Friday, August 1, 2014

Another MHz Network "find," the unusual Danish TV series, THE EAGLE-a Crime Odyssey, Season 1

TrustMovies only began watching this effective Danish television series, THE EAGLE, last week. Then, while research-ing its origins further, he discovered that it dates back to 2004. Which makes all the more impressive how up-to-date and captivating it still seems. Written by Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe, with a number of episodes directed by Niels Arden Oplev (who helmed the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as well as last year's worthwhile Dead Man Down), the series tracks a group of organized-crime fighters, led by Thea, one very pushy broad (a fine Ghita Nørby), and a quite capable inspector named Hallgrim (Jens Albinus, below), who is -- surprise, surprise -- troubled by a mysterious back-story.

It's this back-story that is actually the biggest "flaw" in the otherwise fast-moving and mostly riveting show. We keep getting flashbacks to Hallgrim's time as a child, when something involving his mother (and maybe other family members) happened. It's mostly the same flashback, and we have to watch it with each new episode (I've now viewed five of the ten in the first season), and already these flashbacks are boring. Perhaps, back in 2004, we hadn't seen this sort of thing done quite so often as now.

The series begins as Hallgrim is seated on a plane, above, waiting to take off to visit his sick mother in Iceland. Suddenly, he is called off that plane to tackle a murder investigation (below) in which the murderer has uttered but a single word: Jihad.

From episode to episode, even with new crime to investigate, this first murder and its aftermath continues to resonate. "We're all connected" has more than a mere telephone company commercial at its base. The murderer, in fact (a former KGB top dog now gone rogue, played by Thomas W. Gabrielsson, at left), is quite a character: one of the more accomplished and thus terrifying bad guys to be seen in some time. How this fellow keeps connecting to the various crimes at hand is one of the troubling surprises of the series.

This little group of crime fighters also includes a computer genius played by one of the most adorable young actors I've viewed of late: David Owe (shown above and below, left), as well as a smart and super helpful cop who provides the unit's entry into Denmark's immigrant Muslim world (played by Janus Nabil Bakrahwi, below, right).

Among the women characters, there are plenty of good ones and some bad ones -- a number of whom end up as corpses. (The body count here is rather high.) I am hoping that, as the series continues, the women will occupy a more major place. Right now, other than Ms Nørby and Karen-Lise Mynster as a very political-minded Minister of Justice, nobody registers strongly -- not even the other female detective (Marina Bouras, below, left) who provides the romantic interest for Hallgrim.

Still, the series -- yet another good one from the MHZ Network that seems to specialize in tip-top international television fare, with each of the ten episodes running  just under one hour -- is good enough to keep me watching, for this initial season, at least. The series, via the MHz Network itself, is available here. And its DVD is available here.

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