DVD News: Follow The Money – The Complete Series One

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Arrow Films has announced the Monday 25th April DVD & BLU-RAY release of the complete first season of the Danish financial crime thriller Follow the Money.

The series centres around one of Denmark’s leading energy companies, ‘Energreen’, and the endless layers of fraud and corruption which point towards insider trading and the death of an industrial employee. With a ruthless and troubled police officer determined to get to the bottom of this deception, a charismatic CEO set on growing his international business, a young lawyer desperate to advance in the company, and an ex-con devoted to provide for his family, this story becomes one of us human beings, the rich, the poor, the greedy, the fraudulent, the robbers who’ll go to any lengths to build the lives of our dreams.

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“A complex, sure-to-be-addictive tale of financial
lies and misdeeds”
– The Observer

“Nordic Noir is back on form with Follow the Money” 
– The Times

“Stylish and compelling”
– The Guardian

“Another Nordic noir that’s right on the money”
– Metro

Follow The Money is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Follow-The-Money-DVD/dp/B01CF3BF0I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459340115&sr=8-1&keywords=follow+the+money

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Follow-The-Money-Blu-ray/dp/B01CF3BC8S/ref=sr_1_1_twi_blu_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1459340115&sr=8-1&keywords=follow+the+money

DVD News: The Bridge – The Complete Season Three

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Arrow Films has announced the the critically acclaimed crime-drama series The Bridge The Complete Season Three will be released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday December 21st. The Bridge Trilogy Boxset will also be released on December 21st on DVD and Blu-ray.

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The series premièred on BBC Four on Saturday evening to a record audience of 1.2m viewers, continuing from the record breaking 3.2 million viewers that tuned in to the premiere episode in Sweden. The hit series stars Sofia Helin as the enigmatic, unorthodox Swedish detective Saga Noren.

Saga once again partners-up with a Danish officer, this time the equally troubled Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt), as they unravel a series spectacular murders.

The Bridge – The Complete Season Three will be released on DVD & Blu-ray through Arrow Films on Monday 21st December.

Arrow Films will also be releasing The Bridge Trilogy Boxset on DVD & Blu-ray for fans to enjoy the beloved series in its entirety, from Saga and Martin first meeting on the infamous bridge, to the gripping third season finale. The boxset release will coincide with the release of Season 3 on December 21st.

The Bridge – The Complete Season Three  is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Season-3-DVD/dp/B01535VC6W/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1448290893&sr=8-4&keywords=the+bridge

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Season-3-Blu-Ray/dp/B01535VBN6/ref=tmm_blu_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448290893&sr=8-4

The Bridge Trilogy is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Trilogy-Blu-Ray-Sofia-Helin/dp/B01535VBA4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448290975&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bridge+trilogy

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bridge-Trilogy-DVD-Sofia-Helin/dp/B01535VBKY/ref=tmm_dvd_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448290975&sr=8-1

Download your personal Bridge mini guide to Malmö here:

http://www.visitsweden.com/PageFiles/45269/VS_THEBRIDGETHREE_MINIGU

DVD Review: The Saboteurs

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An epic recreation of one of World War Two’s most significant acts of sabotage.

Previously filmed as Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water and The Heroes of Telemark, The Saboteurs is a balanced re-telling of the Nazi regime’s attempts to be first in the race to create nuclear weaponry and the daring efforts of Norwegian troops to destroy a plant being used to create fission material. A supremely well-crafted series brings to the screen a turning point in the war and places events in historical context.

The Norsk Hydro plant in Telemark, Norway, had been producing heavy water in large quantities since 1934. At the outbreak of hostilities an arrangement was in place to supply the French government with heavy water for the duration of the conflict. After Nazi occupation supplies were commandeered and sent to Germany where they were used by scientists in experiments to create the first atomic bomb.

Allied governments suspected that Germany was trying to create a nuclear weapon and that heavy water may be a core ingredient in the process. Destroying the plant could change the course of the war.

