A perfect conclusion…

I’ve shared a couple of posts about a Danish TV series I’ve been watching ‘Norskov’, about a police initiative to tackle a growing drug problem in a small northern port in Jutland. It was filmed in the port of Frederikshavn… which is an interesting small town in itself; it was originally called Fladstrand which means ‘Flat Beach’ so you get an idea of the surrounding area. Frederikshavn has ferry connections with Sweden, and this features in the storyline, as does ice hockey. Ice hockey is a popular sport in the area, and it’s an element of the plot which weaves through right to one of the climatic scenes in the last episode.

I couldn’t fault anything in the drama… it has a slow-burn story line, and now it’s finished I’m thinking back to the beginning and the first part and all the little clues which were seeded in apparently innocuous encounters of the main characters. The acting is superb, understated, powerful, subtle and even minor characters are believable, even the tiniest of rôles. The strength of it was that each character was realistic, shades of good, shades of a darker side – the loving and attentive father who is actually a crook, who has actually been blackmailed into doing what he’s doing – but has enjoyed, almost relished profiting by it, who is a good friend – but a very bad friend, who has risen out of difficulties, but has plunged himself back into worse difficulties. Then there’s the popular, successful couple – glamorous, rich, who have everything, except what they most desire which is out of reach – until a seeming miracle happens, but then the miracle is smashed, but then something seems to be emerging from the tragedy as the closing credits roll…

So last night was the final part and although the crooks were foiled and the mysteries solved, there was in a way, no happy endings. Most of the ‘baddies’ were caught, most people got their just deserts, but for some their tragedy continued. Does he live or does he die? Can she forgive herself even if she is forgiven, and is she secretly not as sorry and filled with regret as she should be? Does he escape or is he captured? Can their marriage be repaired? Can the mother be forgiven? Can a broken heart be mended? The series ended with a proper conclusion, a satisfactory conclusion, but as in life, we were left not knowing what may happen next to these strong and believable characters.

Here is a very good review:

https://inews.co.uk/culture/television/tv-review-norskov-channel-4-nordic-noir-touch-tyne-gets-close-personal/

…and I hope you can find the series here:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/norskov

Subtle

Subtle isn’t a word which is very often applied to TV crime dramas, but the performances in the series I’m watching at the moment are just that – subtle. The programme I’m watching is called Norskov and it’s a Danish series about a drug problem in a small Northern industrial port. Tom Noack played by Thomas Levin,  has worked in law enforcement not just in Denmark but in other countries as well, difficult, challenging posts. He returns to the town of Norskov to help sort out the drugs issue, and arrives just as an old girl-friend of his from his youth dies in a car accident… at first it seems she died through drug-driving, but then it turns out she was dead before the car crashed, her death caused by 80% proof cocaine… Tom’s friends have all done well since he left the small town, one is the mayor, another a businessman… and it seems that someone close to Tom is involved in the drug smuggling.

The story slowly unfolds over the ten episodes; there is action but it is a slow-burn sort of drama. It is well-written, well-produced, well-acted… and subtle – which includes the lighting and the music. The filming is marvellous, really conveying the gritty reality of a small town battling for a future in a remote part of the country – in a beautiful part of the country.

One of the main characters who in the beginning seems just to be have a  minor subsidiary role in the drama, is the dead woman’s son, Oliver. He is a troubled young man who has struggled with his chaotic home life, struggled at school probably because he’s dyslexic, but is the star of the local ice-hockey team which is really popular – ice-hockey is obviously big in Denmark! Oliver has grown up without knowing who his father is – his mother has led the sort of life win which there may be several paternal candidates. Despite the tragic and brutal death of his mother which leaves him devastated, there are changes in Oliver’s life, changes for the better, and gradually he sees a future for himself, a happy and successful future.

In the episode I have just watched Oliver’s prospects for happiness once again seem dashed… However, it was the performance of the young actor, Mathias Käki Jørgensen, born in 1994, so was just twenty-one when the series was shown (he was obviously younger when it was actually filmed) As a young, not very well-educated character, Oliver doesn’t say much except to his friends, but it is the way he acts which just draws the eye to him whenever he’s on the screen. He expresses so much through movement or stillness and facial expression – or lack of it. I get the feeling that this young actor will go far, he is so talented!

