Arrow Film’s recent releases of Unit One and Above the Street, Below the Water have been enthusiastically received by a voracious fanbase that is always happy to receive new shows but until 2013 had to make do with a strictly administered ration of content. The logistical hurdles involved in obtaining a licence to release series for the UK and Irish DVD market were such that it might not have made commercial sense to embark on a strategy of issuing titles from Scandinavia’s untapped mine of high quality back catalogue TV shows until now. Secure in the knowledge that sales are strong enough to justify bringing a series to our shores, Arrow Films continues its expansion of the Nordic Noir range with its latest title The Protectors.
First screened in 2009, The Protectors was an incredibly popular series in Denmark where it is known as Livvagterne. Recognition and appreciation of the astounding level of craft displayed throughout this series have spread far beyond Scandinavia and in 2009 this production was recognized by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences who awarded it the International Emmy Award for best non-American television drama series.
Created by Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe, The Protectors is, alongside Unit One and The Eagle (coming to DVD later this year), part of a thematic trilogy exploring different dimensions of criminality and the moral imperatives which compels some people to act in such a socially destructive manner whilst others may experience a similar emotional trauma but will continue to be law abiding, and socially productive citizens.
The Protectors is a series set within the Danish police’s bodyguard unit (P.E.T.). Members of this unit provide protection to the Danish political elite, royal family, visiting foreign dignitaries, and influential figures within the public and private sectors. In addition to providing round the clock security, the bodyguards within this elite team must be impartial in political matters, make huge sacrifices in terms of social commitments, and be prepared to suffer a potentially fatal injury in the line of duty. Those wishing to join must undergo an intense selection process that rejects the majority of applicants. Decisions made by PE.T. employees have to be made in an instant, often amidst frenzied chaos and that judgment call may save lives or end them so the recruitment process is designed to find those who have the elusive requirements needed to work within the unit.
Jasmina (Cecilie Stenspil), Jonas (Søren Vejby), and Ramus (André Babikian) are three recruits who are swiftly plucked from the training camp and placed on active duty when a father tormented by grief is hell-bent on assassinating a government minister. The classroom, gymnasium, and obstacle course are supplanted by an urban landscape which provides excellent cover for a new breed of extremist.
The three new members of the unit swiftly form a strong professional and personal relationship despite their differing backgrounds and this is in direct contrast to criticisms of cultural erosion expressed by family members and those who are intent upon destroying modern Danish society. Central to The Protectors is the justly held belief that modern multicultural societies are a positive development that should be preserved at all costs.
This is a high octane series that thanks to some incredibly sophisticated writing manages to explore the present state of Danish society, the country’s role within international affairs, and how the media report scandal. The fluid direction embellishes what is already a breathtaking show and the use of aerial photography ensures that Denmark looks sexier than ever.
Fans who like to indulge in a bit of “actor spotting” will be in seventh heaven for not only does The Bridge‘s Ellen Hillingsø appear as a series regular but several other familiar faces feature prominently in various episodes including a key member of the Borgen cast who plays a radicalized Muslim.