Saturday SkandiKrime: Modus 2 – No Go

Convincing or not?

For anyone looking forward to my acid commentary upon the second series of Modus, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you.

Despite managing to get to see episode 1, I’m finding it impossible to get hold of episode 2 without having to register for the BBC iPlayer, which I refuse to do. It is possible to get hold of a complete set of the entire series without having to register for something (same thing applies), but despite being clearly marked as having English sub-titles, they don’t have them, and I don’t speak Swedish.

From what I did manage to see, I don’t think I (or you) am going to miss anything. Ing is now living with Ing and is heavily pregnant by him, her two children, autistic Stina and young Linnea, are still there but are obviously going to be side-lined for series 2, and Inger Johanna is heavily pregnant by Ingvar the Absence (eight months, judging by the size of the bump).

We started out with a long flashback in English, showing us why Inger Johanna left the FBI to return to Sweden four years ago. Despite a later flashback suggesting that she had fallen in love with her FBI boss, Warren Schifford (Greg Wise), and planned to leave her husband to live with him, the open directly implies that he beat her up and raped her.

But that’s not all. The bruised and traumatised Inger suddenly finds herself confronted by a blonde American woman, Mrs Schifford, who starts by being all ssisterly about the appalling thing her husband has done, before pulling out a cheap card: they have four children and the youngest is autistic…

You and I and the gatepost know that if Schifford has raped the fair Inger, not to mention beaten her up as is being signposted (this is the opening sequence of an eight part psychological thriller series so let’s not go overboard on believing everything we’re shown), this doesn’t make a blind bit of difference, but becauseĀ Modus 2 is clearly setting out to be shit-on-a-stick, Inger promptly drops the charges and goes home to Sweden.

Schifford gets delivered this news by his soon-to-be ex-wife, along with her terms: she will get what settlement she wants in the divorce, she will get full custody of the kids and he will never see her (hint: not the wife) again.

Jump four years. US President Helen (Kim Cattrall) Tyler, successor to Obama, arrives for a 36 hour visit to Sweden, with seventeen year old daughter Zoe (ironic reversal: Tyler used to live in Stockholm and Zoe was conceived there) and her Special Advisor, FBI Chief Warren Schifford.

Who’s displaying absolutely no interest whatsoever in the current whereabouts of Inger Johanna Vik, oh, nossir!

Then, because there has to be a plot, President Tyler goes missing from her room. The most secure room in all of Sweden, except for the secret tunnel that everybody knows about but nobody remembers until the tracker dogs find it. The sonic boom you hear at this point is the programme’s credibility disappearing through the sound barrier with my suspension of WTF? in close pursuit.

Of course, Inger Johanna, despite it being the middle of the night, and eight months pregnant, and an entire Hazmat-suited team of CSIs having bUggered off out of the suite AND nobody but the bloody tracker dog going down the steps into the tunnel after the missing President of the United States, goes down into the tunnel armed with only a torch.

Where she meets Warren Schifford…

Cue most obvious cliffhanger since the Stone Age. No, I was dubious from the moment I heard that Modus had roped in a cast of American stars to validate its second series (say what you like about Follow the Money/Bedrag 2, and I certainly did, at least it let Maverick Mess fuck things up with pandering) and this opening episode was a trial just to get through. Apart from the thought of the potentiality for snark, I am not in the least bereft at the possibility of not watching the rest of it, though if an easy and convenient way of accessing the rest crops up, I may return.

Instead, I shall now pop off to ASDA. I need to buy some milk…

More Modus

So Modus, ‘based’ on Anne Holt’s series of Norwegian psychological crime novels (based here being a word meaning ‘distorted out of all recognition’), has been granted a second series and will start up on BBC4 this coming Sunday evening.

And when I idly investigate what is likely to happen this time round, what do I learn? Well, for a start, Melinda Kinnaman is back as Inger Johanne Vik, would not normally be a hardship but that charisma-trench Henrik Norlen is also back as Ingvar Nymann. And, argh, oh my god, they are living together and she is pregnant!! He’s reproducing himself, can this be allowed? And is she really wearing her hair like that? Seriously?

And what about her two existing daughters? Stina and Linnea? They were the best thing about series 1 and it looks like they’re not even in series 2. And wait, who is in series 2? Why, it’s a big international cast, including Greg Wise, Billy Campbell, and Kim Cattrall, as the President of the United States, whose disappearance is the case that is to be solved.

