This series from the millennium period has been released on the back of the success of The Killing et al and it was worth digging out of the recent archives. A small team, Unit One - from the national crime squad, helps/takeover cases with/from the local police. Loosely based on real cases. It is entertaining and intelligent, superior to CSI this and that, more grounded in reality but for the time equally innovative. You can also see the origins of the later successes, The Killing and Borgen in this, as well as some of the same actors and now Hollywood star Mads Mikkelsen. I will be looking out for series 2.
This is a good, solid series very similar to Arne Dahl: the scripts are well written and the characters well drawn. Good to see Mads Mikkelsen (in a supporting role) clearly enjoying himself. Scandinavian and Nordic series are currently enjoying something of a renaissance, and this helping is up there with the best of them. I could easily have rated this 5 stars, but I tend to be fussy and like my dramas to have a hard edge. This series is easily an eight out of ten and I've just bought series 2, so hopefully as the characters grow the writers will excel themselves and my next review will feature 5 stars.
I can only echo the positive review that already exists. Despite being over 10 years old at this stage, Unit One has aged quite well and is streets ahead of the star-centric cop shows we have on UK tv. Good to see this fantastic show is now available (I picked up the whole run of the show from an Australian source) for the UK market.
Unit One is a special roving task force set up to investigate crimes all over Denmark. So don't expect the see Copenhagen all the time like in Borgen or the Killing however some locations will be familiar to fans of Danish tv. The first episode introduces the new boss of Unit One, Ingrid Dahl (the wonderful Charlotte Fich, and if you are a fan of strong female lead characters ala Borgen/The Killing then she will be your cup of tea) as she gets to know her team while investigating the death of a fellow police officer. She has a rough time of it to begin with as internal politics and personal tragedy loom on the horizon.
Mads Mikkelsen is the other big name on the team providing support as the guy who will break the rules to get the job done, and anyone familiar with Danish tv exports in the last couple of years will indeed recognise quite a few faces throughout the series. The rest of the group are all likeable characters and each bring their own abilities and quirks together in order to solves the various crimes at hand. This really is a great show and well worth checking out.
Back in October 2000, Danish public broadcaster DR started the first nine episodes of what would become one of their most successful series ever. The series ran for 32 episodes with the last episode airing on New Years Day 2004 and regularly achieved domestic audiences in excess of 2 million, a feat that even the more recent The Killing - Series 1-3 [DVD] never managed. This 510 minutes boxset contains the first nine episodes and features a wealth of Danish talent. Anyone familiar with other DR dramas will be accustomed to the high quality of the scripts, direction, acting, cinematography etc. Unit One is no different to Borgen: Series 1 & 2 [DVD] and The Killing in terms of quality. Unit One had a successful run on Australia's SBS TV channel but has yet to be screened in other English speaking countries. Known in it's homeland as Rejseholdet (loosely translated as Flying Squad), the series became the recipient of an International Emmy in 2002 for the Best Drama. I originally saw the programme after friends in Sweden recommended it to me soon after it's run there under the title Mordkommissionen. Having to rely on Swedish subtitles to follow the series, what immediately sprang to mind was "How can a country of such a small population produce such decent quality drama?" The wealth of acting talent introduces us to the younger faces of some familiar names to UK viewers of Danish drama. Probably the most successful of the original cast is Mads Mikkelsen who has gone onto work in films in the US as well as staying loyal to the Danish film industry with his recent film A Royal Affair [DVD]. Mads plays the role of DI Allan Fischer. Fischer is often the difficult to manage one of the team according to his superiors. Mads is the brother of Lars Mikkelsen seen in The Killing I and Those Who Kill - Series 1 [DVD]. We also see Trine Pallesen as junior member of the team Gaby Levin.Trine has recently appeared on Danish and UK screens in the final series of The Killing in autumn 2012. We also see Lars Brygmann as DI Thomas la Cour. Lars will be familiar to Borgen viewers as Labour minister Troels Höxenhaven. The three are part of a finely assembled cast who put 100% into their