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Norskov

What a tangled web we weave.

Especially when drug addiction, teenage cocaine parties, complex love triangles and the politics and pressure of combining police work with knowing almost everyone in town.

In this case, the small town is Norskov, Denmark. Tom has returned to his hometown where he is quickly assigned to crackdown on cocaine culture and underage nightclubbers. An encounter with childhood love-of-his-life sets a chain of events in motion that inevitably spirals into a complexity of relationships, politics, promises and deception, which took root decades well before and is only surfacing now.

Rumours, innuendo, criminal records and the clash of personal and business interests threaten to sink the cool, confident mayor. Secrets he has kept from his wife, his best friend, his colleagues could not only destroy his marriage, his chance to adopt a child and also his chance to see the success of a multimillion dollar infrastructure project he has masterminded.

Meanwhile, Tom has to find out the kingpins that are introducing almost pure cocaine onto the market, killing teenagers and mothers, and poisoning the town with distrust and devastation. Naturally, this is not clear-cut and those he knows and loves will become witnesses, suspects and threats to his life.

Like all small towns, friends from school become lifelong enemies, or lovers, or business competitors. This muddies the waters, creates entanglements that can ultimately drown one or both and also make for compelling screen time. Add a cocaine syndicate and you’ve hit jackpot.

In the vein of top quality Nordic dramas like Borgen, The Legacy, The Bridge and Follow The Money, Norskov is a skilful and memorable investigation of politics, love, family, desperation and redemption of the human spirit. The acting and the script are faultless. The intermingling of storylines, characters and their vested interests is done with care and subtlety.

CAT WOODS


Follow The Money

Whether you are a fully paid up member of the Nordic Noir fan club or you have yet to find the series that converts you, there is a high chance Follow The Money will fulfil whatever expectations you have of a top quality Euro series.

Rating highly on the binge-watching factor, this is an exploration into what happens when ordinary people become greedy and begin to see relationships, work and their own values through a golden hued kaleidoscope. Everything becomes the means to an end: more money, more power, more applause.

The writers and producers of Borgen (much lauded Danish political drama), The Killing and The Legacy are also behind this series; their ability to develop characters who could be our neighbours, friends and workmates means everyone is relatable. In the first episode alone, I found myself compelled to know what happens to the dodgy investments trader, the new and mysterious CEO of Energreen, the policeman who cares for his chronically ill wife and the two mechanics with criminal records.

How will they all come to interact and influence one another? What on earth is Energreen about and how can it be so riddled with corporate crims while claiming to be the world’s first truly ethical, sustainable green power player?

This first aired on SBS and despite having only just finished the whole series a week ago, I am watching the entire lot again. Possibly in one night. Can’t confirm – don’t want to give away my weekend social status.

If you loved The Bridge, The Killing, Borgen, Norskov and you’re all about smart scripts, great storytelling, compelling and relatable characters with a good shot of politics, business, crime and police procedural, then all your dreams have been answered.

Online forums would suggest there’s going to be a second series in which at least Alf returns. Fingers crossed for it to be as addictive as this first series of Follow the Money. Get it, watch it … watch it again.

CAT WOODS


11.22.63

Alternate history fiction – that genre where factual events are flipped and played out in divergent paths – is so popular because, really, we want to have our cake and eat it too. Bad things always happen and often lead to even worse outcomes, but what if we had a chance to tweak history? What if we could fix things? What would happen? Killing baby Hitler is one of the most common alternate history thought experiments and ethical dilemmas. But for many American baby boomers, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was an event so profound it tangled their minds for a generation or two. And who better to untangle it than Stephen King.

11.22.63 – the day Kennedy was killed – bursts out of the block in one of the most exciting and satisfying debut episodes of the last couple of years. Jake Epping (James Franco) is a low-key English teacher in bucolic suburbia. One of his only friends is the taciturn diner-owner Al Templeton (Chris Cooper) who has a door out the back that doubles as a portal to Dallas, Texas in 1960. Years can pass on the other side of the portal and translate to minutes on this side. Templeton has been taking multiple trips to the other side to stop JFK’s death – all of them fruitless. Now, on the verge of death himself, Templeton implores Epping to do the job properly where he has failed so many times before, to kill Lee Harvey Oswald before Dealey plaza happens.

Though this is pitched as a sci-fi alternate history yarn, Jake’s relationships with his new 1960 friends, especially Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon), are the heart of this eight-part mini-series. Franco, as ever, plays it so loose you’d swear he was making it up on the fly. But that final scene of regret and reconciliation – well, he knew all along what he was doing.

JUSTIN HOOK

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