Perched atop an icy ravine, the plant was protected by several layers of concrete and armed guards. To reach the facility the saboteurs had to cross a frozen river and climb a gorge. Senior officers doubted that the raid would be successful. KAMPEN_OM_TUNGTVANNETBreaking viewing records, The Saboteurs achieved the highest ratings this century when it was screened in Norway. 1.7 million viewers tuned into the series (the country’s population is 5.1 million).

Eschewing the triumphalist “boys own” tone employed by previous adaptations the series presents people on both sides of the conflict as complex emotionally driven individuals wrestling with moral dilemmas. Screenwriter Petter S. Rosenlund and Director Per-Olav Sørensen have produced a tense series that trounces all previous attempts to dramatise the mission.

Deep in the heat of Germany’s war machine, Nobel Prize winning physicist Werner Heisenberg (Christoph Bach) conducts experiments to build the first atomic bomb. His superiors are convinced that this weapon will ensure Germany is victorious. Heisenberg requires heavy water to control nuclear fission.

Following Germany’s occupation of Norway chemistry professor Leif Tronstad (Espen Klouman-Høiner) flees to London and makes contact with Military Intelligence. Working alongside Colonel John Wilson (Pip Torrens) and Captain Julie Smith (Anna Friel), Leif plans a sabotage mission.

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Several changes have been made to the story for dramatic purposes. The on screen director of Norsk Hydro is a fictional creation that amalgamates several figures. When Leif arrived in London he was not met by Captain Julie Smith (Anna Friel). Records show that no female officer was involved in planning the mission.

Undoubtedly the definitive screen version of the mission. Per-Olav Sørensen’s cinematic direction offers up a succession of breathtaking set pieces which highlights the human drama and .communicates the dangers faced by troops as they attempted to cross a treacherous snow covered mountainous landscape.

A fitting tribute to the real-life heroes of Telemark. The Saboteurs is a complex slow burning drama that bravely tries to understand what motivated each side in this conflict. Alongside Arrow Films’ Generation War it represents a new benchmark in War drama.

The Saboteurs can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Saboteurs-DVD-Espen-Klouman-H%C3%B8iner/dp/B00YEBTC0A/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1439144559&sr=1-1&keywords=the+sabatours

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Saboteurs-Blu-ray-Espen-Klouman-H%C3%B8iner/dp/B0105UYJ7Y/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1439144559&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=the+sabatours

DVD Review: The Spider

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A host of familiar faces star in an impressive post-war noir mystery series.

In 1949 Denmark was a traumatised nation unable to conceal the visible scars of a brutal occupation by Nazi forces that had killed over 3,000 people. Liberation ushered in an era of shortages and rationing. Struggling to rebuild its infrastructures, the fragile government appeared to be impotent when confronted with the black market economy.

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Left-leaning journalist Bjarne Maden (Jakob Cedergren) is an idealist eager to forge a career as a crime reporter. Unwavering in his belief in the press’ power to effect significant social change he covers stories which highlight cracks in the battered country’s system. Son of a noted union leader he uses the printed word to continue his father’s work standing up for the marginalised and persecuted. Championing social justice, Bjarne is striving to craft a new Denmark untainted by criminality.

A tip-off about organised crime leads the intrepid reporter on a trail which uncovers a web corruption that infects the upper stratums of society. Ignoring cautionary advice from the newspaper’s senior crime writer, Bjarne embarks on a self-appointed crusade to expose the toxic tendrils of lawlessness contaminating Copenhagen and bring the criminals to task.

Although the process of rebuilding Denmark is underway, the country remains divided along lines fought during the war. Bjarne’s brother Ole (Lars Mikkelsen) returns to Copenhagen. after several years in America. Enthused by time spent living in New York and flush with dollars he plans to open a jazz club. Ole’s reinvention is viewed with suspicion by those who are unable to forgive him for being a Nazi sympathiser during the occupation.

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First broadcast in 2000, The Spider is loosely based on the true story of journalists Anders B. Norgaard and Poul Dalgaard’s dogged attempts to expose a criminal network and highlight the police’s complicity in a black market economy built on smuggling, stolen goods, drugs, and prostitution.

Bjarne Henriksen is perfectly cast as an ice-cool racketeer who controls the crime syndicate with an iron glove. A Danish Al Capone type figure based on the real-life criminal Svend Aage Hasselstrøm who rose to prominence during World War Two and maintained a vice-like grip on Copenhagen’s underworld for eight years.

