When it comes to Scandinavian TV, us Brits like to focus on plot. The winding, expansive narratives. The script, which gives time to find nuances in both the lives of victims of crime and the detectives investigating them. The gripping twists and turns of each new revelation. The dark, grim nature of the themes and characters. Norskov, the latest Danish show to arrive on our screens, courtesy of Walter Presents, has all of those things. But the thing that stands out about it is its location.
You don’t name a series after a place without good reason, and Norskov wastes no time in leaving an impression, as the crumbling port town finds itself a hvaen for drugs that insidiously permeates the lives of those who live there. The mayor, Martin (Claus Riis Østergaard), has his hoped pinned on a development in the town’s port. And so as part of his regeneration plans, he brings in his brother-in-law, Tom, a police superintendent. Returning home after 20 years, Tom’s tasked with cleaning up the streets of the city, following a high-profile overdose – but corruption has already begun to spread.
After two decades away, it comes us no surprise that there are secrets to unearth and old relationships to rekindle – Tom’s ex, Diana, for example, who is also tied to a local construction firm, thanks to her brother. And there’s the town cop Brammer (Henrik Birch) for Tom to worry about getting along with. But while there’s family drama behind this homecoming to rival The Legacy (director Louise Friedberg if that series is one of the helmers here) or Acquitted, and political game-playing to match Borgen, Norskov’s unique appeal lies in its title.
Creator Dunja Gry Jensen’s choice of location is perfect for the story: the drama was shot on location at the seaport town of Frederikshavn, which feels raw and industrial enough to feel both believably drug-ridden and chillingly cold; characters walk around the windswept town with gilets and extra layers. With its hostile landscape and close-knit community, this is as much Western as it is Nordic noir, with an ominous, alienating atmosphere that recalls Sky’s recent drama Tin Star, but has a tone all of its own. Norskov? Yes-skov, more like.
Norskov premieres at 10.30pm on Channel 4 on Wednesday 11th October, with all episodes then available as a box set on Walter Presents.