Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money 2 – parts 9 & 10


A very nice actress, underused

Watching the end of the latest SkandiKrime series, I was prey to mixed emotions. Though Follow the Money 2 has been, overall, a much superior experience to the first series, with a stronger story, with more serious implications and much less utter dickery, even from Maverick Mess, I’ve sometimes found it unengaging and, dare I say it, ordinary.

The ending of the story, which spread as much justice around as it could, turned out to be flat and disappointing. It was confused and hurried, as if the show realised, too late in the proceedings, that it actually needed eleven episodes to tie up its loose ends, and that it was going to have to skimp on all of them.

And, not least with Maverick Mess’s resignation from a job he had never been suited for, it gave the strongest impression that the door was being shut to the almost-mandatory third series.

The last couple of episodes covered a lot of ground, and put a few characters in it as well. We started in predictable, and predictably dumb fashion, with a direct continuation of last weekend’s cliffhanger. P/Bo Peterson, the lifelong efficient troubleshooter, the expert, the ever-prepared, the man who keeps a silenced pistol in his bathroom cupboard, shoots Inscrutable Alf twice through the stomach at jig range and Alf not only survives (one flesh wound, one ruptured spleen, and spleen’s are just so 2016) but he’s back on his feet in Fraud Squad headquarters before episode 9 is over.

And, in contradiction to my gloomy assumption-of-cliche last week, Nicky breaks into Mess’s house to retrieve Claudia’s file (which Big Bad Knud burns), gives poor Kristina a wallop across the chops that knocks her to the ground and breaks her waters prematurely but doesn’t even leave a mark on her still-pretty face, but though it’s eleven weeks early, one Caesarean later, the baby’s in an incubator, and the little tyke is going to live.

Of course, Mess is going round telling all and sundry that everything’s going to be perfectly fine, he’s strong, she’s strong, nothing bad can possibly happen because I say it won’t, call me Pollyanna, and it all is.

But after that, the stupidity was over and the rest of it was all serious down the line.

By now, all three stories were tangled together, so I’m not going to try to split them up. The rapidly recovering Alf quickly identifies Big Bad Knud’s cunning scheme, which is to bankrupt Denmark. Not just Absolen Bank, and Nova Bank, come to that, but the entire country, send it into economic freefall (are you sure he isn’t a member of the Tory Party?). That’s been the plan all along, and when he’s trapped into confessing by a cunning and utterly immoral move by Claudia and Amanda, he even seems proud of it, since the krone was artificially high and needed taking down and peg or two (the billions of it pouring into the coffers of an obscure holding company in the name of his senile wife were just an unfortunate side-effect).

After a night of desperate selling to no avail, Absolen goes down, dragging Nova after it. Simon gets taken in to custody, on the basis that he can’t have been so all-fired stupid as he looks and been completely oblivious, even though we know he was. This leaves Claudia floundering to find a way, any way, to get Christensen. Both Amanda and her ex-husband, Steen, correctly point out that she’s only cared about that and revenge, not about the Bank that’s been the now-bankrupt Absolen siblings’ lives, nor her financially-straitened father-of-my-child, who she shops to the Police, guaranteeing him the same jail-experience she’s had, and provoking him to an unsuccessful suicide bid.

No, Claudia manages to keep Amanda onside by going to senile Grethe and getting her to sign a Power of Attorney in Claudia’s name that cannot in any world be remotely legal for an atosecond, but which gets her full access to Grethe’s company and passwords (thanks to a Bank Manager? Financial Adviser? Complete-and-utter no-mark who’s totally unaware that Grethe Christensen is, as Uncle Mort would put it, pots-for-bloody-rags: plothole of convenience of major proportions here).

Still, it’s not like Claudia and Amanda want this access for any legal purpose. No, they find a cool 450M krone accumulated since this time last night, break it into five equal parts, and shuffle it into five of Big Bad Knud’s Official Accounts and tip off Mess. Knud spots the difference, realises he’s been blindsided and comes in with his lawyer.

Knud’s willing to confess to massive currency speculation and economy-shafting because he knows two things. One is that, thanks to Nicky, he’s insulated from all the deaths and mayhem, and the other is that he’s going to negotiate a deal because he’s really only small fry: he can give them the Englishman, Henson.

You’d expect all this to infuriate Mess, but it doesn’t. Still, we’ve arrived at Nicky, let’s deal with his part in all things final.

P turns up at the garage, seeking sanctuary from Bozo Bimse, only to be spotted by a passing customer. P wants to be driven to Frankfurt, where he’ll disappear. Nicky retrieves P’s pills from his summer home, which the Police are pulling apart, but receives orders from Christensen to tie up the loose end in a more permanent way, by offing P. The Swede is still a bit too canny and has Bimse drive him off at gun-point. Bimse’s a bit clever though, contriving a stop during which he hides P’s pills as a lever against being let go. So P sticks a screwdriver through Bimse’s heart, for which Nicky puts a bullet through P’s head.

Nicky plans to disappear and send for Lina (who really is lovely: it would have been nice if Julie Gruntvig Wester could have had more screen-time) but when she gets pulled in by the Police, and is questioned as to whether Micky has had anything to do with the death of Benjamin Jepson – the now-deceased Bozo – it’s the final straw. Lina cuts all ties with Nicky, for both herself and little Milas.

But Nicky has a final mission: Christensen’s patience has evaporated and he wants Claudia to vanish. So, with everything lying in financial ruins, the Absolen siblings leaving their home, Steen suicidal and refusing to speak to her, Claudia comes home, strips off all her clothing and gets into the shower. Which is when Nicky levels an extremely phallic silenced gun at her.

Luckily, she’s put the television on in another room for the news she’s not listening to but which Nicky can hear. All about how the crisis is over, the Henson Group have saved the day, and about the tragic death of Knud Christensen, shot outside Police HQ today by Helge Larsen, grandfather of the dead teenager, Olga. Nicky steals away into the bright early evening, Claudia gives us a flash of tit, and Lina comes home to a shoulderbag full of 5,000,000 in bills, currency undefined, which Nicky had attempted to bribe Steen with. She cries, Nicky slides off into the night.

Wait a minute. The financial crisis is over? Henson has bailed Denmark out? Are we missing something here? No, it’s Maverick Mess, reversing all his characterisation. Mess has got the goods on Henson. He can put him away. He can break the biggest financial crime in Danish history. And he offers to shred the file. If Henson props up the economy.

So Mess goes back to HQ and, under the disbelieving eyes of Inscrutable Alf, shreds all the evidence. Because Mess has stopped caring. Because it doesn’t matter. Because before he was allowed to arrest Big Ban Knud, the Danish Finance Minister wanted him first, to bale out the country. Because for every Christensen there’s always someone bigger, richer and more distant behind him. Because Mess can’t do this any more. Because Mess is resigning.

It’s the Blake’s Seven ending again. The bad guys are too powerful for the good guys. It’s defeatism and gloomery and we-really-don’t-want-to-do-another-series-of-this.

