danish Prime Minister of Borgen (2010-2013) with another powerful drama – The Legacy. Having also produced the iconic nail-biting crime trilogy The Killing (2007-2012), fans of Nordic quality television were given an alternative plot to be engrossed in – the dysfunctional Grønnegaard family to rival the likes of Thomas Vinterberg’s first Dogme95 film Festen (1998).
The prodigious Grønnegaard estate, home to artist and matriarch Veronika Grønnegaard, becomes the centre of contention amongst her children when she chooses to bequeath her home to daughter Signe “Sunshine” Larsen; adopted by another family as a child and who is unaware of her heritage. As Veronika’s somewhat estranged heirs Gro, Frederik and Emil come together to try and reconcile with Signe, their true colours and desires for their inheritance threatens to tear them apart.
The Legacy – The Complete Season Two
Released 27th July
Following the first season’s success, The Legacy won a string of awards at the Robert Festival in 2015: Best Danish TV Series (for creator-writer Maya Ilsøe and esteemed director Pernilla August), Best Actress for Trine Dyrholm, Best Actor for Carsten Bjørnlund, Best Supporting Actor for Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Best Supporting Actress for Lene Maria Christensen.
The finale of season one saw Signe moving into the estate after a harrowing court case that Frederik could not fathom losing. The explosive scenes culminated in the Grønnegaard clan being forced to accept defeat. Due to his dependence on receiving the inheritance he needed to fund his resort project in Thailand, Emil angers the wrong people and is incarcerated in a Thai jail. The second season continues with Gro campaigning for her younger brother’s release, while Frederik distances himself and shows he cannot move on from the past so easily. Signe struggles to turn her land into a thriving hemp farm and resolve the conflict with her estranged dynasty. While a new addition to the extended family arrives in a bundle of joy as eccentric musician Thomas discovers he is a father once again.
The Legacy stars Trine Dyrholm, Jesper Christensen, Lene Maria Christensen, Carsten Bjørnlund, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Marie Bach Hansen and Trond Espen Seim.
Released 8th June
The Second Schleswig-Holstein war is not only an ambiguous part of Danish history for many Scandinavians but has been highlighted now as a controversial moment in time on an international scale. Mainly due to the war being commemorated, despite the outcome as a significant and humiliating loss in the annals of Denmark’s history. This celebration of the war-time era has been committed to screen with Ole Bornedal’s epic miniseries that boasts a magnificent production design and an evocative score, as well as the biggest budget in Danish television of 173 million kroner.
Roving between parallel storylines set in 1850-1864 and modern day Denmark, a love affair centres round three young friends: Inge, Peter and his brother Laust. Following the victory of the First Schleswig-Holstein War between 1848 and 1850, spirits are high, yet the echoes of the frontline still bear scars for the returning soldiers. Peter and Laust grow up to enlist in the second war to fight the Prussian and Austrian armies, and the bond that has flourished with Inge is left in tragic uncertainty. In present day, disillusioned teenager Claudia is dealing with her family’s grief over her brother’s death, fighting in Afghanistan. When she is tasked to care for an aged and senile Baron, the mysterious link to the past enlightens her on the whole story of love and war from the 1800s.
1864 stars Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Bent Mejding, Marie Tourell Søderberg, Jens Sætter-Lassen, Jakob Oftebro, Nicolas Bro.
Released 10th August
Based on a true story, The Saboteurs (otherwise known as The Heavy Water War) depicts the catastrophic plot in 1943 to blow up the heavy water factory in the Norwegian mountains of Vemork, Rjukan. The series encompasses the events that ignite the surreptitious mission under the codename ‘Operation Gunnerside’. From the assistance of British forces in training to the breath-taking action and palpable tension that unite international resistance fighters into an epic combat. When The Saboteurs originally aired through NRK in January 2015, a total of 1.7 million viewers tuned in, with a high-grossing 100,000 in the UK on All 4.
The six-part series shines a light on both sides of the battle between Norway’s defensive strategies and Germany’s advances in technology with Nobel Prize winning physicist Werner Heisenberg. This is mirrored by its international cast, including Norwegian, German, Danish and British actors.
The Saboteurs stars Espen Klouman Høiner, Anna Friel, Christoph Bach, Frank Kjosås, Søren Pilmark, Dennis Storhøi, Pip Torrens.
Dag Season One
Released 5th October
Meet marriage counsellor Dag (Atle Antonsen) in his naturally negative habitat. He deflates the romantic ideals of his clients who simply, yet self-indulgently, wish for someone to fix their relationship. What they are not expecting is the harsh pessimism from a man who uses his Pez dispenser for taking Valium. However, this dry and generally misanthropic protagonist is soon lost for even the bluntest of words when he experiences an unexpected ‘meet-cute’ with Eva, set up on a blind date by his sister Marianne.
