Screenplay: Elsebeth Egholm, Dorthe Warnø Høgh, Ida Maria Rydén
Starring: John Astin, George Clooney, Anthony Starke, Karen M. Waldro
Producer: Jonas Allen, Peter Bose, Christian Potalivo
BBFC Certificate: 15
‘Dicte – Crime Reporter’ is a Danish crime series following Dicte Svendsen. Dicte has returned to her hometown of Aarhus, part in-search of her long lost son. She had a child at the age of 16 that she was forced to put the baby up for adoption in secret by her Jehovah’s Witness parents. Back in the present, Dicte is recently divorced living with her teenage daughter, and making a living as a reasonably successful crime journalist and full-time busy-body. The show takes a similar format to many well-loved crime series, with the story shifting case to case. I actually much prefer a series to focus on an individual case (see ‘The Killing’) because it seems to give it a lot more depth and allow for a much meatier plot. I will say that Dicte – Crime Reporter gave each case a near feature-length screen time, spanning two episodes rather than one. However a lot of time was given to the regular protagonists – Dicte, her two best friends, Bo – a photographer she works with, and Wagner – the actual police officer. I would have liked to have seen a larger focus on really bringing out depth in the crime cases.
The tone of Dicte – Crime Reporter was a little strange to me, by focussing on protagonist relationships, the series started to build a kind of soapy feel. This made a lot of the episodes very watchable, and if you enjoy that kind of relationships focussed television, then this is a really great series for you. Personally, I think I was expecting something a little grittier, which is where I come to the tone issue. I picked up this review screener because it’s synopsis suggests a dark, twisty, gritty plot. If you look at the cases on paper, that’s what it is – the first maybe 4 or 5 episodes carry a recurring theme and it’s not a cheerful one (it’s dead children). But the focus on the protagonists and friendships really heavily juxtaposes this. Perhaps it’s supposed to lighten the mood, but to me it just removed the seriousness of what should have been a very serious thing. To me, the series was trying to achieve too many things and needed to focus on one or the other.
I need to just come out of serious-reviewing for a moment to discuss the title sequence. I’m a great lover of the title-sequence, I revel in the joys of the opening to Mad Men, I sing along at the start of every episode of The Wire and Orange is the New Black and I can even let slide the fact that Netflix needs to waste 5 minutes on monotonous title credits for every other series it produces (House of Cards I’m looking at you). Dicte – Crime Reporter opens with one of the worst title sequences I have ever seen. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, it’s not horribly made, but it’s so ill fitting. It’s a cheerful soundtrack that might as well be from the opening to Gogglebox, and it’s played alongside the happiest, soapiest shots of the series – Dicte smiling at her friends, Bo taking off his shirt, etc etc. So it looks like you’re about to tune in to Danish Hollyoaks. This is met with an awkward smashed-glass effect that I assume is supposed to convey the tension and distress within the series – the happy lives cracking apart. I see the metaphor. Unfortunately, it really couldn’t be less cheese-tastic here, which is a shame because like many crime series, each episode opens with a tense set-up scene to draw you in before playing the opening titles. Which then go on to completely unravel the tension and ruin any intrigue that scene had built up. You may be able to tell that I found this infuriating, but it also seemed to exaggerate and illustrate the problems I have with the yo-yoing tone of the series. I just didn’t get what Dicte – Crime Reporter was trying to be.
I realise I have been quite critical here, but I did really enjoy the series (though it may not seem like it). It can’t hold a candle up to many of the other series I have mentioned in this review (sans Hollyoaks, it’s far better than Hollyoaks don’t worry). But that doesn’t make it bad. Yes, Dicte – Crime Reporter is very soapy, and I did want to roll my eyes on multiple occasions – *SPOILER ALERT* Wagner falls for Dicte’s friend, Dicte falls for Bo even though he’s married, Dicte’s other best friend starts sleeping with her ex husband and can they ever be friends again – of course they can, and they all come together for a nice meal at the end. *SPOILERS OVER* – but it’s those soapy moments that make it very watchable. Sometimes – and never tell anyone I said this – but sometimes it’s nice to have a break from the gruelling moody thrillers I usually fill my time with, and to watch something that genuinely designed to entertain me, rather than give me terrible nightmares.
Dicte – Crime Reporter is out on DVD 11th July 2016.