And just like that, Follow the Money 2 ends, having thrown all its balls into the air and run away before they start coming down and someone might have to catch them. It’s a non-ending, really, a scorched-earth stop. You can’t say that there won’t be a third series, but on the evidence of the way this one was run into the ground, you can’t say that there’s obvious enthusiasm for doing this again.

It’s not just Blake’s Seven, it’s Douglas Adams/Mostly Harmless as well.

And it’s not at all satisfying.

Maybe we can have a Disappearance 2 next? I’m in the mood for something a bit not-Skandi…

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money II – Parts 5 & 6


The one on the left is a Detective. Can you believe it?

In the the week that Follow the Money II reaches its midpoint, no less a TV authority than Mark Lawson has pronounced that ‘Scandi Noir is Dead’ (find your own link, I’m not supporting that), which leads us to the obvious question: where does the Guardian get  allthese wankers from? Lawson, an intellectual, was part of the infamous televised sneering session about Terry Pratchett, during which Tom Paulin claimed Pratchett couldn’t write because he didn’t even put chapters in.

The reason for Lawson’s recent pronouncement of execution is a rather contrived Swedish/French crossover crime series, which sounds unlikely to threaten the likes of The Killing or The Bridge, but to assert that the whole genre is dead – less than a year after Trapped – demonstrates the by now inevitable confusion between opinion and concrete fact.

A real intellectual would not have ignored the fact that television has always broadcast a mixture of good, bad and indifferent series, and that no culture is free from the urge to cash in on successful and innovative concepts with cheap, derivative and inferior copies.

We are watching Follow the Money, after all, aren’t we?

That said, it was disappointing to find that, in it’s new, more serious and better-plotted style, the middle two episodes were, well, dull. The storylines began to mesh more closely, our three principals moved forward in the face of obstacles, Mess didn’t do anything massively dickish, and it was pretty much boring. Short of summarising developments, I have little to say.

I’m not totally without adverse comment, mind you. On the Fraud Squad side, a new figure came into play, one Helge Larson, former staunch collaborator with Big Bad Knud, until he went down for Fraud in 2007. Larson can put the finger on how the wily Knud operates, that is, if he can refrain from blackmailing the self-satisfied old bugger for his silence. All this gets him is Knud delivering direct instructions to Nicky the Apprentice to kidnap Larson’s bright, perky, sixteen year old granddaughter, Olga, in return for the relevant paperwork. No police.

There are a couple of egregious cliches coming up on this strand, and the pre-episode 6 warning of ‘Disturbing scenes’ pretty much gave away that little Olga was not long for this world. Firstly, she’s wearing one of those Fitness watches which, when she switches it on, enables Mess and Alf to track her via its GPS to the factory where Nicky is keeping her. Except that when they arrive, she’s gone… but the watch has been left behind.

Next, Nicky takes her to a house in the woods. Olga manages to escape, brains him with a fire extinguisher, but not hard enough (once you’ve got them down, smash their head in with the blunt instrument: that’s a cliche I’d like to see get established). So she runs, and he runs after her, until she slides down a mini-cliff to the beach, and gets a chunk of rotted wood right through the abdomen. From which, of course, she dies.

Second egregious cliche time: Mess tracks Olga’s footsteps back and finds the deserted house. Nicky’s inside, doing a professional job of cleaning the place under P’s instructions. Mess is prowling around. Any moment, he’ll see Nicky’s car, with the open boot showing the full clean-up kit… except that at that very moment, Mess’s phone goes, with the sad news of Olga’s passing, so he returns without completing his investigation. Sigh.

Having brought Nicky’s strand in so close, let’s stick with him. He’s still the model Apprentice, though he risks alienating Bimse further when Annika, P’s daughter, turns up at the garage, drops hints as heavy as lead balloons that he shagged her after the club last week, and wants more of it, in the office chair. Bimse, who’s a friend of Lina as well, is well pissed-off, but when Olga dies, and Nicky, suddenly scared shitless of where he’s arrived in his part-time career path, decides he has to run, the Bozo is immediately supportive, and tops up Nicky’s getaway 10,000 kr. with 5,000 of his own.

To no avail: P turns up, mob-handed, and Nicky gets the shit kicked out of him.

But we’re ignoring Claudia, who gets shafted in more ways than one this week. Enter Nova, with a 50% increase on their last, already inflated if for Absolen Bank, the literal ‘Offer-you-can’t-refuse’. Claudia helps Amanda put together a last minute pitch to a better buyer, the progressive Italian bank, Banco Fiore, who’ll match the deal. Amanda’s pretty wiped out by now, so Simon has her sign Power of Attorney over to him, so he can conclude the deal.

By sacking Claudia with immediate effect, blowing off the Italians and going direct to Big Bad Knud, waving the listening device, and negotiating a ale on condition Simon only is Manager.

A semi-drunk Claudia invites Jens Kristen around to mope with, and ends up shagging the arse off him, though she will learn, at the darkest hour, that not only does he have a partner already, said partner is about eight months pregnant. Is that enough to be called an egregious cliche? I think it is. Let’s make that number three, then.

But Claudia is not giving up her battle against Big Bad Knud in only episode 6, so she cleans up the manic Amanda (a bit too quickly and efficiently for direct plausibility, but then how long had plausibility been a key factor of this programme?) and sets her off to blackmail dear brother Simon. It just so happens Amanda has some pretty potent stuff up her pretty sleeve, so Nova Bank buys Absalen, with two Managers, one of whom has promptly re-hired Claudia.

But what, you are all demanding to know, about Maverick Mess? He’s pretty damned rational and reasonable this week, which is oddly offputting. True, he subjects his son Albert to a Police interrogation over Albert’s mate’s missing iPad, which is there at the Justesen household (GPS comes in so useful). But the moment he finds the missing electronica under his car seat, he immediately goes and apologises to the lad.

But Mess cannot leave off being Mess totally. In his grief over Olga’s death, Larson supplies the key information which will let the Fraud Squad, under the pretty, blonde Heenrietta as acting Chief, get Knud for offences sufficiently serious as to not be statute-barred, but that’s not good enough for Mess. So they can put Knud in prison for two years, destroy his standing, have him disbarred from company ownership, etc. Two years is not enough for Mess, who personally demands life, rot in there, man’s a shit.

That’s the Mess we are used to. Instead of catching a guilty man now, let’s do nothing, monitor his takeover of Absolen Bank, catch him out doing something more serious. We do have four episodes left, remember. Let’s do something really stupid, just because one idiot detective says so.

Seems like the show comes through in the end, eh?

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money II – episodes 3 & 4


So far, she’s coming out the best

After last week’s snark-infested introduction to the second series of Bedrag (Deception), I found the next pair of episodes to be extremely confusing. On the one hand, the show is displaying clear signs of taking off into very serious, and very deep-lying waters, in all three of its inter-twined strands. On the other, my distaste for each of its’ trio of heroes is growing, and in one case is turning into disgust.

The dichotomy presented itself in the opening moments of episode 3, which immediately had me both admiring and groaning, and which became emblematic of what was to follow.