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An era of lawlessness and crushed hopes is meticulously recreated in a multi-layered and engrossing high-quality series that traces Denmark’s attempts to expunge the corruption which threatened to strangle the post-war administration.

Director Ole Christan Madsen’s affection for Film Noirs shines through in an exemplary production which doffs a fedora to classic crime films of the 1940s and ’50s. Cinematography, costuming, and set design work in tandem to create the sense of a time when gangsters held entire cities under their command.

Complex and engaging, The Spider is an arresting drama packed with an array of now well-known Scandinavian actors at the top of their game.

The Spider can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spider-DVD-Jacob-Cedergren/dp/B00URMMW1G/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434382412&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=the+spider+lars+mikkeslsen

DVD Review: The Bridge – The Complete Season Two

With The Killing and Borgen now consigned to the immortality of DVD boxsets naysayers might have been tempted to inaccurately predict that the Scandinavian TV phenomenon had peaked. From Stieg Larsson through to the closing moments of our window in Birgitte Nyborg’s personal life and political career, Danish and Swedish culture has been covertly invading our high streets and TV screens. Retail outlets now routinely stock Faroese inspired sweaters to customers who may be unaware of their precise cultural significance and the relatively recent television series Broadchurch has demonstrated that creative professionals are studiously paying attention to how their Nordic counterparts craft quality popular drama.

High turnout to the recent Nordicana event and consistently impressive viewing figures for The Bridge‘s second season is testament that interest in all things Danish and Swedish remains buoyant. Fans will take additional comfort in the knowledge that not only is BBC Four committed to maintaining its now traditional Saturday foreign language slot throughout 2014, it will soon be complemented by programming from More4 and Sky Arts who have purchased the promising Mammon and The Legacy.

Once TV schedules were a barren wasteland, devoid of interesting programming from Europe, now the broadcast landscape has been energized by supreme shows from Europe characterised by complex storytelling, exemplary acting, and production values which frequently outclass any dramas currently being produced within the Anglosphere. Proving that aficionados of subtitled series are being rewarded with a golden age of exemplary titles and visible support from both BBC and Arrow Films, the pain of saying farewell to Borgen was soothed by unleashing the peerless second season of The Bridge onto a viewing public ill prepared for the emotional turbulence they would experience over the course of five weeks.

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As actor, presenter, screenwriter, and crime novelist, Hans Rosenfeldt has worked on, or been responsible for, some of the most intriguing series, films, and books to have appeared in Sweden over the last decade. No stranger to crime fiction, in partnership with Michael Hjorth he co-authored three Sebastian Bergman novels and scripted the Rolf Lassgård starring TV adaptation. Asked to create the first Danish-Swedish drama co-production Rosenfeldt pitched the highly original idea of placing a bi-sected corpse directly at the mid point of the Øresund Bridge, ensuring that police forces from neighbouring countries must co-operate in the investigation. The inception may pre-date The Killing, it took six years before Rosenfeldt’s ideas could be brought to screen and in that he time he honed the overall story arc ensuring that all subplots were integrated into the primary investigation with the right degree of poignancy.

A relatively hands off showrunner, at least in British terms, Rosenfeldt views dailies but doesn’t set foot on set, preferring not to inhibit the director’s freedom. Creative decisions about the overall tone of an episode and significance of specific scenes in terms of the overarching plot are worked out during production meetings which take place in the days and weeks before cameras roll on Saga and Martin’s investigation.

The hard work and determination displayed by Rosenfeldt and his core creative team, both in front and behind the lens, was justly recompensed with the news that the first season had been exported to one hundred and seventy four countries. Additionally, several remakes of varying quality were produced including Fox’s US-Mexican adaptation, and Sky Atlantic’s Anglo-French co-production The Tunnel.