Here is a link to the programme:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/norskov

Late night viewing

I don’t watch much TV – too busy,and also to be honest there is not much which appeals. There are various crime shows, police procedurals which I enjoy – but mostly I watch them on catch-up. There are also mainly Scandi crime dramas which I confess, I am pretty addicted to. I guess it’s not just the genre but the quality of what I’;m watching which engages me – the standard of acting, direction, story-line, music,photography… so the latest I am watching is called ‘Norskov’.

‘Norskov’ is a Danish TV series which is totally gripping – I’m rationing myself to one episode a night even though I am desperate to find out who dun what to whom!! The initial premise seems deceptively easy – a policeman is brought in from outside to help tackle a major drug-taking problem among the young people of a town called Norskov in northern Denmark. Obviously there is much more to it than that!

It happens that the main character was actually brought up in the town he is supposed to be working in – his childhood sweetheart has died, probably murdered by a drug overdose… how many of his friend including the popular mayor and a prominent business man are implicated?

I am gripped!! Compared t a lot of these type of dramas there has been very little bloodshed; only one dead person, although there have been a few beatings, drug taking, and dodgy doings – but it is the relationship between the major players which is so fascinating and so intriguing…. I just cannot guess the outcome… I have no idea of what is going to happen!

Here is a link:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/norskov

Silencio

Earlier this evening I mentioned that I was jolly pleased that the crime/forensic pathology series Silent Witness was back for a new series – its twenty-first. I think most fans were similarly delighted, however there has been a lot of chuntering because the theme music has been changed. I did notice but I couldn’t really say it wasn’t as good as previously.

“Silencium” is performed by John Harle with a soprano saxophone solo and the vocals are performed by Sarah Leonard.

Here is a version from 2011;

Silent Witness returns!

Silent Witness, parodied as Witless Silence by French and Saunders, is back on TV and we saw the first two-part episode earlier this week. It’s extraordinary that it has been going so long, and has maintained its high standard of acting and writing. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a crime series revolving round a forensic pathology lab – and in real life it may be a little implausible that scientists based in a lab would be so active in solving strange and tricky crimes, but on TV it’s dramatic, gripping, and in its own world, believable.

When it was first broadcast in 1996 the senior pathologist was Professor Sam Ryan, played by Amanda Burton and was set in Cambridge. Since then there have been many change in personnel and the location has changed to London. The director now is Dr. Thomas Chamberlain played by Richard Lintern, and between Prof Sam and Dr Thomas there has been Professor Leo Dalton. However, as with all such dramas there is a team, and as usual with teams there is a mix of men and women, ordinary and eccentric, dashing and down to earth. The team now comprises of Dr Chamberlain, Dr. Nikki Alexander, Jack Hodgson and Clarissa Mullery. They have very different personalities and, as in real life, they sometimes fall out  or upset each other, about they are a team, loyal, strong and at ultimately fond of each other.

The stories nearly always involve murder, but sometimes it is abduction or smuggling or trafficking, and does not shy away from current and sometimes controversial subjects. Sometimes the characters are compromised, sometimes their hearts rule their heads, but science is at the core of their investigations. Most of the episodes are set in the UK, but there have been various times when the team or one of them has been involved in a case abroad, most recently when Nikki was kidnapped in Mexico and her life put at risk – the programme is so good that it was really unclear whether she would escape alive – in a previous series Professor Dalton was unexpectedly murdered, so there’s a precedent for the unexpected!

  • Professor Sam Ryan – Amanda Burton
  • Professor Leo Dalton – William Gaminara
  • Dr. Harry Cunningham – Tom Ward
  • Dr. Nikki Alexander – Emilia Fox
  • Jack Hodgson – David Caves
  • Clarissa Mullery – Liz Carr
  • Dr. Thomas Chamberlain – Richard Lintern

I wonder if there is a box set – I’m tempted, and then have a Silent Witness orgy of watching all twenty series!