We ended last week with Nicky, growing increasingly curious about the business of the enigmatic but laid-up-with-heart-trouble P, tracing the fruits of the wiretap back to the Big Bad, Knud Christensen, but being caught out trespassing by the man himself. Christensen is all avuncular and secure, wanting Nicky’s name and threatening him with the Police. But Nicky, who in series 1 would have panicked nearly as badly as would Bimse the Bozo, counter-threatens by revealing that he is wire-tapping for Christensen, who lets him go (though not without a warning, to both Nicky then, and P very shortly afterwards, about how unwise such things are).

Nicky, having successfully faced down the Man, returns to his car. Where he promptly reverts to most abject cliche by pounding on his steering wheel to relieve his frustrations. Seriously, does anyone outside crap television ever pound on their steering wheel in frustration? And they always do it three times: not four, not two, but bam! bam! bam! Cripes.

But the problem is that, as the various stories start to unroll properly, we start to see that Follow the Money 2 is getting very serious indeed. On the one hand, we have the Fraud Squad, investigating what appears to be a disgusting scheme by one of Denmark’s major financial institution, Nova Bank, to force small but promising businesses into bankruptcy so that their assets and customers can be taken over by already-established businesses at an undervalue.

Then we have Nova Bank trying to takeover the up-and-coming and entirely innovative Absolen Bank in a very hostile manner, applying public pressure and naked appeal to Shareholders’ greed on the one level, and dirty tricks on the other.

Christensen is behind both of these schemes and, on the third hand, we have P carrying out the dirty aspects of the jobs by remotely operating the increasingly efficient Nicky to wire-tap, deal drugs, blackmail and, entirely off his own bat, viciously assault and probably seriously injure someone who stands up to him.

Let’s stick with Nicky for the moment. Remember that he started off in series 1 as an experienced car thief, looking to clean up his act for his wife and her baby bump by becoming a garage owner, but getting mixed up with the rather more active P. By this series, he was a regular ’employee’ of the Swede fixer, as primarily a messenger boy, but P’s health problems (double-bypass heart operation) have led to him being promoted to an active role as his stand-in.

What we’re watching here is Nicky going through an apprenticeship to become another P.  He’s taking to it like a duck to water, which is disturbing to watch. For the sake of his wife and his trusting kids, you want him to come to his senses, back out, go back to just petty crime (because this guy is never going to actually go straight, you can tell).

But already it looks like its going to be too late. Nicky forced Bimse into a dangerous scheme to recover P’s Black Audi, that Bimse has sold to an East European gang for shipment abroad, and all so that he can tell Bimse to take it to the Police, cough for Nicky’s assault on Mess last week, and do Nicky’s time for it. Sure, he’ll get 20,000 kr a month for it, but if the Bozo won’t voluntarily do a head-first into the shark-infested pool, Nicky will kick him in there, without a a qualm, and without any 20,000 kr a month.

If that’s not enough of a bastard’s trick, Nicky’s next job is to provide drugs to the son of a major investor in Absolen Bank, and blackmail the Dad into voting Nova’s way to ensure the photos don’t get into the Press. On the way, Nicky ends up snorting coke himself and, whilst coked out of his brain, staying out all night and impliedly shagging P’s daughter.

Let’s just go back a moment for a brief scene where Nicky tells his missus that he hates his dead father, who assaulted him and cheated on his mother. Unusually, the scripters have her ask and him explain why he’s never told her this before, which he passes off, indirectly, as a determination to leave it in the past, but which is really so that we will readily understand his loss of control when, the takeover bid having failed, he pursues the Dad, who didn’t vote for Nova Bank, and kicks the potentially living shit out of him for not defending his son.

One youngish man, on a dark path, leading only downwards. I bet P doesn’t take too kindly to Nicky shagging his daughter…

I’ve already had to reveal that the Nova Bank takeover has been thwarted, at least for now. This is the story for Claudia the Amoral. Claudia is determined to stop Christensen having this victory, and says so, impassionedly, to convince another top-ranking businessman to enter the fray as a White Knight. The big problem, and this is directly voiced by our old friend, Jens Kristian, is whether Claudia means this, or whether it’s a ploy.

Claudia says she means it, but we have our doubts still. Claudia is still set on getting her life back as quickly as possible, which suggests that she’s not thoroughly internalised the message that massive fraud and dirty financial tricks are not ideal behaviour. She’s already trying to skirt some of the conditions of her parole, and expecting her Parole Officer to bend the rules in her direction, just because that’s what she wants.

Of course, she’s ideal to head off Nova Bank’s takeover, because she knows what sort of dirty tricks, above board, that they’ll use. Pardon my ignorance of such things, both here and in Denmark, but do companies aiming for a takeover really get to go on TV finance programmes and basically say that the people refusing to sell smaller, successful, innovative, creative enterprises are a bunch of shits for not letting us buy them out considerably over the odds so that we can destroy absolutely everything remotely innovative about them and just make shitloads of money (I paraphrase)?

Claudia’s biggest problems are the Absolen twins. Simon is basically a wet and a weed and of no practical help whatsoever (until the very end of episode 4, to which we’ll come shortly). Unfortunately, the very much more effective Amanda (hello, Sonia Richter) doesn’t like Claudia that much, doesn’t agree that she’s completely and utterly right, and is, let’s not forget, a recovering coke addict (and I don’t mean Diet, or Cherry).

And Amanda is struggling. There’s a powerful scene, opening episode 4, where she’s at Narcotics Anonymous, where she’s bitter and sarcastic, wanting – needing – a fix, and unwilling to accept what she sees as platitudes from the others in the group. It’s suggested, very cleverly, that Amanda is a very intelligent woman, much more so than the people her life causes her to associate with, and that her use of drugs and drinks is to suppress the frustration of cdealing with those she sees as stupid.

That’s bent in a slightly different direction later when, to Claudia, she affirms that she’s starting one of those periods where she keeps getting strange thoughts. She says this whilst constantly sipping from a wine-glass she keeps refilling. The inference is a mental issue, as is a reference to enjoying being the centre of attention, but it’s not inconsistent with the notion that she’s simply too bloody bright for everyone else. There also some hints at secrets in the background of the relationship of the twins (an incestuous fascination frustrated by Simon’s supposed homosexuality?).

Anyway, Amanda’s out of control and in no fit state to be the Bank’s public face in the EGM that will decide its fate. But when the already lesser Simon is completely floored by having his entire speech, word for word, given by Nova Bank’s representative, Claudia has to get Amanda in at the last second, for a crowd-turning speech that saves the day.

Am I the only viewer who is wondering if this miracle recovery was brought about by Claudia slipping Amanda a fix? Let’s see.

Before leaving this strand, let us pause to recognise that Simon isn’t quite the weak link he has been presented to be thus far. Claudia’s too busy putting out fires (and enjoying a surely premature sneer at Christensen) to care about the plagiarised speech, and the excitable Amanda dismisses it as Simon having been too bloody predictable, but he’s suspicious. Very suspicious. And on the right trail. It takes ripping the room apart, but episode 4 ends with Simon finding the wire-tap, with an entirely justifiable cackle.

