If you yearn for law-enforcement drama whose mysteries cannot be limited to one side of the U.S.-Mexican border, binge-watch both seasons of the U.S. version of “The Bridge.” With first-rate writing and haunting cinematography, it offers a deep cast of engaging individuals struggling within a tragic region.
Title: “The Bridge” (U.S.)
Year it began: 2013
Where it can be seen: Amazon; Hulu; Netflix
Who’s in it: Demián Bichir; Diane Kruger; Thomas M. Wright; Ted Levine; Annabeth Gish; Ramón Franco; Eric Lange; Matthew Lillard
Typical episode length: 45 minutes
Number of episodes to date: 26
Brief plot description: When a divided body is placed so as to straddle the Mexican and American sides of the bridge connecting El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua homicide Detective Marco Ruiz becomes the unlikely partner of El Paso Detective Sonya Cross. As their investigation becomes increasingly complex and dangerous, they encounter individuals and institutions tied to the illicit international traffic in people and goods.
Why it’s worth watching: Based on the fascinating Danish-Swedish series Broen/Bron, the U.S. version of “The Bridge” reframes the original story in the dangerous and melancholy world of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Featuring moody cinematography and thoughtful pacing, “The Bridge” uses outdoor locations, excellent casting and much Spanish-language dialogue to immerse its viewers in borderlands culture. With its focus on illegal border transactions and Mexican drug cartel politics, “The Bridge” powerfully transcends the limits of its Danish-Swedish original. At the center of the show lies the fraught but increasingly close partnership between Bichir’s macho and yet sensitive Ruiz and Kruger’s socially awkward but talented Cross. These protagonists’ sorrows transcend the merely personal, reflecting on the violence and chaos in both Mexico and America. Other excellent performances in this series include Levine’s grizzled Lieutenant Wade, who mentors Cross; Wright’s alienated but ethical activist Steven Linder; Gish’s beleaguered but opportunistic landowner Charlotte Millwright; Lillard’s grotesquely unethical reporter Daniel Frye; and Franco’s proudly low-key cartel leader Fausto Galvan. While this mesmerizing show only lasted two seasons, it offers first-rate crime drama that channels both the horrors and wonders of the borderlands.
– Randy P. Schiff