CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Crucified on a Volvo? You don’t get more Scandi-noir than that!
Blinded: Those Who Kill
The first rule for any aspiring Scandinavian detective is to dress distinctively. It’s all about the clothes.
Inspector Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) supercharged the Danish knitwear industry in The Killing. Crime fans around the world were clamouring for a chunky pullover like hers.
Leatherware manufacturers in Copenhagen must be feverish with hope that criminal profiler Louise Bergstein (Natalie Madueno) will do the same for them, in Blinded: Those Who Kill (BBC4).
Louise Bergstein (Natalie Madueno) and Karina Horup (Helle Fagralid) in Blinded: Those Who Kill
Louise loves leather. She sports a black leather jacket criss-crossed with zips, and beneath that a brown leather shirt.
She isn’t so much dressed for the part, more upholstered like a sofa. I suspect the show’s producers got her half price in the DFS sale.
The second rule of Scandi-noir is that the heroine must drive a classic car. Think of Saga Noren’s fabulous olive-green 1977 Porsche 911S in The Bridge . . . so desirable it raised £125,000 at a charity auction when the show ended.
Louise has a burgundy Jaguar. True, Inspector Morse was driving one before she was born, but it does the job.
Burgundy is a good choice, because there’s a good deal of blood spatter as she hunts down a serial psycho who stalks and tortures young men. At the climax of the first episode in this opening double bill, the killer crucified his latest victim across the front end of a Volvo. You don’t get a more Scandinavian murder than that.
In this eight-part thriller, there’s no element of whodunnit. We know almost from the start that the bloodthirsty maniac who leaves naked corpses around the woods is Peter, a kindly father to young Johannes and a hardworking employee at a wood mill by day.
The first rule for any aspiring Scandinavian detective is to dress distinctively and the second is to drive a classic car
Peter kills people only when he’s had a row with his wife. She’s a career woman, who has just told him her latest promotion means a two-year posting to Singapore — without him or their son.
It might take quite a few inventively gruesome slayings before he gets over that rejection.
Not every viewer sees the attraction of a gory Viking murder-fest, where all the scenes are shot in stark half-light and most of the characters are exhausted, grief-stricken or prostrated by depression from the start.
But if you like your crime shows bleak and nasty — which I certainly do — this one is as harsh as home-brewed schnapps and as dark as February in Malmo.
The new series of Fargo (C4) takes a different approach, trying to pastiche epic gangster movies — and doing it with toilet jokes and a jazz soundtrack.
Jessie Buckley stars as a nurse from Minnesota, in 1950s Kansas. She cares for her patients ‘faithfully, until the Lord arrives’ — squirting poison into their saline drips and then sitting on their chests. And that’s her sweet side. Off duty, she’s more repugnant still, using racist language that Oswald Mosley might have regarded as a bit strong.
Ewan McGregor stars as Emmit Stussy in Fargo which also stars Chris Rock and Ben Whishaw
It’s deliberately offensive, as is the storyline: rival Irish, Jewish, Black and Italian gangs fight to control crime in the city. Writer and director Noah Hawley appears to be saying that racial factions are the bedrock of American society — either that, or he’s exploiting a cheap excuse for shocks and violence, the way that Quentin Tarantino also does at his worst.
There’s a powerful cast, including Chris Rock as a loan shark who invents the credit card, and an unrecognisable Ben Whishaw as a thug with dangerously divided loyalties. And it’s visually sumptuous, packed with immaculate props and costumes.
But with U.S. society so fragmented, it’s hard to understand how anyone thought the time was right for this black comedy.
Short fuse of the weekend: Gods Of Snooker (BBC2) told the life story of Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins. It’s probably a mercy he’s no longer here to object. When he was working on his autobiography, he attacked one ghostwriter with a bottle.