The international success of Danish thriller The Killing, and its subsequent American remake, opened many people's eyes to the quality of Scandinavian drama. The first series of political thriller Borgen was, consequently, one of the first to capitalise on it.
It comes from the producers of The Killing, as it happens, but the similarities between it and Borgen aren't that plentiful. Rather than crime, Borgen focuses on the Danish Parliament, and the people within it. Of particular interest is the country's first female Prime Minister, Birgitte Nyborg Christensen, who comes to power off the back of a heavy victory. As she soon discovers, though, the pressures of government are very different. This densely plotted, twisty, compelling drama takes time and diligence in exploring this, and soon becomes extremely absorbing.
Laced with the same intelligence, depth and commitment of The Killing, Borgen richly rewards those willing to look further afield for their television drama. Those going in expecting the same thing they've been served up before, though, might just be disappointed, not least because the subject matter is different.
But the quibbles aimed in the direction of Borgen are mild at best. For ultimately, the ten episodes of this first series, which are willing to explore both the politics and families within Danish government, are gripping, compulsive television drama. From start to finish, it's a terrific series, and long may it continue. --Jon Foster