Given how many murder mysteries British television has cranked out since the advent of the medium alone, one is bound to seek out new blood, so to speak.Indeed, in the last decade alone, the UK has experimented with a variety of different formulas for their most famous television genre export (sorry, Doctor Who fans; no offense intended). As a result, we have seen TV shows which have been a bit too “Americany”, and a number of series that have come across like strange hybrids of other popular hits.
But of all the different recipes the Brits have been trying out on viewers, the Nordic Noir phenomenon has seemed to be one of the most contagious. In a good way, at that. A recent example of such an influence is proudly fused into ITV’s Marcella, now available on DVD from Acorn Media.
Gritty, dark, and hypnotically mesmerizing, Marcella‘s natural Nordic Noir vibe can only be attributed to its creator, Swedish screenwriter/director Hans Rosenfeldt. Previously, Mr. Rosenfeldt’s hit series The Bridge proved compelling enough to be remade for television in the UK, Russia, and even America. If that doesn’t convince you the element of Nordic Noir is a force to be reckoned with, you may want to stick to CSI: Miami reruns for the remainder of your existence.
Here, the marvelous Anna Friel stars as Marcella Backland, an impulsively-independent former police detective in London who is in the midst of a very bad point in life. Her husband, Jason (Nicholas Pinnock), has recently left her, leaving her to her own depressed devices, as their children are off at boarding school (they do that over there, Americans). Worse still, it would appear the serial killer she never managed to catch during her previous life eleven years ago has returned to continue their reign of terror. This prompts her former superior (Nina Sosanya) to bring Marcella back onto the force ‒ a move which most of her new colleagues (Ray Panthaki, Charlie Covell, Jack Doolan) greatly resent from the get-go.
But worst of all for poor Marcella is her tendency to occasionally lose her temper, to wit she experiences a complete blackout afterward. It’s a nice addition to the already winding road of suspects, one which regularly hints that our determined protagonist may herself be just as guilty of murder as the parties she regularly stalks in the hopes of digging up a little dirt on. At first, our heroine has no idea what could be happening, but that all changes when she (literally) digs up her estranged husband’s girlfriend, who hails from a powerful (and powerfully corrupt) family of building contractors, with whom her husband just happens to work as director of legal affairs.
Led by matriarch Sinéad Cusack, Marcella‘s Gibson clan ‒ including Maeve Dermody as the overprivileged beautiful daughter, Stephen Lord as the suspiciously silent stepfather, and Harry Lloyd as the token good-for-nothing son ‒ feels like a slightly more functional version of Arrested Development‘s Bluth family. Only with far worse (and sadly, much more believable) qualities. (Heck, there’s even a gay supporting character in the series played by an actor named Tobias! You can’t convince me this isn’t a coincidence, folks.) And in the skilled hands of Hans Rosenfeldt, it makes for an addictive eight-part series mystery which is guaranteed to keep you on your toes.
Presented on two-discs (with four episodes per disc), Acorn Media’s Marcella is presented in its intended 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio with optional English (SDH) subtitles. Special features for this release are limited to the usual EPK type of stuff (a selection of brief behind-the-scenes peeks, cast interviews, etc.), but that shouldn’t deter you from getting lost in this beautiful British/Nordic Noir offering.