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After a hair-raising finale to the first season, fans might have had reasonable cause for concern about the possibility of any new instalments diluting the impact of such an emotionally potent denouement. With Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) trapped by the near insanity of grief and guilt the series could have ended with his primal screams leaving viewers to conclude he would be forever-more be held prisoner within a personal hell without any possibility of salvation or redemption. The curtain was brought down on the show with such honest writing and depth laden performances a second series seemed inconceivable. Flying in the face of the law of diminishing returns, The Bridge‘s sophomore outing is an ingenious sequel which honours the previous batch of episodes before going on to trounce them and become a strong contender for finest Nordic drama to air on British TV screens since BBC Four opened up its schedules to European programming.

Highly accomplished acting and subtle plotting have delivered an ambitious series that accomplishes the near impossible trick of simultaneously telling a high concept story and an intense emotional tale.

Practically demanding a second viewing to spot the precise moments where specific incidents were first seeded, The Bridge delivers a complex narrative rich with subtext. Closer inspection reveals each line of dialogue is laden with additional layers of meaning, the significance of which is only fully revealed after watching the intensely charged climax. Offering no wastage, each moment of screen time is filled with intricately constructed character moments that riff on the season’s thematic subtext of unintended consequences.

Central to The Bridge‘s success is the relationship dynamic between Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) and Saga Norén (Sofia Helin), Playing with, and reversing, gender stereotypes an emotionally impulsive officer is partnered with a logician who sees social phenomena in terms of precise patterns.

In the thirteen months since events on the Øresund Bridge the only contact between Saga and Martin was at August’s funeral. Desk bound whilst he undergoes a therapy programme, Martin is still grieving for his son. Separated from his wife Mette (Puk Scharbau) and visibly tortured by feelings of remorse his colleagues treat him with kid gloves never expecting a return to active duty. Saga Norén is in charge of the investigating why a seemingly unmanned tanker piloted on a direct collision course with the Øresund Bridge. The mystery deepens when she discovers five youths chained up below the deck. Specifically requesting to be partnered once again with Martin, the pair reunite and try to deal with the consequences of what happened thirteen months ago whilst trying to solve the mystery.

Now a shadow of his former self, Martin is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Living in hope that he can reconnect with his family and silence the demons haunting his mind the opportunity to work with Saga is initially seen as a therapeutic exercise albeit one with considerable risks. Being partnered with the person who stopped him from killing Jens Hansen (Lars Simonsen) is fraught with dangers as the risk of confronting the past too soon, and without adequate medical supervision, has the potential to undo the recovery process and revert Martin to the state we saw him in at the closing moments of the first season.

Despite relatively minimal research, the producers were contacted by a Swedish aspergers charity that was very keen to praise the series’ representation of this form of autism. It is never explicitly stated within the narrative that Saga has this condition, but nonetheless this has become the most favoured diagnosis by fans and the popular press. Cast in the mould of a female Sherlock Holmes, Saga has a brilliant analytical mind coupled with an inability to break official regulations in the course of work.

The multifaceted script is replete with traps, shocks, reversals, and resets, the beauty of its construction becomes apparent after viewing the final episode. Playing games with the viewer, Rosenfeldt takes the viewer down seemingly blind alleys only to later reveal that the discarded information plays a vital part in the resolution. Emotional character arcs ground the series, preventing it from descending into an elongated logic game and assuring that the audience is able to enjoy the experiences of continually being thwarted in their attempts to double guess what links the disparate threats whilst becoming enthralled with the poignant voyage Martin and Saga take together and as individuals.

Trying to ascertain how five people listed as missing appear to be prisoners on a cargo ship opens up a panoply of enigmas and hazards. In reprising their professional relationship the mismatched pair of detectives inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that will take a sledgehammer to their friendship.

Despite being incarcerated within a maximum security prison in solitary confinement, Jens continues to make his presence felt. A force of destruction who thrives upon control and manipulation, he never expected to survive his confrontation with Martin at the end of the first season. Alone and dejected he feels impotent and seizes the opportunity to regain dominance when Martin asks to meet as part of a therapeutic exercise. Rejecting what appears to be an offer of redemption he remains an ever present opponent on the other side of the table.

