Unit One - Season 1.
Created by Peter Thorsboe.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Charlotte Fich, Lars Brygmann, Erik Wedersøe, Waage Sandø, Trine Pallesen and Lars Bom.
Based on actual, real-life crimes, Unit One follows an elite mobile police force
as they are dispatched to assist local police in solving some of the
most complex and high profile cases Denmark has ever seen.
Due to the popularity of recent "Nordic Noir", re-releases of Danish
television series are cropping up habitually. One such re-release is
Unit One ("Rejseholdet"), a police thriller that ran from 2000 until
2004. It follows an elite police force that are sent to help with
various cases. Its cast, as advertised, appear in a number of
Scandinavian shows including Borgen, The Killing and Wallander. The
notable star is Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen, with top billing despite
him only being a supporting character. The star of this show, even with
it seeming an ensemble piece, is Charlotte Fich.
Unit One is based on real cases that happened around Denmark over 20
years, bringing a bleak, gritty edge to the programme. It's not always
so dark and the lighter moments (such as quips between the team) play
out equally well. It's tone will appear perfectly common thanks to our
own ITV drama The Bill and US imports such as 24 and CSI. The theme
tune, one of the first memorable elements, has a similarly frustrating
jingle to The Bill and could put you right off, as pathetic at that
seems. Get past the laughable music (theme tune and poor soundtrack)
along with some quite boring episodes and it may have you hooked.
With 9 episodes, each just under an hour long, Unit One's first season
is not a grade-A piece of drama though by episode 7 it begins to grip
you, as the cases become more intense and the characters start to seem
familiar. Each character gets the detail they need in order for you to
feeler obliged to follow and care about them, some more than others.
Fich as the team leader, Ingrid, gets the most screen time but
understandably so; a woman high up in the ranks with a quaint home life
sounds dull but is magnified and altered from time to time in
Mikkelsen as Fischer and his best friend/partner La Cour are the next
best inclusions to the group, with the latter regarded highly for his
"sensitivity" and someone you always want to learn more about. Mikkelsen
is a fantastic screen presence but has only the basic story-lines to
play with (bar one in which the case becomes warped with his domestic
life). The rest are merely standard extras to the team, yet Johnny Olsen
stands out as a refreshingly abnormal crew member.
Most episodes revolve around a stand-alone case and these are not always
so thrilling. The two-parters, notably 8 and 9, give reason for your
attention and, more so, your willingness to continue on with seasons 2
It's a distinctly average first season, although it matures into
something more special in the final three hours of collective runtime.
Give it that time and you may earn yourself a new foreign favourite. For
those not especially enamoured by the first 2 or 3 episodes, save your
time for more deserving titles (perhaps the other Nordic Noirs or maybe
the seminal HBO series The Wire).