I’ve saved the worst for last, and the worst is Maverick Mess. You already know what I think of him, but honestly, throughout these two hours, this idiot topped himself over and over again. I mean, at one point, his boss, Nanna, head of the Fraud Squad, screams in his face that he’s so bloody naive, he only sees things in black and white, which is spot on the money (he also can’t wait two seconds for anything, the big kid), and then the programme has him acting like he’s the winner, and in the right.

Basically, he and Alf, with the increasing assistance of the computer wizard, Henriette (this series’ version of The Bridge‘s John: there’s only ever one person who know how to do more with a computer than surf Facebook), are building a case. It starts with Nova Bank’s Bjarke Strand, the middle-manager on the Crisis Team, who selects which small businessmen are to be forced to the wall. Mess and Alf investigate him for signs of unreasonable wealth, of which there are none, until he’s caught stepping out with an attractive blonde (tsk. And he with the lovely and trusting Lise for a wife, plus eighteen month old twins).

Mess proposes to stalk Strand, get proof of his affair and blackmail him into coughing up, which is probably page 5 of the Fraud Squad Operating Model. Instead, it turns out far more than an affair. It’s a business deal, with prominent businessmen. The blonde is a professional Trustee in Bankruptcy, who sells off the businesses forfeited by Nova Bank (at a precise 7% below valuation every time), to these very businessmen.

Mess, very professionally, and now on page 7 of the Fraud Squad Operating Model, shows her photos of Hans Peter with his head in a pool of his own blood and shouts in her face until she inadvertently gives something away.

Moving on to page 8, he arrests Strand and, when he won’t talk, promptly calls in a favour and has the claustrophobic Strand taken to a spare cell in prison for the 24 hours until he has to be arraigned. Fur hilven! I don’t mean the Police cells, I mean an honest-to-goodness, doing-their-bird, fucking State Prison!

It works, of course, we are in idiot country here and given what issues the series is starting to develop (and I haven’t even finished exploring them all), we get stupidity like this? Strand knows nothing more than that he’s told who to push over the edge, from a higher-up department, but he has something interesting to tell them: he knew they were coming.

That catches our intrepid pair’s attention. Yes, Strand was warned they were on the way to arrest him, and was told to get out of the country for a few days, because it’ll all blow over, the fix is in, the case will not proceed, the Head of the Fraud Squad will kill it.

This isn’t actually news to the viewer. Episode 3 ended with Nanna insisting on getting every detail of the burgeoning case, and then calling on Christensen, though episode 4 suggested that she wasn’t entirely under his thumb, just going to make sure that the investigation didn’t get above a certain level at Nova Bank. Of course Mess, with that subtlety for which he’s famed, heads straight for this restaurant-cum-bar where Nanna is out with some bloke and accuses her at thhe top of his voice of being in Christensen’s pay. Smart cookie.

And yes, Nanna has to obey some orders. Christensen’s got a hold over her. And guess what it is? It’s all Mess’s illegal fuck-ups from series 1, over Energreen. Nanna covered for Mess and Alf over everything. She put her job on the line for him, and her reward was to have Christensen lean on her to interfere with this investigation, and the dumb, stupid, self-centred fuck can’t even lessen his contempt for her not being as pure in pursuit of crooks as he is.

Do you wonder why I loathe the self-righteous bastard?

What Nanna does next is resign, which is a highly principled step at deep personal cost to herself – cost brought on because Mess was such a stupid bastard in series 1, let’s remember – and what is the git’s response? I mean, she’s not just thrown herself on the sacrificial sword to protect him, she’s left them a lead that points directly to Christensen himself at the top of every woodpile. Does Mess how the slightest sign of personal responsibility? No, he’s just pleased to have an obstacle removed, and Alf drips on his neck that it’s Mess’s shining example that’s inspired Nanna to do the decent thing.

Do you wonder why I find this series confusing?

But that, even now, is not all. There is the lovely Kristina, Mess’s wife (though she doesn’t wear a ring), mother to his children, Esther (who has vanished without explanation) and Albert, and putative mother to a third baby. Only Kristina has sclerosis. And doubts.

Serious doubts. About her age, her condition, her future and the fact that she might not have a long one. She has very serious concerns about birthing a baby that may very well lose its mother at an incredibly young age. What mother, or possible mother, could face a late-life pregnancy in such circumstances without very deep thought about the consequences?

But Mess wants the baby. And what Mess wants, Mess has to get. It’s all dead simple to Mess. We didn’t have Esther and Albert under ideal circumstances. Look at this home movies of our children when they were dead young. It’ll all work out. It might not happen. I CAN’T THINK ABOUT IT.

There’s a line Mess has, when Kristine brings up the real chance that she might die sooner rather than later. “I can’t go around thinking that you’re dead already.” It shows that the scriptwriters are not entirely stupid. It’s an incredible line, I feel it, I understand it, I understand how this feels to him, all from that one line. He loves her, he doesn’t want to lose her.

But he’s also insisting on her having this baby, at her age, in her incurable medical condition, out of her body, with all her fears and doubts, and he’s prepared to emotionally blackmail her to get his way, and take a risk with shortening her life, and he won’t even fucking think about her side of it?

Do you seriously wonder why I loathe the self-centred twat?

So. Let’s hope for something a bit better next week. Suddenly, we have a story worth watching, worth thinking about. I just wish we had a set of ‘heroes’ I could better respect to play it out.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money II – Parts 1 & 2


Honestly, we’ve had to wait two months for another Saturday night SkandiKrime series on BBC4, and when we get one, it’s this piece of half-assed tripe, starring Maverick Mess, Alf the Inscrutable and Claudia the high-flyer, who dabbled in high-finance fraud, got busted and is now having to make ends meet making coffee because no-one will give her a responsible job, can’t think why.

Oh, oh dear god, no, we have to put up with Nicky again, now working for the mysterious P.

I have my doubts about this before we start, I tell you, I have my doubts.

Nevertheless, let fairness prevail, especially as this season’s cast includes the fair Sonia Richter, the ultra-Christian v-logger provocateur of The Bridge 3, albeit with the most unflattering hairstyle possible.

To begin with, we have a lengthy recap of series 1, followed by an eighteen months later card. It may be eighteen months later but Mads the Maverick Mess is still obsessed with Claudia and Sander Sodergren (who lies dead on some foreign field, with P’s bullet in his left eye). Mads is a Mess with a Mission, which appears to be to relive series 1, but never mind, he will soon find another cause to blunder about in pursuit of, without any concern for procedure, practice or the Law. Before episode 1 is over, we will get the perfect Mess Moment: a disturbed man, ruined by Bank Fraud, has taken a branch hostage with a sawn-off shotgun, the Police have it under control, the hostage negotiator is on his way, but Mess can’t hang around, Mess has less patience than a five-year old separated from his packet of sweets, Mess charges in to talk to the man (the ever-brilliant Soren Malling in a far-too-small guest role), as a consequence of which he gets his head blasted off by a sharpshooter.

