The original Scandinavian-noircrimeseriesThe Bridge was a breakthrough for Nordic drama. It's success was built around extending the popular odd couple, buddy cop genre to a new level, creating unlikely heroes thrown together in a world of uncertain loyalties and contested ground while they pursue a serial killer.
The most intriguing feature of Hans Rosenfeldt's series was that super-sleuth Saga Noren has an unidentified syndrome which leaves her bereft of empathy and lacking in fundamental behavioural skills.
Such was the success of the series, the Americans made their own version of The Bridge, now streaming on SBS on Demand.
There are pros and cons to the American series. The bridge itself, rather than being a link between Denmark and Sweden is now the Bridge of the Americas between Mexico and the US and so the series is given a powerful contemporary reference and goes straight to the heart of people trafficking, drug smuggling and refugees.
This establishes a deeper level of tension as the American and Mexican police officers are forced to work together, negotiating conventional racial and cultural stereotypes.
This gives The Bridge USA plenty to work with and elevates this "remake" above just an English-speaking version of an excellent European drama.
What the American series doesn't pull off quite as well as the original series is the representation of Detective Sonya Cross's condition. The directors don't get the sort of nuanced performance from Diane Kruger as Swedish actress Sofia Helin provided for the Danish series.
In the new series, Cross appears to be a high functioning, if somewhat inflexible, police officer, with a sort of amusing inability to play social games. In the Danish production Helin builds a more-fully formed and complex individual.
Nevertheless, The Bridge succeeds as a series, because it is able to establish two levels of intrigue. We are drawn into the discovery of clues and the pursuit of the serial killer, but at a deeper level we are fascinated by the building of respect and friendship between two detectives who appear to have almost nothing in common.
The Bridge USA - SBS On Demand.