I have never watched a Scandi/Nordic crime/drama. Ever. I’ve read reviews of Borgen and the like, and I sort of knew what to expect when I sat down to watch Norskov on Channel 4. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Dark brooding skies? Check. Long brooding silences? Check. Damaged brooding detective? Che – well, you get the idea.
The programme is in Danish with English subtitles, but don’t let that put you off. This is a luscious, gorgeous programme. Back stories are filled in with a handful of words. There is no annoying music distracting the viewer from the dialogue. The countryside around Norskov is bleak yet beautiful, the kind of countryside where you go to be alone with your thoughts, or to die.
From the sparse dialogue to the meaningful glances, from the too-hearty man-hugs to the backslaps with a hint of menace, you quickly come to realise what Norskov is all about.
Norskov is a middling town in the North of Denmark, with nothing to recommend it apart from its harbour industries and its reasonably successful ice hockey team. Oh, and the ready availability of hash, cocaine and heroin.
When a young woman, Julie, OD’s on cocaine in the ice rink car park, and is left for dead by her so-called friends - a former Norskov native Tom Noack, is called in after 20 years’ absence to help the police rid the town of drugs and dealers. But there is more to the issue than just cleaning up the town.
Norskov is due for regeneration – a new secondary school, investment in intelligent housing and waterfront industries creating much-needed jobs. Julie doesn’t die, but the regeneration programme is at risk, and therefore the fortunes of the whole town.
Tom rekindles previous relationships with his sister and his friends. He also meets up with his ex, Diana, and they soon hungrily pick up where they left off. He thinks she’s a recovering addict, whereas she enjoys powdering her nose far too regularly. She lies; he believes her because he wants to.
Diana also has a son, Oli, a crack ice hockey player with the chance of a glittering future in the main team. When Oli is caught with a twist of cocaine which isn’t his, putting his dreams in jeopardy, Diana begs Tom to help him as if he were Tom’s son. She confesses that he isn’t – but is that another lie?
Each scene crackles with tension and words that are unsaid. There is a dark undercurrent of resentment, dislike and distrust. The friction between the main characters is almost palpable. Tom’s brother-in-law, Martin, holds a BBQ (yes, there’s snow on the ground. This is Denmark, after all), and says that everything’s going to be alright now that “Lassie” is back to save the day. Will Tom save the day? Can he? I certainly want to find out.
- Aired on C4, October 11 2017 at 22:35.