The “linear” television as well as Streaming services and data carriers combined make the range of series almost unmanageable. But often important classics or relatively young productions (so far) have not found their way onto the largest Streaming platforms or onto television. This is even more annoying in times when Studios are increasingly playing it safe. Disney will milk the “Star Wars” cow until it falls with its in-house Streaming service. Even classics such as “Magnum P. I.” or “MacGyver” make irrelevant Remakes. Moreover, long-forgotten Sitcoms like “Roseanne”, “Will & Grace” or “crazy about you” are revived, because you bet on the recognition value. This makes it all the more important to pay more attention to those series jewels that do not rely on the Recycling of known success parameters, but still have the courage to do something.
Edge of Darkness
The New Zealand director Martin Campbell can attach several awards to his lapel. Not only did he help James Bond to make a comeback twice: he shot both the first Pierce Brosnan Bond “Goldeneye”, as well as Daniel Craig’s debut as 007 with “Casino Royale”. ten years before his first Bond, he directed a series barbecue, which is still regarded by many as the best miniseries of British television.
“Edge of Darkness” is a dark, tremendously atmospheric Thriller from the Margaret Thatcher Britain of the 1980s, which gives this period an unmistakably cinematic treatment. Policeman Ronald Craven (outstanding: Bob Peck) is on his way home with his left-wing activist daughter Emma (Joanne Whalley) when they are both surprised by an attacker who shoots Emma. The police assume that the bullets were meant for their colleague, but Craven finds radioactively contaminated items in his daughter’s estate. He begins to investigate on his own. The trail leads him to nuclear companies, US intelligence agencies, left-wing Milieus and trade union officials, and supernatural forces.
On German television, the miniseries ran under the title “Am Rande der Finsternis”(“on the edge of darkness”) only four years after the British premiere. In 2010, Campbell directed an American film version starring Mel Gibson. But one should urgently resort to the Original, because despite 35 years it has lost nothing of the almost hypnotic spell into which the story draws the viewers. Not only stylistically, the series has aged remarkably well, but its view of environmental policy aspects, bureaucratic power apparatuses and cover-ups, but also of a youth who emancipates himself from his parents, are unbroken up-to-date. Leftists in particular will also smile when protagonist Craven meets activists who are hardly alienated from the SWP or “Militant”.
The miniseries consisting of six episodes is available on DVD.
The French actor Kad Merad might also seem familiar to some in Germany. In 2008, he played the main role in “Welcome to the Sch’tis”, the first Film in France, surpassing the 40-year-old attendance record of the Louis de Funès Comedy “Three fraction pilots”. This record was not achieved in France even by “Pretty best friends”. Accordingly, expectations were high when a political series with Merad in the lead role was announced.
Merad was more than able to fulfill these expectations as the titular political puppet master. He shines in the role of the downright obsessed Philippe Rickwaerts, mayor and member of Parliament (such accumulation of offices is not uncommon in France) of the northern French city of Dunkirk. His friend, socialist (PS) presidential candidate Francis Laugier, who is on the winning track, drops him after a financial scandal, whereupon Rickwaert swears revenge. The constellation is the starting point for an often breathtaking interplay of moves, with which the protagonists struggle for control and prestige in their party and its environment.
What is fascinating about the figure of Rickwaert is that, unlike the inevitably imposing figure of Frank Underwood from the American “House of Cards”, he is not an unscrupulous, cold power politician, but sees himself decidedly as a party leftist. So there are fantastic exchanges of blows when Rickwaerts accuses the PS general secretary of despising the working class, or when he gives a class-struggle agitation speech in the National Assembly dressed in a blue-collar, in order to give a political tailwind to a movement of socially disadvantaged young people. In terms of content and craftsmanship, the series leaves little to be desired: not only is the production ready for the cinema, but the series also proves to be a clear direct hit in its reference to real political figures and events. In the second season – without revealing too much – much of what was to become a reality in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2017, which took place at the same time as the shooting, with the rise of Macron and the suppression of the hitherto known party system. This series speaks to the fact that you can hardly stop feigning with Rickwaerts, even if you reject his methods – yes, even if you actually reject his goals.
“Baron Noir” has so far 16 episodes in two seasons and is available on DVD, the payment channel Sony Channel and Amazon Prime.
The Good Fight
At the beginning of the series “The Good Fight”, the well-deserved lawyer Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) sits in shock in front of her TV and follows US President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech live. As an opening this is well chosen, because one could aptly describe “the Good Fight” in one sentence with “the series to survive Donald Trump without going crazy”. “The Good Fight “is the sequel and Spin-off of” the Good Wife”, but can also be seen without the forerunner. The situation changes radically: Diane cannot retire after all her savings have been fraudulently destroyed by Bernard Madoff Revenant Henry Rindell. She is hired by the law firm Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, which until then was entirely African-American. Together with the two young lawyers Maia Rindell – of all people the daughter of the man who lost her savings – and Lucca Quinn Lockhart forms the Trio of main characters around which a wreath of edgy and charismatic supporting characters lines up, above all the magnificent Delroy Lindo as Adrian Boseman. From this Setting, all the shallows of the US under Trump are explored – police violence, racism, political intrigue, espionage, surveillance. A series where you never know what to expect, and that’s why you’re looking forward to the next episode.
The first two seasons of “the Good Fight”, each with 10 and 13 episodes, are available on DVD, on the payment channel Fox and on Amazon Prime.
Line of Duty
Jed Mercurio’s mini-series “Bodyguard” was the street sweeper on British television in 2018. This is not the only reason why it is worth taking a look at his creation “Line of Duty”, which has been running since 2012. At the centre of the BBC series is the Anti-Corruption Unit of the London police AC-12. Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) is transferred there after he refuses to participate in the cover-up of an illegal shooting by his unit. Under his new boss Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), he and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) are charged with criminal mischief and abuse of office in the force. While Arnott is the “official” face, while Fleming is often undercover. Soon after getting started, it becomes apparent that there are not only organised crime networks whose contacts extend to high levels of the British police. Even in Hastings own troop hides a mole, through which the colleagues of AC-12 sometimes get into deadly danger.
You have to forgive some not exactly plausible “Plot Twist”, but then “Line of Duty” is certainly one of the most exciting series of the past years. In a pleasant deviation from the crime-mongering, the “repressive state apparatuses” themselves are targeted here.
So far, “Line of Duty” has 29 episodes in five seasons, all of which are available on DVD or at the 13th Street Station.