Here is a link to the BBC SW website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007y6k8

An unknown (to me!) carol

The radio was on and the programme being broadcast was ‘Soul Music’; it’s  described as a ‘series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact’. For example, programmes have included:

  • Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
  • Waterloo Sunset – the Kinks
  • Sukiyaki – both Japanese and English versions
  • The St Matthew Passion
  • Don’t Leave Me This Way – the Communards
  • Crazy – Patsy Cline

So today’s programme was about a Christmas carol; now although I am not Christian, I was brought up at a time where Christianity was part of every day life so I went to Sunday school, had a religious assembly every day at school, had R.E. (religious education) lessons every week at school, and many of my closest friends are practising Christians… so over the years I have listened to and sung many, many Christmas carols.

The carol being discussed today by Archbishop John Sentanu, Katie Melua, Tymara Walker and others was ‘O Holy Night’… did they mean the carol I know as ‘Silent Night’ with its second line of ‘holy night’? Of course they didn’t this nineteenth century carol is completely different – and I had never heard it or heard of it. How did it pass me by? I’m sure it wasn’t in the hymn book which I still have somewhere that we used throughout our time there, and I can’t remember it from Sunday school.

According to Wikipedia, it dates from the 1840’s and was originally a French carol. Before it was a hymn, it was a poem by Placide Cappeau who was a wine merchant. He sounds quite a remarkable person – born in 1808, he lost his hand in a terrible shooting accident at the age of only eight when he was playing with a gun with a friend. Despite this and with the financial assistance of the father of the boy who had shot him, Placide continued his studies and won prizes for drawing, received certificates for literature, and became a lawyer…. however, it seems he was probably destined from birth to follow his father into his wine business, and indeed he did.

Placide wrote a popular poem, ‘Minuit Chretiens!’ and this was set to music by Adolphe Adam who was five years older than Placide. Adolphe was a composer (he wrote the music for the ballet ‘Giselle’), teacher and music critic, and he wrote the melody to what became the lyric of the carol. The carol is famous and well-loved in France, and was translated into English in the 1850’s by John Sullivan Dwight.

So it’s a carol which has been around for a long time, and yet I just don’t know it! We didn’t sing it at school, I don’t remember it at any carol concert… somehow it has eluded me!

PS… I’m really sorry but I don’t actually like this carol!

… and here is a link to the BBC programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09jdxzf

Spoke too soon… eating my words…

I wrote quite a long post yesterday about a TV series which I’d watched and enjoyed somewhat, but was irritated by the unbelievable things which happened in it. It’s a Belgian police procedural and I know with all such shows it’s all a fiction, and in real police departments there would never be officers like this, or procedures carried out like that, or crimes of such intricacy and brutality… but in quality shows the audience is carried along and the ridiculousness of it all doesn’t strike the viewer – or if it does we’re too busy being gripped by the action, story-line, acting, subtle effects…

The TV series I was criticising was Professor T starring Koen De Bouw, as the eponymous prof, Ella Leyers as the police inspector, Herwig Ilegems as he chief inspector and Bart Hollanders  as her professional and personal partner. I did temper my criticism with praise for the actors and for the subtle on-going slow burn narrative threads, and I acknowledged that maybe there’s a cultural appreciation which I don’t have as I’m not Belgian, and that summer of the quirky humour might just be a matter of taste…  My main criticism was that there were things which were truly unbelievable as I mentioned above.

However… however, I do truly have to eat my words and take back some of what I said, because the last episode of the series, and the second of a two-part story, was just superb. I won’t give away anything that happened or spoil it if you are a fan, or have been watching it or think you might want to watch it… but it was as if this last episode was written by a different team.

The acting continued to be excellent… and even a couple of actors who I hadn’t thought were as good as the others, shone with their delicacy of touch. A couple of very minor characters were brought in, and although they didn’t have to say or do very much they really added to the whole and made scenes believable. I won’t say realistic, because it wasn’t, but that didn’t matter because the viewer was caught up in what was happening. The quirks instead of being humorous now had a purpose and were an important part of what happened to one of the characters. There was a life and death situation which was not mawkish, sentimental, or artificially tear-jerking, but really effective and involving… subtle, subtle, subtle…

Sorry Professor T that I was so critical – I still stand by a lot of things I wrote, but this last episode was brilliant!

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/professor-t/on-demand/66262-001