Sigh. The second series starts with an overwhelming credibility problem: how in Yog-Sothoth’s name is Mess still in the Fraud Squad when he can’t stand anything about the way it works and has to go off on crazy, personal jags all the time?

Having said all of this, and without detracting one little bit from it, I have to say that there’s the makings of a decent story underneath, showing through the general crud in fits and starts. We have two principal strands connected by the same villain, Sodergren’s boss, Knud Christensen, acting through his super-competent henchman, the quiet-spoken Swede, P.

Let’s start with Mess. Mess is approached by Hans Peter (Malling), a master carpenter whose once-thriving small business was forced into bankruptcy by his Bank, after promises of support. Hans Peter’s order book has ended up in the hands of another master carpenter, who only happens to be the brother of the Financial Adviser who cut him off. The bank is Nova Bank, headed by Christensen.

Hans Peter is gradually going off his head because no-one will listen to him, those no-ones including Mess, because the personally involved maverick always has to be motivated by the tiniest and most cliched of personal morality: I didn’t listen to an obviously disturbed man who pulled a shotgun on a bank of innocent hostages and git shot, therefore I am solely responsible for his death, not the fraudsters who drove him to this, and I must immediately find a rule-book, so I can rip it up in my pursuit of the truth. Please, can one day we have a policeman motivated by just doing the right thing?

Everybody but the born-again Mess (and his Inscrutable sidekick, who’s clearly been brain-washed over the last eighteen months, since he’s started taking Mess seriously without overwhelming evidence) thinks Hans Peter was an obsessive, but once Mess gets on the trail, people (i.e., P) start covering up (a-ha, it’s Messgate!) and by the end of episode 2 a second victim has come forward, offscreen.

Mess has also had his skull beat in with a pipe-wrench, whilst suffering no more than a cut scalp, which suggests a joke so obvious that you can write it for yourselves.

Incidentally, said pipe-wrench is being wielded by Nicky, who has learned nothing from his experiences of series 1 and is now working as an occasional bag-boy for P, that is, until the Swede has a heart-attack in episode 1 and has to start using Nicky as a leg-man. How can we tell Nicky has learned nothing? He is prepared, until his lovely blonde lady tartly reminds him what a fucking stupid idea it is, to let Bimse the Bozo come along on one of his jobs. So far, the Bozo has been somewhat underused but there are signs that this reprieve is only temporary.

But what of Claudia? This is where the series displays some genuine muscle, and has got me intrigued as to where it intends to go. Claudia has done her porridge and been released, alone and friendless: even her little kiddie wants nothing to do with her and wrenches her heart by calling her Claudia instead of Mummy. Claudia has work to do to get her life back on track. She’s been in chokey, she’s been disbarred, everybody knows she’s a fraud, which means liar, cheat, somewhat unreliable, the works.

And there’s Christensen, calling her in for an interview, deep sympathy, got to look after you, one of the family, everyone took in terribly by Sodergren, why don’t you look up your old college friend, Ulrikke, at this new, radically different, highly successful Absolen Bank that Nova wants to take over?

So Claudia visits Absolen Bank, to pitch an offer to brother and sister owners, Simon and Amanda Absolensen (the lovely Sonia). Christensen wants to buy you out. I don’t want him to succeed. If you hire me as a consultant, I can show you how to fight him off.

Ah, Claudia! It’s Shortcut City, Arizona-time at best, but there’s a considerable amount of curiosity in watching our favourite brunette operating in the manner that got her canned last time out. I mean, is the lovely Claudia on the level, or is she some deep-lying Fifth Columnist, inveigling herself into the Absolensen siblings’ confidence (well, Simon’s at any rate) only to bring them down from within and make them vulnerable to Christensen?

Or is she just so much of a moral vacuum that her underhanded, dirty, cheap methods – lies and entrapments, just to behind with, and just generally fucking over the ethical standards Absolen Bank exemplifies – will end up cracking the Bank wide open?

It’s far from impossible that Claudia is starting off in column B, i.e., noble purpose but moral swamp, and will transfer to column A just once she’s buggered the Bank with her dubious tactics.

And we know these strands to be interconnected, not merely because this is a ten-episode series with limited imagination, but because Nicky has planted a sophisticated listening device in the transparent glass lightshades of the Absolen family home conference room…

One last element to mention, so that we can duplicate as many elements of series 1 as possible: Mess is still married to the sclerosis-suffering Kristina (a welcome reappearance by the shopworn-but-still-lovely Lina Krause) who’s not having an affair with her doctor this time, but who is definitely showing some signs of low esteem because she’s sticking to Mess despite his habit of sitting up all night reading Hans Peter’s file instead of coming to bed with her. The sclerosis isn’t an active issue at present, she’s well enough for him to screw her on his desk, but episode 2 ends with her announcement that she’s pregnant.

That, I think, is enough to set up another month of my sub-Clive Jamesian snarkings. Not all Saturday SkandiKrime can be The Bridge, or The Killing, but it’s still fascinating by virtue of the underlying strengths and elements Danish TV brings to a genre that is near enough played out in the UK, and when it falls short of the very high standards it can reach, I’m always prepared to slap its cliched and unimaginative face for it.

 

Saturday SkandiCrime: Follow the Money parts 5 & 6


Natalie Madueno

I’ve started, so I’ll finish…

By that I don’t mean that I’m considering dropping Follow the Money, merely that for the remainder of its run, I’ll be watching it via the relative luxury of an i-Player Sunday morning, and addressing it in relative leisure.

Having said that, I am wondering what more I can say about the series that would be more than a pointless recapping of plot points. Two further episodes, taking us through the middle, and both ending with cliffhangers that I’d spotted coming from various distances, did not alter in any way the steady, passionless, tension-less progression of the series. Follow the Money remains efficient and competent, free from the kind of witless application of rotten cliche and stupidity that enabled me to endlessly snark Salamander, but without creating a sense of investment. I’m curious as to how it all comes out, but I’m not worried about the possibilities of tragedy in the ending.

This week, episode 5 felt like a particularly long hour, as the story advanced on multiple fronts, with no emphasis on the importance of any. Journalist Mia (Chinese Alf’s face-slapper), getting stonewalled in her attempts to uncover dirt on Energreen, is visited by a Deep Throat-esque insider (maybe we should call him Deep Bicycle-Shed in honour of their initial point of contaact).

This leads towards a particularly ill-timed article casting doubt on Energreen’s stability, ill-timed from their point of view that is, as the Flotation’s about to go wide. Our Amoral Compass, Claudia (whose morality starts to swing a bit in the breeze, as disloyal thoughts seep into her head about how maybe, just maybe, there are mildly fishy aspects to all this) shuts down the newspaper article aspect with a legitimate legal argument backed by a heavy dose of we-can-sue-your-arse-back-to-kindergarten threatening. But she can’t shut Mia herself down from publishing the article on her blog.

