Few years ago at a symposium on Scandi Noir I saw a remarkable thing. Sonia Helin the star of The Bridge as Saga, the dysfunctional police inspector from Malmo, was doing a session in the afternoon. An admirer anxious to get the full benefit sat himself in the centre of the front row and clearly missed the earlier sessions for pole position. He got up to go the loo and somebody took his seat. A fight broke out.
On The Andrew Marr Show she answered the question on why Sweden a country with a highly developed national social conscience produces such grim detective drama. She replied that it was precisely that its people are comfortably prosperous and look for the opposite for their viewing pleasure.
These popular groundbreaking series move in waves. The Sopranos refined American soaps and West Wing and House of Cars the political thriller. The Killing set the bar for scandi noir.
For a detective series to achieve maximum popularity and staying power you need a central character of personality -a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot.
On tv Peter Falk as Colombo created a distinct persona with his scruffy raincoat, open-top Peugeot and wife you never see. His trademark line of “One more thing that puzzles me “ at the door when he leaves, normally the first stage in wearing down the ego of the murderer, were familiar lines.
Saga too does puzzled expression well. Her green leather trousers and old Porsche define her personality as much as her disarming directness flowing from her Aspergers. I find her and The Bridge compulsive viewing.
I have pre-recorded the whole new series and watched Friday’s episode yesterday.
Saga is now in prison for killing her mum and we see some grim scenes there.
In the meantime a woman is stoned under the Bridge. She is head of the immigration service and a terrorist attack is suspected.
Add to the mix a taxi driver who picked her up last who harasses his ex-wife and scares his son and her sinister boyfriend and you have other plot lines to engage you.
Scandi noir is particularly good at what Hitchcock called McGuffins (red herrings).
Do watch it.