Now this looks like it might be loosely based on the third Johanna Vik book, where series 1 was loosely based on the fourth. Until I watch series 2 (and read the relevant book in an English translation), I can’t comment as to how big a travesty the outcome is going to be, but absolutely everything I have read leads me to suspect this is going to be a disaster to rival the legendary Salamander, the standard by which all snarkfests are judged.

So, I have another week in which to sharpen the digital quill, and leave it soaking in a bowl of acid for Modus 2, but I cannot promise that, if it turns out to be the televisual Hindenberg I’m anticipating, I’ll actually last all eight episodes.

When, oh when is The Bridge 4 due?


Tales of the Gold Monkey: e18: Naka Jima Kill

Koji at it again

It’s late in the season, just four episodes left including this week’s vigorous affair. I have no idea when the decision was taken not to renew for a second season and whether or not this was known by now, but I was surprised to see a brand new credits sequence (and a new end credits sequence, comprising scenes from the episode).

Apart from adding Jack to the credits (as Jack, though the dog’s real name was Leo), all it is is new scenes. But even now, with the glorious exception of Person of Interest, series don’t change their credits sequences except when they’re trying to create a new buzz, rebrand, refresh, generate a new audience interest, and even then that’s usually between seasons.

I can only guess it’s a late attempt to create an audience bump for a show threatened with cancellation.

A story like ‘Naka Jima Kill’ oughtn’t to need this kind of artificial aid. It had the benefit of practically all the cast – only the Reverend Willie was missing – and a substantial role for Sarah, plus a vigorous guest appearance from a familiar name, a young Kim Cattrall, playing Newsreel star reporter Whitney Bunting, an old, dear and bitchy friend of Sarah’s from Vassar.

Whitney’s after the interview she was promised with Japanese Defence Minister Naka Jima. This should have taken place in Tokyo but was cancelled after an assassination attempt on the Minister, at close range, by a master of disguise. Naka Jima is coming to Matuka as a guest of Princess Koji, to meet various industrial magnates, and Whitney, who has clearances up the wazoo, needs a pilot to take her there with her camerawoman, Prudy.

And Whitney is bright, go-getting, drops names like a drunk drops empty glasses and patronises poor Sarah – all that promise and stuck singing in a backwater – until our favourite redhead is sorely tempted to reveal she’s an American spy. Whitney also needs the best pilot on the island to fly her and Prudy to Matuka. That’s Jake.

For once, Jake doesn’t get to grips with the female guest star, and it’s not just because Sarah’s along every minute. There’s a faint but tangible distance between him and Whitney, even before she admits that all her copious clearance papers are fakes and she’s heedlessly throwing everyone into danger, that I read as being born out of respect for Sarah, and a refusal to hit on her BFF.

Anyway, once they’ve been part shot down on Matuka, and Jake’s run the gamut of jungle traps, he’s got Koji and her rampant hormones to watch out for. Once again, she’s dropping them for him but Jake manages to avoid more sex with a hot Eurasian bird (why?) by convincing her that Naka Jima’s would-be assassin is on the island, in masterful disguise.

Which is why Sarah’s here, in her secret unofficial capacity.

Unfortunately, this is where I must report the episode’s most serious snag. The master of disguise assassin is the last person you would expect: he’s camerawoman Prudy Wells. And Michael Mullins does a bloody good job of the impersonation, except that the moment Prudy first appeared, I thought she was a man. Then I looked again, once I heard ‘her’ speak, and managed to about 90% convince myself ‘she’ was a woman. But the story’s twist was blown in that instant.

From then on in, things progressed pretty naturally. Forced room-mates Sarah and Whitney bitched at each other, with Whitney coming out tops by a good margin, Corky’s getting romantic about Prudy (though that side of things is kept below the embarrassment threshold), and Jack is sneezing every time he’s near the camerawoman. This is a clue: he’s allergic to the foam-rubber pads that make up ‘her’ curves. Koji wants to shag Jake something rotten,and Todo wants to give him a piece of his sword.

It all boils down to Jake realising ‘Prudy’ has disguised herself as Koji’s top geisha and crashing the tea ceremony just in the nick of time. Todo, having drawn his sword to kill Jake, satisfies its blood honour by slashing up the assassin and that’s mission accomplished. Time only for Whitney’s farewell, a r’approchement for the girls and Whitney’s suddenly envious of Sarah’s ‘peaceful’ life, with friends. Jake steps in for a hug, and that’s it.

I’m enjoying the back half of the run much more now than I expected a few weeks ago., and I’m starting to feel sorry that there isn’t a season 2 to go on to, four weeks from now. Still, I have something else planned to replace Gold Monkey day. That only lasted one season as well.