So, in a development easily foreseeable from about five minutes in, Sonder has the soft-spoken P mow Mia down with a car for the cliffhanger. Except that it’s right in front of Claudia. And her little boy, Bertram.

We’ll have more of that later, but we should also record, since it’s going to be massively relevant, that our lady lawyer bumps into an old boyfriend, Tobias, who’s now representing a would-be investor in Energreen. And takes him home and shags him, baring a bit more than we usually see from the leading lady in a SkandiDrama (and a very pleasant sight too).

I’m not just being prurient. The SkandiCrimes do tend to throw in a pair or two of bare breasts, in a naturalistic manner, in their series, but it’s usually some minor character: we don’t get to see Sofie Grabol, Sofia Helin or Sidse Babbet Knudsen being so free with their bosoms, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see Natalie Madueno throwing off her… dignity like that.

As for Mess, thanks to the lead supplied by Mia, he and Chinese Alf spent half the episode in Poland, trying to investigate the factory where Energreen are researching superconductivity. But the source Mia identifies is a lie, the hustling, bustling factory is well guarded, and when Mess enterprisingly nicks a security badge in a bar, the said factory is stripped to the bone overnight and moved to India, which is ever so slightly improbable.

But it gives Mess time to think about Kristina’s revelation last week. He’s angry (of course he is, he’s a maverick) and there’s a part of him that cannot resist throwing up the fact that he has loyally looked after his seriously ill wife, taken on that burden faithfully and uncomplainingly, and his reward is for her to go off and shag her doctor. But, in the closest thing to a genuinely touching scene so far (had the series managed to convince me its people were important, this would have been a killer), Mess tells Kristina that despite his hurt and anger, he loves her, and what they have built is too important to damage by such anger, so he will forego it, put it away, and forgive her.

His reward is for Kristina to seek a separation.

I’ve put it off long enough, it can’t be ignored: what of Nicky and the Bozo? Quickly: father-in-law Jan gloms onto a third of the cash in exchange for cooking up a money-laundering scheme via a garage ‘bought’ by Nicky, which will massively increase their profit… over ten years. Meanwhile, the boys get 22,500 kroner a month.

Given their collective ignorance, they’ve no alternative but to take it. But Nicky still has the incriminatory iPad which, with the aid of Eric, the vaping crooked accountant wheeled in by Jan, he plans to blackmail Sander Sodergren for 10,000,000 over its return.

That deals with episode 5. Moving on, we quickly learn that Mia is alive, though in a coma, so don’t expect much more of Charlotte Munck for the rest of the series, regrettably (an unconventional looking woman, but pretty damned gorgeous, I thought). Chinese Alf is catching on to Maverick Mess’s ways: instead of revealing her connection to the fraud investigation, which would mean the everyday cops confiscating her assets, Alf confiscates her phone and house keys so that he and Mess can nick everything and study it for her source.

Who turns out to be a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Voice’.

As for Mess’s personal mess (I am so going to keep using that line), he’s having the kids over to stay at Alf’s, whilst he slips out to obsessively watch the former matrimonial pad for the doctor paying a house call. It actually turns out that Doc and Kristina haven’t actually shagged yet, but Mess is resolutely unimpressed by this revelation (why shouldn’t he be? It makes a nonsense of everything she’s told him about the man she wants to leave him for) and decides he’ll get the paperwork started.

Back at Nicky and the Bozo, the smarter half of the pair (the distinction is rapidly diminishing, week by week) makes the crudest of approaches to Sander with his blackmail bid. Sander immediately sets the soft-spoken P onto it, leading to a meet with Nicky, supported by Eric – who has now gone back to ciggies again, a neat and unobtrusive detail – in which P’s usual efficiency lets him down. He fails to kill either one, though he does wound Eric. This is not a good development for Energreen.

Especially when they spend most of the episode criss-crossing Europe whoring to investors. It’s a five man/person team: the salesman, Sander, Claudia, Ulrik Skov, and Ulrik’s new right hand man, Jens Kristian, who’s rising in the world just like Claudia.

Who’s not at her best. She’s still in shock from seeing Mia mown down and, what’s worse, she can’t stop thinking of the coincidence in timing between trying to shut Mia up over her Energreen-knocking article and a vicious hit and run. Claudia is putting two and two together in her head and, no matter how hard she tries, she can’t get them to add up to anything but four.

Then she goes and drops an almighty bollock in London, by forgetting to bring vital documents to the meeting with the biggest, most secure and prestigious investor of all, causing Energreen’s bid to be thrown out unheard. It’s a career-destroying, sack on the spot, financially disastrous blunder, as a result of which Ulrik starts throwing up all over the place.

You see, it can now be openly admitted (to the audience at least) that Ulrik has indeed been cooking the books, to the point where they are now burnt to a frazzle and, without outside investors, they’re all doomed. Sander slaps his face, tells him to snap out of it. Meanwhile, Claudia confesses her fears to both Jens Kristian (who pooh-poohs it) and Sander (who acts all terribly hurt that she could even think it).

Remember Tobias? He’s flown into Rome to intercept the Energreen tour, or at least Claudia’s sex-hungry bit of it. Oh, and as a would-be investor, tell me, strictly in confidence, should I pull out now or plunge deeper in (deliberately crude double entendre)? Claudia’s morality is flying free now, so she lies through her teeth to Tobias about a superconductivity breakthrough that will replace sliced bread as the world’s standard measure of bestness.

It buoys her up so much (or was it just the sex?) that Claudia sells the show to the French all on her own (no, Sander didn’t fire her for practically dropping his company down the toilet: the man has an agenda) which ups her credibility again before the news comes in that Tobias’s company have trebled their investment. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! And Claudia has a little gift of 10,000 shares that, tomorrow, will be worth 10,000,000.

She also has a traumatised small boy sleeping on a couch in her office because he’s fretting with fear at his mummy being knocked down by a car. Meanwhile, Sander is berating P for his egregious cock-up. And little Bertram happens to see P in passing, whereupon he identifies the man to his mother as the driver of the car that knocked over that lady…

But this, predictable as it is, is not our cliffhanger. That comes from Mess and Alf tracking down The Voice and setting up a meeting in the ‘usual place’ by posing as Mia on e-mail. They turn up, he doesn’t. He’s not stupid, he knows she’s in a coma, he tells them when he rings in. He’s going to disappear, but Mess offers protection and convinces him to come in and help bring Energreen down. In a shock, entirely unexpected revelation that I’d correctly predicted a couple of minutes earlier, The Voice turned out to be Jens Kristian…

Which simply reinforces my point. I’m a smartarse, I freely admit it. I read widely, watch TV and films. Not a lot takes me in, I can see things coming. Which is why I love the ones where I can’t, where I can’t read where it’s going, either in the web of the story or in the warp of the author’s thinking. That Mia was going to be taken out was obvious from way, way ahead, it was only a matter of time. That it had to be Jens was equally clear from his suddenly having been introduced in a prominent role only in that episode. Follow the Money is ok, but it isn’t surprising anyone. Claudia’s going to settle for being good, instead of rich, and turn Queen’s Evidence on Sander and the rest. P’s going to kidnap Bertram, and the show hasn’t got the creative steel to kill the boy, who will be rescued by Mess, who’ll end up getting back together with Kristina and trying again.

