Anno 1790, a 10 part Swedish detective drama set in the late eighteenth century, promises much, entertains a lot but doesn’t quite deliver enough for it to be surprising that the ‘Series 1’ presumptively announced on the DVD box didn’t lead to a Series 2.
The setting, both in century and country, is a wonderfully refreshing change from the standard late 20th century and early 21st century North American choice for so many detective dramas. The series and entertainingly mixes up crime, politics and personal drama as the central character, Daadh, turns from being a naval surgeon to a police commissioner.
Yet for all the expensive sets and high quality acting, the series doesn’t quite make the most of what it has going for it. The backdrop of the French revolution is touched on, the idea of a surgeon bringing new scientific rigour to crime fighting is played with and the Swedish setting is at the forefront – yet none of these are fully exploited, with rather a lot of crime cliches making their way into the series.
It’s not only the individual crimes (which I won’t say too much about in order to avoid spoilers, but many of the basic plots could be from any one of dozens of TV detective series) but also the cliches of a hero who is in love with someone he shouldn’t be, an incompetent figure of authority always suspecting the wrong person of the crime and so on. Moreover, the promising set of characters with some complex interrelationships don’t develop much through the series.
The 10 episodes, each nearly an hour long, were all enjoyable enough. Enjoyable enough for it to be a little frustrating that they weren’t that little bit better. Even so, Anno 1790 is refreshingly different and better than most detective series you’ll find.
If you like this, you might also be interested in Bird of Prey.
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