Overflowing with ostensibly disconnected subplots that neatly dovetail as the series progresses. Mystification is continually augmented with the introduction of each new character, however as every scene and line of dialogue has been deliberately positioned to achieve a specific effect in terms of the narrative and the viewer’s enjoyment nothing has been left to chance by the writer, watching is initially akin to trying to piece together a jigsaw without a picture on the box for reference. Once the finale has been absorbed, the urge to immediately re-watch the series from beginning to end and savour the totality of a dense narrative with the benefit of enhanced knowledge is so strong it will take herculean powers of mental strength to resist.

A rusty ship drifting astray is the first in a series of puzzles that rapidly expands into a series of mysteries and tragedies involving poisoned food, eco terrorism, murder, industrial malpractice, and a threat to contaminate an entire EU conference with a virulent bacteria. Gathering clues whilst dealing with conflicting personal circumstances and a corrupted crime scene report, Saga and Martin race against the clock to discover who is behind the killings and prevent a disaster that could engulf the entire continent.

Wagnerian in scope, the second series of The Bridge delves into the darker moments of Saga and Martin’s psyches with contrasting outcomes. Whereas Saga is finally able to come to terms with a personal tragedy she has kept secret for many years Martin falls from grace and in doing so becomes a twisted reflection of Jens.

The Bridge is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Series-2-DVD/dp/B00GTKYI1C/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718104&sr=8-4&keywords=the+bridge

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Series-2-Blu-ray/dp/B00GTKYH90/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718637&sr=8-3&keywords=the+bridge+series+2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Series-Sofia-Helin/dp/B00GTKYHU4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718664&sr=8-4&keywords=the+bridge+series+2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridge-Blu-ray-Sofia-Helin/dp/B00GTKYHSG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1391718664&sr=8-5&keywords=the+bridge+series+2

DVD Review: The Protectors – Season Two

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With two BAFTA awards under its belt and a nomination for The Bridge, Arrow Films has resisted the temptation to rest on its laurels and instead is captialising on the success it has had introducing UK audiences to contemporary based slices of Danish and Swedish drama by preparing to unleash the final glimpse into Birgitte Nyborg’s world, readying the ambitious period crime series Anno 1790, and releasing the Emmy winning second season of The Protectors.

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An immensely popular series in Denmark, The Protectors ran for two seasons and left a legacy that is firmly embedded in all of the subsequently produced Danish crime shows which have been made available in English speaking territories. In terms of cinematography and the pacing of individual episodes, The Protectors established a template that is still being adhered to in 2013.

Far more than a police procedural, this is a series that holds a mirror up to modern day Denmark and asks existential questions about threats the country is facing in a globalized age. Co-created by Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe (Unit One), The Protectors is a highly intelligent show that never forgets human emotions are at the core of drama. Whilst the show may have been conceived as an intellectual exercise, its place as the final movement in a thematically linked trilogy necessitates synthesizing the differing perspectives on crime present in the previous installments, it buries any cerebral pretensions and focuses on telling stories that offer a commentary on contemporary Danish society and zooms in on basic passions showing them in both positive and negative lights.

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Still set within an elite unit of the Danish police force (P.E.T), the second season of The Protectors paints on a broader canvas with a greater array of storylines. Thanks to some clever accounting practices and remarkably bold production decisions we are treated to to a show that is in equal measure a continuation and a reformatting. The expansion of the story-world, both real and physical, coupled with more consistent and engaging personal narratives elevates the series to heights that may have seemed inconceivable on the basis of the first year’s batch of episodes. A consistently strong run is eclipsed by a near peerless second season.

Viewers are filled in on all the main plot points from the previous series via a pre season clips compilation so are instantly able to engage with this fictional world without the need to have bought, and seen, the other volume. The primary focus remains the three recruits but subsidiary characters that were little more than animated furniture in the first season are now brought to the fore and given enough screen time and motivation to ensure that they directly impact upon the main narrative and we feel for them in their moments of crisis.

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In contrast to the première run, we hit the ground at an intense pace. No longer saddled with the burden of having to establish the scenario and its cast, the writers instantly plunge the protagonists into real and emotional danger. What was once primarily the story of recruits being thrust into a new and dangerous working environment takes on a harder edge as the series escapes Copenhagen’s confines and traverses the globe. Our heroes are once again Jasmina (Cecilie Stenspil), Jonas (André Babikian), and Rasmus (Søren Vejby). Battling extremism, corruption, and intolerance, the team is constantly vigilant and aware that at any given moment they might be expected to take a bullet in the line of duty. Aided by a support staff that includes The Bridge‘s Ellen Hillingsø, the P.E.T tackles cases seemingly inspired by recent newspaper headlines.

