DCI Dan Sommerdahl investigates murders in a lovely Danish coastal town with his best friend, Detective Flemming Torp, and his wife, Marianne, a criminal technician. But Dan's years of devotion to the job have hurt his marriage, and with Marianne wanting a divorce, Dan discovers his rival for her affections is none other than his best friend. And they all must still work together to solve crimes.
Exclusive to the AcornTV subscribers in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand is the Danish cop procedural, The Sommerdahl Murders, otherwise simply known as Sommerdahl. While there is a certain novelty to watching a foreign-language procedural show, Sommerdahl adds little to the oversaturated market of cop dramas.
Where there is a semblance of difference, is in the structure of the programming. This debut season consists of four cases, each comprising of two episodes, making up an eight-episode run. Each two-episode case is effectively its own standalone story, with a minor subplot that runs across the whole season. In a manner of speaking, this structure gives Sommerdahl a simultaneously episodic and serialised feel; our main characters gain development as the series progresses, but in general, it has very little effect on the actual cases, that could be viewed in any order.
Sommerdahl operates with a very limited cast, which sits it more in the Midsomer Murders area of the genre, more so than the CSI or NCIS area, with a stronger focus on motives and behavioural clues than an over-reliance on forensics and empirical evidence. It's an aspect of the show that will either feel delightfully casual and fun or frustratingly blase and down to luck more than good detective-work.
The two-episode length to each case is great as it does allow a greater depth to be given to each story. With nearly two hours for each case, more characters can be introduced, man red herrings can be inserted without being overly obvious, and the show is set up in a way that does show the audience the clues at the same time as the detectives, allowing the viewers to try and solve the case before the reveal.
Whereas a lot of the American cop procedurals are full of stern and stoic characters that simply tell you how and what they are feeling through the dialogue, Sommerdahl actually has some really good acting in it, especially when it comes to Detective Flemming Torp (played by Andre Babikian) and Marianne (played by Laura Drasbæk). Within the first few minutes of the first episode, Marianne's facial expressions let on to a history of neglect that is slowly revealed as the series progresses. It feeds into the subplot of character development that runs throughout the season, as the foundation of the protagonists' marriage starts to crumble; a plot that which oddly enough has yet to be resolved by the end of the season.
The only real let-down of the show is its main protagonist. Dan Sommerdahl (played by Peter Mygind. He is the traditional stoic and stern character, with that level of toxic masculinity that causes him to bottle things up until he lashes out unpredictably. It gives his character a childish and immature demeanour, despite possibly being the oldest person in the cast. It creates a layer of unpredictability to the show as his behaviour becomes more and more erratic and his judgement becomes clouded, but it makes his character rather unlikeable, which is less than ideal for a series.
Nevertheless, The Sommerdahl Murders is a fun police procedural set in a coastal area, with medium-level stakes and some light-hearted banter and camaraderie on display.
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