Expect to hear from me again on this subject next Sunday.

Saturday SkandiCrime: Follow the Money parts 3 & 4


Mads, by name and nature

Another Sunday session for Saturday night crime.

My main excuse this week is that the England game was too interesting to switch off, but I have to allow for the fact that nothing in Follow the Money‘s first two parts gripped me in anything like the way that the best Scandinavian drama series have done in recent years. Nor, sadly, was there much in the next set of instalments to increase my enthusiasm.

At least I am not going to the stupid extent of the Guardian TV reviewer who, last week, also found Follow the Money uninvolving, but who extrapolated from that that the whole Scandinavian TV boom was therefore over, and henceforth no other Danish/Swedish/Norwegian/Icelandic programme should ever be broadcast on British TV again. Some people are just plain pathetic.

But I’ll say what I said last week, because it’s by far and away the principal factor: this is a story that fails to involve. It’s an entirely too orthodox police procedural, supplemented by soap opera elements that, by failing to sufficiently individualize the characters, fail to affect.

Take our hero, Mads (which, incidentally is pronounced ‘Mess’, which is hardly surprising). We’ve already seen that he doesn’t do patience, which is unfortunate because he’s (as of episode 4 officially) seconded to the Fraud Squad, whose police work consists entirely of patience. Mess is a bull with the urge to find a china shop: his policing consists of getting suspects into a room, quizzing them without the slightest iota of evidence and pronouncing them guilty based on the fact that they do things that ordinary people do when confronted by a mad copper, they calll for their lawyer.

Alright, we get it, he’s a maverick, that’s what mavericks do, but that’s my point entirely, the great joy of the SkandiCrime series is that they have different angles upon such things, they are not Anglo stereotypes, and Mess is a stereotype.

Which is why, when the viewer learns in episode 3, and Mess the following episode, that his sclerosis-crippled wife Kristina is having an affair (I thought she was too affected by her recent bad bout to surrender to her libido), I found it impossible to share in his evident misery.

Which, by the way, he directs at a very unimaginative revenge, keying his ‘rival”s flash car, instead of immediately reporting him to the Danish equivalent of the BMC (shagging your patients, Doctor David? Tsk, tsk, we’re going to have to give you a no about that).

Let’s back away from Mess for a moment and consider out Anti-Hero, Claudia, who’s rapidly getting deeper and deeper into Energreen’s, and Sander  Sodergren’s, little deceptions. In episode 3, she flies out to Abu Dhabi where Sander is banking all on getting Arab backing for a highly experimental superconductor that Hanne, its Chief Scientist, knows is fraught with difficulties. Hanne’s use of the word No (which, disappointingly, is Danish for No) sees her career end on the spot. The very next day, a more, shall we call it optimistic?, scientists pitches a trouble-free pitch, with the aid of what looked like a square of albino battenburg hovering on a cloud of dry ice and circling a table ad infinitum.

That it’s a flagrant con is established from the casual way in  which the compliant scientist dropped in the fact that Energreen had invented perpetual motion without going, say, HEY, LOOK YOU GUYS, WE’VE INVENTED PERPETUAL FUCKING MOTION!!!!!

Claudia looks perturbed at Hanne’s treatment but barely blinks and simply moves onto the next right royal shafting, in episode 4, when she takes the little son she patently adores and misses so much to Jutland on a day out, so he can watch her down-size a former family company preparatory to selling it off. That goes down like a brick pigeon with the CEO and former owner, but that’s nothing as to when Claudia gets told there’s been a change of plans and, thanks to some financial smartarsery from Energreen’s Chief Financial Officer, Ulrik Skov, the company has to be shut down, five minutes ago, no back answers.

So our dear Claudia has to go round handing out redundancy notices to all 300 employees (after the ex-owner signs a ‘loadsamoney for you personally, shut-yer-gob’ agreement drafted by her own fair hand), but the only one we see is middle-aged secretary Gerthe, who has been keeping little Bertram amused. It’s a cheap attempt to tug at the heart-strings that might have worked in a better series, but is merely nasty here. So when it turns into a cue for Bertram to say he doesn’t like Mummy’s job and wants to go back to Daddy now, it’s meaningless.

These are all business dealings that could be easily enough justified by businessmen as financially necessary, but I suspect that, somewhere round about twenty minutes into episode 9, Claudia will find herself handling a trick too shitty for ever her to process and will start coughing to Mess and Alf. When she does, I shall think back to episodes like this and be profoundly unconveniced.

One more thing about Claudia before we turn to our third pillar, car thief Nicky and the idiot Bimse, but the story did surprise me for the first and so far only time near the end of episode 3. Sander and Claudia are staying in opposite rooms in a big Abu Dhabi hotel, he’s pestering her for dinner, he takes her back to her room, bursting with testosterone, but Claudia is expecting the pass and not showing any signs of encouragement. That is, until he knocks on her door again to bring a toy car present for young Bertram, which leads her to snog his face off – until he stops her abruptly. This is wrong, he has great things planned for her, this will spoil things. Cliche-busting alert! Though the whole thing spoke to me of very dispassionate manipulation.

So, Nicky and the Boxo. Yeah, it’s all starting to go to custard for that pair, thanks to the Bozo being, well, a Bozo. They’ve got the money, nobody on the investigation side knows about them, and Nicky’s father-in-law cools the trail when Nicky is bozo enough to use the stolen iPad for pictures of his chocolate-faced child. But I’ll bet the iPad hasn’t been dumped: after all, it needs to turn up somewhere about episode 8 to incriminate Sander.

I’m sorry, no, I refuse to waste more time than is necessary on this strand of the plot, until it links more firmly with the A story. Which is financial hi-jinks, centring around Sander and the aforementioned Ulrik Skov, the outline of which was put together by Chinese Dane Alf, with the improbable assistance of Mess. It made for interesting but hardly visceral stuff. Let’s see if more can be built upon it next week.

The problem is that there is the makings of a decent, and potentially gripping story about high finance and big business in this series that is being consistently blurred by the antics of the three principals, Mess, Claudia and Nicky, who are acting in a completely different story (or two different stories if you look at Nicky.) The two styles are running counter to one another without setting up any kind of insightful counterpoint, or even a fruitful resonance.

It’s not the end of SkandiCrime As We Know It, but it falls short of the standards we are used to, and reports suggest there’s nothing coming down the line to redeem it. At least it’s not snark-worthy, like you-know-what.

Saturday SkandiCrime: Follow the Money parts 1 & 2


Coming to you incredibly late for me, what with yesterday’s day out and the Manchester Derby this afternoon. And perhaps it’s because I’ve watched it mid-Sunday evening and not late Saturday night, but so far I’ve found little to impress or enthuse me about Denmark’s latest offering.