The publication of a cartoon offensive to the Islamic world has affected Denmark’s international standing and the re-opening of the Islamabad agency is a tentative affair filled with the ever present fear of reprisals from fundamentalists. No matter how diligent members of the P.E.T may be sometimes they are powerless against the might and determination of terrorist organizations…

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An exemplary scripted series shot with intelligence and tenderness. The frenzied and traumatic events are complemented and sometimes contrasted by nuanced cinematography. With talent in front and behind the camera working at the top of their game to produce the best possible show this is a DVD boxset that is equal to The Killing and Borgen.

The Protectors – Season Two can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Protectors-Season-2-DVD/dp/B00CJDDRVA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1381241089&sr=8-3&keywords=the+protectors

DVD Review: Unit One – Series 1 and 2

With the recent DVD release of Exit we were treated to a crucial moment in Mads Mikkelsen’s screen career, one that had previously been unavailable in the UK. On the cusp of international stardom and yet blissfully unaware that he was about to embark on a journey that would lead to him one day playing the most infamous serial killing cannibal in modern fiction.

For a long time it seemed as though several essential pre Exit moments in Mikkeslen’s career would always remain unobtainable to us. Tantalising hints of complex characters in intense productions were dotted around various web pages enticing and frustrating fans with the possibility of mesmerising portrayals being forevermore beyond our reach . Resigned to the prospect of never being able to purchase subtitled DVDs of Exit and Unit One and see first hand if the promise of greatness was always there, fans were taken by surprise when Arrow Films rectified that situation and started issuing those very same titles. For the first time fans can begin building a more complete overview of .Mikkelsen’s early career with the added bonus of sampling some excellent examples of Scandinavian film and TV.

As the latest title to be released under the Nordic Noir banner, Unit One may quite possibly be one of the most historically significant titles to be issued by Arrow Films’ Scandinavian imprint. Fast moving, and gritty, Unit One is the show that changed the face of Danish television. Rescuing the crime genre from decades of male dominance, the series placed a strong and dynamic female character at the centre of the action and in doing so opened a door which would enable Sarah Lund and Saga Noren to follow through in later years.

Premièring in 2000, Unit One is a series about a high profile mobile police team that travels the width and breadth of Denmark in order to investigate murders, incidents of serial rape, arson, extortion, and any other forms of criminality which may be too specialised for the local law enforcement agency to deal with. Based on real-life crimes, the show proudly wears its authenticity on its sleeve, taking great care to let the viewers know what sentence was metered out to the miscreants.

Produced in response to American crime series which were very popular with Danish audiences, Unit One was commissioned by future home of The Killingand Borgen, DR1, as a part of a policy to increase the share of home grown content broadcast by the station. From its inception the producers of Unit One were determined to craft a show that was comparable to anything being made across the Atlantic. That the series was awarded an International Emmy Award in 2002 is proof that the producers succeeded in their aims.

Incredibly popular in Denmark, Unit One ran for four seasons and the shutters finally came down on the mobile police unit because of a desire to go out on top and leave the audience hungry for more. More than a decade on from the final episode the lessons learnt whilst making this series are still being employed in day-to-day Danish TV drama production.

Showrunner, Peter Thorsboe’s commitment to and excitement for the subject matter was such that Unit One became the first part in a thematic trilogy (Unit OneThe EagleThe Protectors) that explored criminality and the emotional and social sacrifices made by police officers. With this first installment Thorsboe made a creative decision not to sensationalise the heinous criminal acts the show would deal with each week and by populating the series with believable and sympathetically written detectives he weighted the show with an emotional anchor that prevented any melodramatic heightening of tone.