The award-winning stand-up comedian Antonsen delivers a brilliantly dark side to Scandi-comedy that UK audiences may not be so familiar with. With four seasons to catch up on, the fluctuating emotional minefield of Dag begins here. In the first season, Dag’s idea of love is tainted but this negative, loathsome concept develops into something fresh and new. The awkward journey combines love and sanity, which both states seem to go hand in hand; uncomfortable first dates, sex and leading up to a family bereavement, nervous breakdown and surprise wedding. These are the ingredients for a successful series but are they the ingredients for a successful romance?
Dag stars Atle Antonsen, Tuva Novotny, Anders Baasmo Christiansen.
Own the Noir comedy stylings of Dag – Season One on DVD here.
Beck – The Series – Vol.1
Released 16th November
The long-running detective series has been on screens since 1997, borne from the minds of pioneering Scandinavian crime fiction writers Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. Inspired by the original ten novels depicting the famed police partners Martin Beck and Gunvald Larsson, Beck has surpassed its literary pages with 30 feature-length adaptations. Before Saga Norén and Martin Rohde, Beck and Larsson stepped out onto the beat in a series that focused on the unique relationship between the crime-fighting duo.
Beck enters into its fifth season in the Vol.1 series collection, with a sixth season already announced. As with the episodes that aired in September on BBC Four, the DVD features the final episode of season four together with four brand new TV films. The latest investigations range from a body of a young woman found in a hotel room, a series of attacks from the criminal underworld threatening a family that Larsson is drawn personally to help, a possible surge in white supremacist attacks in Sweden and deaths in a hospital that point towards signs of unnatural causes. Don’t forget to look out for those fleeting, intimate moments that Beck and Larsson share, as well as Beck’s flamboyant neighbour with the neck-brace for comedic flair.
Beck stars Peter Haber, Mikael Persbrandt.
Buy the latest collection of Beck – The Series – Vol.1 on DVD here.
Released 30th November
The Scandinavian element manifests in the form of Sweden’s revered international star Stellan Skarsgård in BBC One’s six-part psychological drama River. Penned from the script by award-winning writer Abi Morgan (Shame and The Iron Lady, 2011), the genres of crime and drama are expertly woven to present a bittersweet tale of one man’s loss and his ever loosening grip on reality. The upbeat disco soundtrack, including Tina Charles’ I Love to Love (But my Baby Loves to Dance), will most likely play in our minds to resemble the poignant fantasy of the show.
John River suffers from visions of victims and murderers, no longer existing in the corporeal realm. However, despite certain hallucinations plaguing him, such as the killer Thomas Cream, the entities of victims embody his intuition and insights as a brilliant detective. Intent on solving the shooting of his former partner “Stevie”, River must face his psychosis that has undermined his acumen with peers and superiors in the police force. As he continues to collude with the spirit of “Stevie” to reach closure on the case, he realises he must also seek a cessation in his debilitating illness. In a similar vein to Saga’s personality in The Bridge, the humour and sympathy for River’s bluntness and fragility create a profound antihero to relate to.
River stars Stellan Skarsgård, Nicola Walker, Lesley Manville, Adeel Akhtar, Eddie Marsan.
The Bridge The Complete Season Three
Released 21st December
Coming very soon to a home entertainment shelf near you, The Bridge III will be ready to complete the phenomenal crime saga. Fans waited with bated breath after being left in the cold from the devastating second season finale. The news of Kim Bodnia’s exit from the show due to his dissatisfaction of Martin Rohde’s story arc shocked us into accepting the definitive dissolution of Saga and Martin’s friendship that spear-headed the first two seasons of The Bridge. However, The Bridge III has taken Saga in a new darker direction…
One year has passed and Martin’s presence is still apparent. Saga matter-of-factly moves on from the disappointment of losing one of her closest allies with distractions from a new convoluted homicide investigation, a mysterious Danish partner – Henrik Sabroe – and her dubious mother; dredging up her traumatic past. When her boss and mentor Hans Petterson becomes a victim of the serial killer’s elaborate plan, Saga’s mental stability is questioned. Now Saga is isolated and devoid of her friends who understood her jarring autism, Sabroe may be her only support. The third season provides plenty of socially awkward humour, labyrinthine plots, a host of suspicious characters and a new equilibrium to showcase more of our leading Nordic Noir heroine – Saga Norén.