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It’s hard to imagine a more perfect time for The Team to arrive on UK shores. A multilingual, pan-European crime thriller that emphasises the importance of countries working together, it’s like a piece of propaganda made by the European Union to remind us of the benefits of being part of the continent. A sort of EU Avengers.
The epic collaboration begins, as these things always do, with a dead body: a woman in Copenhagen, who has been shot in the eye and had her finger cut off. Quicker than you can put the subtitles on your telly and settle in for some Scandi noir, another body appears in Antwerp, Belgium. Then another, in Berlin, Germany.
It soon becomes clear that the police will be better off if they coordinate their eforts – and so Denmark’s homicide veteran Harald Bjorn (Lars Mikkelsen), Belgian detective Alicia Verbeek (Veerle Baetens), and German superintendent Jackie Müller (Jasmin Gerat) start to work together to crack the cross-border case.
They’re almost immediately on the phone with each other, sharing their own tidbits and breakthroughs – and, in a genre where a lot of time is spent dwelling on the baggage weighing on our hero or heroine, it’s a treat just to see a group of elite crime-solvers doing just that: solve a crime. They each have their own skills and strengths, one spotting a relevant newspaper in a photo, another pinpointing a suspect. The show benefits from the mix in policing styles and location too, enjoying the chance to hop between the three central cities as much as possible, each time picking out a cool establishing shot (credit to DoP Morten Søborg, who worked on the visually stunning Valhalla Rising).
We spend the most time with Harald, and Lars Mikkelsen more than justifies the attention. First introduced while on the top of a snowy peak, he’s as ambitious as he is focused, spending more time thinking about his work than his family life. But he’s far from heartless, displaying the same care and tact in handling witness as when he’s climbing mountains – one scene involving the daughter of the Copenhagen victim (“When will my mother stop being dead?”) is delivered with heartbreaking delicacy. Mikkelsen, who has been everything from Russian President Petrov in House of Cards to Soren in Borgen, is superb at being both hard to read and highly charismatic.
Jackie clearly his history with Harald – Jasmin Gerat generates chemistry with her Danish counterpart without even being in the same room as him. Alicia, meanwhile, is an immediately likeable fighter, keen to make sure she earns her place at the table. When they all come together for a Skype conversation, she wastes no time in berating her assistant for not researching a Belgian crime writer who may be involved.
There aren’t many teams that can pull off having a Skype chat as the climax of an episode, but The Team manages to make it surprisingly exciting. Peter Thorsboe and Mai Brostrom’s script skillfully lines up the usual suspects of gory corpses and twisting evidence, but it also captures the joy of teamwork: the episode switches languages more times than a Eurovision act changes costume, with dialogue flowing in French, Flemish, Danish and German. When the group begin to converse in English, you can hear in their slightly stilted manner the effort they are all making to communicate in the face of everything from murder and trafficking to prostitution, corruption and worse. Crime-fighters coming together from across Europe to defeat evil? The EU Avengers it is. And no matter what your political view, it’s brilliantly fun to watch.
The Team airs at 9pm every Friday on More4, with episodes available to watch online on Walter Presents after broadcast.
For more information on the other foreign-language shows available, see our Walter Presents TV guide.