And there is a seriously dubious title sequence showing the four main characters going about their business with water welling up from everything until they’re trying to function normally in rooms full to the ceiling with water. It’s clearly symbolic but at this point there isn’t a clue what it’s symboliic of.

Follow the Money is a very dull title (the Danish title, Bedrag, sounds far better, and it literally means ‘Deception’), and the fact that the central mystery appears to revolve around some as-yet-undisclosed dodgy financial dealings involving one of Denmark’s most successful companies, Energreen, seemed to confirm a certain lack of imagination in the first instance. There was, however, a glimmer of interest by the end of episode 2 when this over-literal title took on an even more literal meaning, as a well-contrived blunder put two seemingly minor characters – one of them the biggest numbskull in the show – in possession of 2,000,000 Euros in brick-thick bundles. Someone, and probably more than one party, is going to be following that money around.

The opening opted for the piecemeal approach, giving us three disparate strands, each with its own central character, before wrapping them into one interwoven package with a briskness unusual for Scandinavian Crime.

Firstly, we have Mads, our forty-something maverick detective. Mads is called out to a dead body, recovered from the water, which turns out to be a Ukrainian worker from the nearby offshore wind farm owned by Energreen. Lacking any immediate means to getting over to us that the quiet, ordinary-looking Mads is a maverick, the writer opted for the unusual and somewhat risible method of having him strip off and dive into the undoubtedly freezing water to retrieve a safety jacket, rather than wait five minutes for a boat.

This had the story value of establishing for us that Mads doesn’t do patience very well, which would become a salient feature of part 2.

Mikhayil’s death turned out to be an accident caused by deliberate breach of Health and Safety regulations by Energreen, not for the first time. Mads tries to exhort the Ukrainians to file a complaint but all that achieves is to get the lot of them fired, and Mikhayil’s distraught father, Alexander, to hang himself in his storage container hut bedroom. That made it personal for Mads, at which point I got a chilling echo of the utterly inept Salamander, glimmers of which kept reflecting off him for the rest of both episode.

I’m sorry to harp on about Mads, but he is our star but we also have to reflect upon his home life, which is two children – one boy, young, one girl, youngish, shades of Borgen – and a wife suffering from sclerosis attacks. Mads is doing everything he can, and the tears he cries when she unexpectedly recovers from her current, bad attack, are a touching testament to his love for her, though I can’t help but wonder that, her first words when introduced in bad shape being that she dreamed of having sex, once she recovered – and she really is an attractive woman – there wasn’t the slightest hint of him even thinking of sex: this might be implanting something extremely subtle to be realised later, and I have some insight into situations like this, but that would be to give the series credit it’s far from earning yet.

Let’s leave him for a while and transfer our attention to lead 2, one Claudio Moreno, of Energreen’s legal department: thirtyish, divorced, young son who lives with his father Steen (also a lawyer). Claudia’s just uncovered a contract clause that will save Energreen 20,000,000 euros a year, but it’s head lawyer Mogens who’s going to take the credit for this.

But Mogens enlists Claudia to hunt out an insider who’s insider trading, and he hints that the corruption goes as high as CEO, founder and all-round hotshot Sander Sodergren, so she’s got to keep it extremely quiet, from everyone. It all involves some company called East Manchester Invest  (which, sadly, proves to be registered in Copenhagen rather than Openshaw) but Claudia, who is ambitious, decides Mogens is trying to frame Sander and takes it all to the big Boss. Who promptly, a), fires Mogens, b), appoints Claudia as his new Head Lawyer and, c), admits to her that he did, in fact, after all, as it happens, authorise his best trader, Peter Sondergaard to go off insider trading, providing the then financially-strapped Energreen got its share of the profits. Oi!

And then there’s Nicky, a car mechanic and ex-car thief, married with a small, one year old baby, and living in a high-rise flat. From which he and his wife want to escape but they haven’t got the money for it. So, despite his initial, and eminently sensible refusal to join blatant moron Bimse in car-thieving for quick profit, Nicky decides to supplement his income the old-fashioned way. After all, there’s this rude, arrogant jerk called Peter Sondergaard who’s running a BMW that the Serbs can sell on…

So now let’s stir the mix. Maverick Mads can’t get anywhere with trying to bring Energreen down over these deaths (remember, it’s personal). His by-the-book boss Preben shuts the case, like all the others. Fortunately, Detective Alf (yes, Alf, a Danish cop, of Chinese extraction, called Alf, do you want to make something of that? There is also an Albert in this series, move along) offers him a chance to tag along with the Fraud Squad to get some satisfaction.

Of course, Fraud Squad cases last sometimes for years, and Mads, as we already know, doesn’t do patience, so when they can’t get a wiretap of East Manchester Invest due to minor details like having no evidence whatsoever, Mads cons a fellow cop into adding it to the warrant for a completely different case (it is, it’s bloody Philip Gerrardi all over again).

Claudia meanwhile recommends Peter Sondergaard and his colleague are separated from Energreen tooty-de-sweet, before the Police investigation finds them. It seems a simple job, a silent severance, that sort of thing, no publicity, and even a fun one when Peter starts treating Claudia as the secretary, but it transpires that Peter has something on Sander, not financial, but personal, and something that has him immediately willing to hand over 4,000,000 euros, cash, to buy them off.

(He has an associate, named only P, who handles the transactions, and who appears to have hidden, shall we call them, talents? I mention him because this time, unlike Captain Carlssen in Trapped, I recognised him immediately: Claus Ljungmark, aka Norlander in the first five Arne Dahl movies).

Which brings us back to Nicky and the idiot Bimse, who’s going to get someone killed, preferably himself. P hands over two hold-alls, each containing 2,000,000 Euros to Peter and the other one (Mark?). Peter drives home, does the Patrick McGoohan in the opening credits of The Prisoner bit and re-emerges to find his Beamer gone. With the cash, and the iPad containing the incriminating evidence against Sander. Which are in the hands of Nicky and the Bozo.

I shall, of course, continue to watch and blog the whole series, but after two episodes it has not filled me with confidence. The strength of the various Scandinavian crime series, apart from the fascination of seeing a familiar subject through the eyes of a different culture, has been in how it has immersed itself in the impact that murder has, on victims, families, the Police themselves. It has relied heavily upon the characters of the Police involved, from the eccentric yet fascinating Saga Noren of The Bridge to the utterly down-to-earth Hinrika in Trapped.

But we have none of that here. The deaths we have had to date are of importance only to the detective, who is not, as yet, distinguishable in any way from a generic ‘maverick cop’. Nicky loses points for being involved with Bimse the Bozo, someone that a three-month old baby would avoid for utter unreliability, whilst Claudia, who already only sees her little boy four days a fortnight, puts up the feeblest of resistances to her ex-husband Steen taking him to live in Paris for two years.

The only character who genuinely interests me so far is Mads’ wife, Kristina, and that may be due to personal things on my part.

Follow the Money has four more weeks in which to prove me wrong, but on the evidence of two episodes, it’s biggest problem is that it’s just so damned ordinary. And we don’t go in for ordinary in the Saturday SkandiCrime slot.