Saturday, September 7, 2013

BORGEN: SEASON 2 arrives on DVD. Is it as good as Season 1? Yes -- and even better.

BORGEN junkies -- which would most likely include everybody who ever began watching this provocative, humane and politically astute Danish TV series -- will be happy to know that Season 2 has now arrived on DVD. Even better, the quality has not declined in any respect. In fact, I'd say that the second season outdoes the first. Not by a mile (Season 1 was too good for that to happen) but maybe by a Copenhagen city block.

Everyone's favorite Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg (center, above, and played so well by Sidse Babett Knudsen that I'm not sure I'd want to accept her in any other role) is up against new challenges, with her mentor Bent (Lars Knutzon, above, left, back in business) and her PR guy Kasper (Pilou Asbæk) up to his usual tricks, as per romance and politics.

Season 2 offers ten episodes on four discs. Each episode is utterly riveting, though I would suggest that the two-parter about an African nation's civil war that involves oil, China, big business and Denmark's peace plan requiring the country's recently-resigned Green party chairman to act as interpreter -- is perhaps the best in the new series.

Certainly the most moving and unsettling is the story of Nyborg's daughter's mental melt-down that requires our PM to lead her country at the same time as she protects her child and considers options and choices. This is particularly unsettling because it calls into question the usual male opinion that women cannot really lead and govern properly because they are, well, women. Other topics covered this season include closeted homosexuality, the environment, private vs public heath care, divorce and taxes.

Being about politics, the series allows that compromise, blackmail and betrayal are never far from home, and you come away with the renewed understanding that being a "good guy" is simply not possible all or even much of the time. Still, Borgen never gives in to easy cynicism. The small country of Denmark does indeed appear "governable" (which is increasingly more than can be said about these United States) because the wealthy and powerful have not taken over completely as yet -- as has happened here, where money rules all, all the time.

If you already know this series, you've undoubtedly found a way to see Season 2. If not, start watching Season 1, and I swear you'll stick around for the rest. Borgen: Season 2, in Danish with English Subtitles and distributed here in the USA by MHz Networks -- an independent, non-commercial national broadcaster, headquartered in the Washington, DC metro area -- is available now, in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, Region 1 NTSC, at a suggested retail price of $50 (less a nickle), though certain on-line retailers are selling it for just $33.

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