Unit One – Series Two (Denmark: Rejseholdet)
Created by Peter Thorsboe.
Starring Charlotte Fich, Mads Mikkelsen, Trine Pallensen, Lars Brygman, Waage Sando, Lars Bom, Erik Wedersoe.
TV series following an elite mobile team of police investigators as they are dispatched across Denmark and further afield to assist local law enforcement…
With seemingly no limit to the extent of Scandinavian film and TV productions currently being released to the UK and beyond, it is surprising how consistently high the quality remains. The fascination for intense detective crime stories (such as Wallander, The Killing, The Bridge, The Protectors et al) shows little sign of abating, and when the narratives hit their targets, as they often do, why should it?
Unit One (or Rejseholdet, in Danish) originally aired on Danish TV in the early part of the last decade and takes its inspiration from real-life crime. Unit One itself is a mobile task force made up of specialists and experts called in to assist with particularly complex and extreme cases.
The young commander of the team, Ingrid Dahl, comes across as something of a template for the strong female characters that Scandinavian TV has lately become noted for. Well before The Killing’s Sarah Lund, The Bridge’s Saga Norén and Borgen’s Birgitte Nyborg, the character of Dahl displayed a powerful leadership ability alongside a humanistic good humour, ambition and instinct.
Charlotte Fich’s strong and multi-faceted performance confidently guides the stories and the rest of the characters toward their crime fighting goals. Under her leadership are a variety of team members with various strengths and weaknesses. Uncovering more of their characters as the series progresses, the audience can expect to discover plenty of uncomfortable truths about them.
These include Mads Mikkelsen’s (The Hunt, Casino Royale) Fischer, something of a hot-headed detective not averse to breaking procedural (and social) rules. His relationship with the sober – and possibly psychic – forensics expert La Cour (Lars Brygmann) is one of the highlights of an already superb series.
The feature length episodes themselves take on such grim fare as ‘honour’ killings, paedophilia and abuse of prostitutes, but somehow the dark is always balanced with the light and some of the gallows humour of police work comes through loud and clear. Importantly, the main characters are for the most part intrinsically likeable.
Remarkably even handed TV with much to recommend it, Unit One more than holds its own against similarly set – and more recent – rivals.
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.