If you’ve been enthralled by the Sabres selecting Swedish defensive phenomenon Rasmus Dahlin, why not consider streaming some superb Swedish programming? With edgy police drama, thrilling Stieg Larsson films and first-rate actors like Martin Wallström of “Mr. Robot,” Sweden offers a smorgasbord of fine viewing fare. You would do well to start your Swedish journey by binge-watching “Fallet,” a hilarious satire of Scandinavian noir that stars two charmingly incompetent detectives handling a bizarre case.
Title: “Fallet” ("The Case")
Year it began: 2017
Where it can be seen: Netflix
Who’s in it: Lisa Henni, Adam Godley, Tomas von Brömssen, Christoffer Nordenrot, Magnus Krepper, Björn Granath, Meliz Karlge, Lia Boysen, Stina Rautelin.
Typical episode length: 30 minutes
Number of episodes to date: 8
Brief plot description: Sophie Borg, a maverick detective on the verge of being fired by the Stockholm police, partners up with Adam Godley, a bumbling British detective from St. Ives. To save their careers, they must solve the case of a murdered Briton in the remote Swedish town of Norrbacka.
Why it’s worth watching: “Fallet” is a side-splittingly funny spoof of artsy police drama that began streaming on Netflix in April (2017 in Sweden). Making fun of the gloomy atmosphere and grisly realism of Scandinavian noir shows like “The Killing” (Danish) and “Marcella” (Swedish), “Fallet” generates laughs by having its inept characters go through all the motions of gritty detective television.
It is amusing to see the clichés of Scandinavian noir — such as sweeping shots of melancholy landscapes and shadowy interiors filled with the macabre signs of ritualized murder — linked with such silly and ineffective investigators. The show features a great cast — especially the lead pair of detectives, whose distinct lack of chemistry increases the comedy. Playing to perfection the stereotype of the obsessively driven, loner detective, Henni is fabulous as Sophie Borg. Violent, moody and crudely direct, the fiery Borg clashes wonderfully with Godley’s sheepish and painfully polite detective Tom Brown, who has no confidence with guns and is unhealthily close to his creepy mother.
Other standout performances include von Brömssen’s cheerfully incompetent Chief Klas Wall; Nordenrot’s unskilled and unqualified but enthusiastic Bill Wall; and Rautelin’s hysterical Sonja Mustanaamio, a Finnish medical forensics examiner who enjoys sharing gruesome anecdotes with her colleagues. For those making their first dive into Swedish television, the fact that “Fallet” features both Swedish and English dialogue should make it an easy first port of entry.
Also to consider
“Bron/Broen” ("The Bridge"): For a masterly example of the Scandinavian noir spoofed by “Fallet,” see this Swedish-Danish show which just began its fourth season. A precisely half-Swedish show, “Bron/Broen” bears a double name due to its pairing of Swedish and Danish detectives who must work and talk with each other in their (mostly) mutually intelligible languages after a grisly murder scene straddles the border between Malmö and Copenhagen.
With a dazzlingly complex and macabre murder investigation that combines searing commentary on social injustice with psychotic vengeance, the first season (2012) launched a sublime series that pairs the socially awkward but fiercely focused Swedish detective Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) with her easygoing but equally committed Danish counterpart, Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia). The scintillating chemistry between the oddly matched investigators, combined with a first-rate supporting cast and darkly intelligent, socially conscious scripts, make “Bron/Broen” must-watch television.
Information: 4 seasons, 38 episodes, 60 minutes each; seasons 1-3 available on Amazon, Hulu.
“The Seventh Seal”: If you want to see (or revisit) one of the greatest works of world cinema, why not watch the finest film of Sweden’s masterly director Ingmar Bergman, “The Seventh Seal”? A dreamlike allegory set in plague-ravaged medieval Scandinavia, “The Seventh Seal” focuses on an existentially disenchanted knight, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), who returns from the Crusades along with his sardonic squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand). After making an unexpected arrangement that buys him some extra time to ponder his deep ambivalence about life’s meaning, Antonius takes up a game that not even the greatest NHL defenseman could win: He plays chess with the iconically portrayed, cold and ruthless Death (Bengt Ekerot).
In a gorgeously filmed journey that takes place in the intervals between chess moves, Antonius learns to appreciate such wonders as the joyful music and innocence of the cheerful Jof (Nils Poppe) and Mia (Bibi Anderson), who warm his soul by sharing strawberries and milk with him.
Information: 1957, 96 minutes; available at Amazon, Filmstruck, iTunes and Vudu.