The inclusion of a female senior female detective may seem to fans of Nordic Noir to be an essential ingredient but for Danish audiences in 2000 this was revolutionary television. Ingrid Dahl, played by Charlotte Fich, is a prototype for the more socially dysfunctional female leads that feature in current Danish TV crime shows. Identification figure and outsider, it is through her eyes we become acquainted with Unit One’s modus operandi and the fellow team members.

Having an unshakeable belief in the rule of law and due process Dahl is plunged into a world outside of her comfort zone when she is made acting commander of the unit. Her primary objective is to apprehend her predecessor’s killer and build a watertight case which will withstand the scrutiny of the state prosecutor and defence lawyer.

The first season is essentially Dahl’s story despite Unit One being billed an ensemble show. With the greatest amount of screen time and most significant emotional character arc Dahl is the motor behind the team’s narrative actions . An emotionally strong woman with the ability to be decisive and a strong sense of empathy, Dahl stands in stark contrast to the Nordic Noir model of femininity with which we are more familiar. Lacking the social awkwardness of Saga Noren or the skewed private life of Sarah Lund, Dahl is successful at work and has a loving and sympathetic family which accepts that sometimes holidays might have to be postponed or cancelled because of police business.

Previously, Dhal has acted within the letter of the law and hasn’t tolerated any actions by her colleagues in which rules were broken or bent to secure a conviction but upon joining Unit One she has to come to terms with a mode of policing that operates with a very different methodology. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to enter a property without a warrant and Dahl soon learns when to turn a blind eye or fake a deaf ear.The extent to which the presence of femininity within a traditionally masculine may transform policing is a subplot throughout the first series. Dahl’s promotion is resented by some of her male colleagues despite them benefiting from it due to a tokenistic financial initiative which sees the team being awarded better facilities and pay rises as part of an programme aimed at increasing the presence of woman within senior roles. Dahl faces accusations of political correctness head on and spends the first series proving to her colleagues and a skeptical public that she is able do the job better than any comparable male candidate.

Unit One’s first series was rewarded with critical praise and impressive viewing figures that annihilated the rival network’s competition. DR1 instantly realised it had a hit on its hands and seizing the momentum commissioned a second season. Allocating an increased budget and greater technical resources DR1 was committed to producing a series which built upon lessons learnt during the first series, ensuring that the sophomore season took the show to even greater heights.

In series two the central premise would remain unchanged but with a years experience under its belt the production team had an acute awareness of what changes were needed in order to amplify the distinct voice. The outmoded cinematographic techniques employed in the first few episodes were discarded and replaced by a visual palette that would, with minor modifications, still be in use in 2013.

Armed with a sharper and faster batch of scripts Unit One‘s second season rewarded viewers with pay-offs on plot points hinted at in earlier episodes and brought the supporting cast to the fore.

An unspecified amount of time has passed since the end of the first series,. Dahl has come to terms with a personal tragedy and the team has laid the ghost of the previous supervising officer to rest. Now viewed as a friend, as well as a colleague, she is able to counsel team members in moments of emotional crisis knowing that they now regard her as an equal.

The series’ balance becomes far more equally distributed as subsidiary members of the team are given an increased amount of screen time. Individual emotional storylines crash into criminal investigations and then rebound back. Being on call 24/7 means that officers have long ago given up any pretence of being able to manage a harmonious private life. Never able to switch off from work means that the team feels more alive when in the the field and sometimes may need a particularly gruesome case to escape from domestic turmoil.

From guest artiste to series regular Unit One is populated by actors at the top of their game shining in a ground breaking series. Because of his current high profile attention may initially focuses on Mads Mikkelson to see if the greatness was there at such an early point in his career, yes it was, but focusing on a single actor is a disservice to a superb cast, many of whom would become familiar faces on Danish screens in subsequent years.

Unit One – Series 1 and 2 can be ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unit-One-DVD-Mads-Mikkelsen/dp/B00A9YBW9K/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1374785992&sr=1-1&keywords=unit+one

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unit-One-Season-2-DVD/dp/B00BQJSA56/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1374785992&sr=1-2&keywords=unit+one

Series 3 will be released in 2014 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unit-One-Season-3-DVD/dp/B00CJFTX7A/ref=sr_1_3?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1374785992&sr=1-3&keywords=unit+one