The Killing, the original Danish version and not the US remake, became a ratings hit for the BBC two years ago. British TV made European crime drama popular and started a shapeless knitted jersey fashion trend. Little did they know that European crime drama had been making a killing in Australia for a number of years.
Starting with the Danish onslaught of Unit One (Danish: Rejseholdet) and The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey (Danish: Ørnen: En krimi-odyssé) in the mid 2000s, the Australian TV channel, SBS, realised that by fulfilling its founding belief of that all Australians, regardless of geography, age, cultural background or language skills should have access to high quality, independent, culturally-relevant Australian media*, it was also getting a following for European flavoured crime. And then came The Killing, a whole year before the UK. We were glued to our TV sets week after week, stumbling across fellow viewers at dinner parties or at work. It was a throwback to the pre-internet 1990s. As it was not yet known in the US or the UK, the English-language based entertainment industry was not talking about it, and English speaking fans were in the minority. We went back to the original water cooler and the only spoilers were the previews for the next episode each week. It was fantastic.
Since then we have had The Protectors (Danish: Livvagterne) about the police bodyguard squad (PET) and most recently The Bridge (Swedish/Danish: Bron/Broen), a Danish and Swedish co-production about a murder investigation resulting from a body found on the Oresund Bridge connecting the two countries. FX in the US have already ordered a pilot for a US remake taking place on the border between the US and Mexico. It looks like the remake factory hasn't learnt their lesson from The Killing experience. Getting a glimpse into Danish culture is half the fun of these series. The popularity of The Killing in the UK led to the BBC trusting the taste of its audience and importing two French crime dramas, Spiral (French: Engrenages) and Barquo (French: Barquo).
All three series of Spiral have shown on SBS, and we wait with bated breath to find out what happens next. For some of the best commentary on The Killing, Spiral, The Bridge, and Danish political drama Borgen, go to The Guardian online. There you can find a community of viewers who know their Sofie Gråbøl from their Sofia Helin, and help you with the light fittings envy that wells up inside you once you have watched more than one European crime dramas. No one does household furnishings like the Northern Europeans.
*SBS.com/About Us/Our Story