roles. Several guest stars appear in the run of the series, again familiar faces in this set include Thomas Levin (newsreader Ulrik Mørk - Borgen), Lars Knutzon (Bent Sejrø - Borgen), Søren Malling (DI Jan Meyer - The Killing I / Torben Friis - Borgen) and Benedikte Hansen (Birgitte Agger - The Killing II and Hanne Holm - Borgen). Look out for Søren in episode 3, blink and you'll miss him. He isn't even in the credits for that episode! Thomas Levin is seen and gone in nearly as quick a flash. If you've enjoyed The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge - BBC Series 1 [DVD] or Swedish Wallander with both Rolf Lassgård and Krister Henriksson, or if you like seeing a show with a female in the lead role you're sure to enjoy this. This is definitely the ideal replacement for The Killing and to enjoy after Borgen's second series in the winter. It seems unlikely that BBC4 will screen this series as they seem to prefer more contemporary programming. Having said that they did screen some old Montalbanos in the spring of 2012 and some Wallanders of the same age as Unit One in the summer. After Borgen finishes, the next Danish series, The Bridge, won't be ready for screening even in Denmark and Sweden until autumn 2013, so treat yourself to a copy of UNIT ONE in the meantime. Well worth a buy!
Often overlooked in favour of more famous Nordic noir – The Killing or The Bridge – Unit One is an excellent police procedural set in Denmark, well worth watching from the start of the first season. It gets off to a bit of a wobbly beginning as the ensemble cast (and the national crime squad which they play) settle down – but by the second disc in this boxset we were thoroughly gripped.
Based on real life investigations, the series follows the fortunes of a female detective who is promoted to run the national homicide squad. Her immediate boss (‘Evil Ulf’ as we like to call him) hopes she’ll soon discredit herself so he can appoint a proper (ie male) detective to the role, but the police commissioner has insisted on affirmative action. All of which makes the first couple of episodes a bit clunky and tiresome – and it shows the age of the series which dates back to the end of the 1990s. However, that thread soon fades into the background as the different members of the team develop their variously intriguing characters through a series of investigations. Some cases are wrapped up in a single hour-long episode while others stretch to two hours, so you’re kept guessing about how the investigation will unfold. And as they are based on genuine cases and the painstaking work of police investigations, each episode feels firmly grounded in reality. The interplay between the team members is cleverly portrayed; they bond around their new leader over the season and snippets of their individual back stories are revealed as the central plot and structure of each story takes on a pleasing familiarity. There’s a request for assistance from the local police; Unit One roll into town with their giant mobile control centre being towed by a famous footballer-turned-trucker. As with many Scandinavian series, this is subtle, nuanced material which may feel a little stilted or underplayed if you’re more used to shoot-em-up cops n robbers programmes. There is massive tension at times, and considerable violence either reported or implied, but this isn’t an action series. Try The Protectors, a more recent Danish TV series which leans more towards doing than discussing, if that’s your kinda thing.
Although Unit One is almost 15 years old, it hasn’t dated too badly – the foreign streets and countryside help to disguise its age. It’s intelligent and involving, and essentially more down to earth than the typical detective TV show. If you enjoyed Arne Dahl, then give this a whirl. 9/10
Tried the Swedish 'Wallender', well made, but a bit dreary for me. Ordered 'Unit One' thinking I'd possibly made a mistake with more 'Nordic Noir' - but I hadn't ! This is really watchable tv, and these 45-minute episodes are just the job as far as I'm concerned.
What I like about the show is the cast of characters in this roving Copenhagen Detective Unit. They are believable, and have an individuality which engages your attention. There are varied feelings going on between them, not all positive, and their individuality keeps you watching.
This is a well-paced investigative 'cop-show', but without the slickness and stereotypes you sometimes get in the genre, it's human. It draws you in by its intelligent realism, and soon you feel you know these people.
It is not in hi-def, but otherwise it's hard to realise this series was made all of 10 years ago. The series is first-rate: lively well-written cases, and excellent acting from the interesting cast of real people. Now we understand where 'The Killing' came from. Recommended.