Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Bridge Blends Two Cultures

The Bridge
FX Network 
Wednesday Nights 10 PM
With Diane Kruger,  Demián Bichir,  Annabeth Gish 
Thomas M. Wright, Ted Levine
Developed by Meredith Stiehm, Elwood Reid
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

A dead body is found laying on the line marking the Mexico-USA Border on The Bridge of the Americas that crosses the Rio Grande River between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.

The lower half of the body is on the United States side while the upper half of the body is on the Mexico side.

Two detectives, one from Mexico and one from the US show up at the crime scene.  Who will get custody of the body?  Since the face is identified as a US Judge and as the Detective from Mexico says "we have too many dead bodies now, anyway", the body goes with the US Detective back to America.

That is until the body gets back to the morgue and it comes to light that the lower half of the body belongs to a Dark Skin woman and the top half is the White Judge.

And thus begins possibly the best, if not the most interesting, of the new crime dramas you will see this summer on Episodic Television.

Based on the Danish/Swedish TV series of the same name, The Bridge follows two police detectives – one Mexican, one American – and their joint effort to investigate a serial killer menacing both nations along the Texas–Juarez border.

Their investigation is complicated by corruption and apathy among the Mexican authorities and the violence of the powerful drug cartels.

Given the Genesis of the Show which was from the cold climes of Denmark and Sweden and the fact that Developer Elwood Reid is from Cleveland (closer to the Canadian-American border), it's amazing this adaptation takes place where it does to begin with.  But it was definitely a stroke of genius.

The Bridge has a great mix of elements that you'll notice from other crime dramas.  The characters are quirky enough to come out of David Lynch's Twin Peaks.  The crime scene investigating lends itself from some of the best episodes of CSI while the subject matter is fresh out of today's headlines. The difference being that this show comes with more of an edge than the aforementioned series.

Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds, The Piano Player) delivers a breakout performance as the lead American Detective Sonya Cross who has Asperger Syndrome.

Ted Levine (Monk) stretches his acting chops here playing a jaded captain and Cross's Supervisor in El Paso.

Also great performances from popular Mexican actor Demian Bichir (Weeds)  as the Lead Detective from Juarez and Annabeth Gish (X-Files, West Wing).

The show locations bounce back and forth from Mexico to the United States.  The characters in the Mexico scenes speak in Spanish with English Subtitles.  The Creators of the Show even split Directing duties between Mexican and American Directors.

For instance Mexican Director Gerardo Naranja (Miss Bala) directed the first episode while starting with the third episode an American Director Charlotte Seiling takes the reigns.  The effect is a wonderful blend of cultures.

The cinematography of the series adds to a dark, rich, and steamy feel to it.  The series is actually shot in and around El Paso and Juarez along with Los Angeles which lends to the authenticity of the show.

The only possible drawback of the show is that it will be following one crime investigation for the entire season.  Shows like Dexter pull it off well. But as witnessed with The Following this season, it is challenging to maintain the momentum of the first few shows of the season for the entire duration.

I am betting that the former example will be the case here.  I will definitely be back to see how this first season plays out through the Summer.

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