Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In short: Jordskott (2015)

I don’t generally write up TV shows around here, because I’ve grown to loathe the episode by episode approach that seems to only lead anybody using it to whining and complaining about tiny details, or launching into the kind of high level philosophizing that leaves the thing you’re actually writing about so far behind you might as well be honest and not pretend to write about it.

So I’m only putting down a few lines about this Swedish TV show (with Finnish, Norwegian and British involvement) because firstly, I’d nearly missed out on it completely myself, and secondly find some of the stuff I read about it on the net rather puzzling, if not to say wrong-headed. Mostly, I’m puzzled by this being treated as some sort of spiritual successor of The Bridge, when it is actually a fantasy show that uses elements of Nordic Crime television in a way that’s increasingly turning out to be a Swedish approach to the Urban Fantasy genre. It is a local and individual approach, though, with the series firstly being rural and not urban and secondly not trying to bore its audience by the umpteenth story about vampire princes and alpha werewolves, instead using Nordic folklore and the X-Files for their mythology.

For someone who finds urban fantasy often painfully samey, that’s like a breath of fresh air in the genre, as is the (perhaps too clever, looking at the reactions) use of Nordic Crime elements to awaken viewer expectations it then consciously and willingly disappoints; an approach I personally love, but that will find some people feel tricked.

Thematically, this is very much a show about family, in particular the bonds between parents and children, the joys and horrors of this love, and the destructive force of secrets and lies. Here private horrors make uncontrollable ripples in the world outside of family units.

All this is presented with mostly stylish, often atmospheric direction and a fine ensemble cast – particularly Moa Gammel is great. The ten episode show is probably one or two episodes too long, with one or two side plots taking up more space than they need to be, but that’s not any worse than your 20 episode US network show that could use to lose five of them. What might be a flaw to some viewers and turned out something I quite enjoyed myself is how all out the show goes with its fantasy elements as well as its melodramatic vein in its last few episodes, subtlety clearly not being on its table there.

But then, it’s a fun show when you meet it on its own terms, and one whose willingness to find something sympathetic and human even in the least pleasant of its characters is far more interesting than the much more common talk about “evil”.

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