Unit One/ Resjeholdt Series Three and Series One-My Review. Minor spoilers only. In Danish with English subtitles. On DVD.

Unit One/ Resjeholdt

Nb.  The Review is of Series three followed by Series One at the bottom of the page.
(this is just the order in which I found the DVD’s)

A Review of series Three
Episodes  1-8

Episode one of this series is Episode 17 of the whole series.

“Request For Assistance”

So I have seen just a few episodes so far of Resjeholdt. In series three only.
Not quite sure if I am hooked or not.  I have certainly grown minorly fond of the unusual yet familiar theme music.  Familiar possibly because I came across a video entitled Unit One/ Resjeholdt which had the music.  When I was searching for Unit One.

Also the music sounds like music on an old series theme tune from back in the day.  When Cops screeched everywhere in cars, to a halt and in interminable car chases.  Which were meant to be exciting but were not.

When Detectives wore tight and shiny leather jackets cut like blousons or suits.  In lurid yet wonderful colours.  They drove madly various beat up yet impossibly retro stylish (even then) cars.   And men were men and women were women.

Mostly.   Well except for the incandescently brilliant: Cagney and Lacey.
Still, I digress.

The theme music for Resjeholdt is timeless too.  That synthesiser organ messed up and throaty kind of rhythmic sound probably always will be.  You can just speed it up and slow it down.  A music eternally translatable for the time.

The theme music also called to mind that of the French series, Les Limiers which initially I gently mocked but which also, like Unit One, grew on me.

So Unit One has cool theme music which is repeated at the end with so far, similar overflying shots of green and verdant fields, the cliffs, the sea.

Each episode is complete of itself in the story or case that the Unit and the Detectives in Unit One investigate.

However sometimes an unsolved murder, or one which they think they have the culprit for, turns out to be continued in the next episode.  Since the culprit did not do it.

I did find myself wishing for more depth and detail of the cases which are investigated, Especially as regards motivation.  Often times the cases appeared to be closed very quickly once the Detectives identified the culprit.

Though we do see brief flashes and interludes of a murderer dumping a body, a car driving to a cliff and throwing a bag into the sea and so on.  But there is not so much tangible storyline of the murderer and their actions.  Nor always, the reason why.

Instead, we slowly and painstakingly piece together the story only from the clues and paper or otherwise trail of the crime found by the Unit.

A lot of the drama consists of the interplay and dialogue between the different specialist Detectives in the team.  Their day to day lives living all inside the “Mobile Unit” and their domestic lives at home.

The team work twenty four seven  on a case when they get: “(A) Request for Assistance”. I thought this phrase was the name of the first episode until I saw it again for the title of the second.  The only difference is the code number on the request I guess.

Each case is exactly that: a request for assistance with a difficult, extra-large as in bodies or unusual kind of case.  or a long term missing person, weighing on the mind of a local Detective.  These are examples.  I am slowly getting the hang of Resjeholdt.

Every visit and interview with a witness is identified and dated by typeface on screen.  This is all very industrial looking and chic but rather tiresome really since it blocks a fair bit of the screen on a regular basis.

That- for subtitle watchers, is quite a lot of the screen.  Still, this is meant to represent the codifying and recording of the case as it progresses.  We don’t as viewers really need this as we know they are interviewing such and such witness.

There are some amusing cameos from random characters that the Unit One meet.  In the local Police force for example.  There is an incredible performance from I believe the actor who played Thomas Buch in Forbrydelsen III/ The Killing Three.  As a giggling and intermittently manic suspect who is developmentally challenged.

I liked McCloud, a gruff and accented, as compared to the Unit Detectives, oddball Policeman in a small town.
“Call me McCloud” he says, reminding me somewhat of an  American county Sheriff cowboy.

McCloud keeps hanging around the Unit and interrupting and asking perpetual questions. Unaware that the Unit are delicately blanking him and consider clearly that he has overstayed his welcome. Ah, poor McCloud.

However McCloud in all his apparent slow moving grumpiness comes up with valuable clues from his notebook and pondering machinations.  Usually from his minute and extensive level of knowledge of everybody in town.

It did hit me at another point that the reference to “the mobile unit” and the fact that one of the characters is a lorry driver is related. When the lorry/ truck driver Johnny is away the unit mention the need for another driver.

So the mobile unit must be driven to the place of the crime.  From where the unit receive the request for assistance.

The murders are most gruesome to be sure and filmed in close-up unrelenting daylight. One particular case caused me to stop the movement of my fork to my mouth whilst eating.  The fork stayed there-in mid-air stationery.  Prevented from completing its journey. For quite some time.

There is no soft lighting, no shadows, no tastefully created glow: just the bright inside lights of the unit and the cold cruel light of day.  The unit itself must be metallic I am thinking. In order to be transported on the lorry/ truck.

For some reason I am foolishly indeed hopefully looking forward to the prospect of observing the unit’s transportation.

Foolishly because I tell myself that this may never happen. To our view.  This interesting apparition I conjecture will remain implied.  So far we have only seen the lorry with its normal payload and sometimes just as a cab.  There is something kind of cute about a lorry’s cab.  Scooting along.
But I digress.

I probably should describe all the Detectives in the unit: there is a gruff bespectacled boss “Ulf” who turns out to be quite kindly really.  One Detective is married to a beautiful elderly actress who has left him.  Ah. There is the head of Homicide a red haired lady “Ingrid” who is cool in her suits and her straight talking ways.  She runs the team and directs the investigation.

Then there is Mads Mikelsen (who I just saw do an incredible turn as Lon in the film Pusher) as “Fischer” and his Detective partner, “I.P”.  Fischer’s partner is a mild mannered sandy haired gentleman.  Fischer wears long leather coats and has completely Brylcreemed as in all over: from roots to tips, slicked back fairly long hair.

This hair is the subject of barbed yet subtle comment on a regular basis by the other Detectives.
But Fischer doesn’t get it.  He thinks his hair is really happening.

There is a lovely understated scene when Fischer interviews a hairdresser. Just a few infinitesimal flicks of looks, startled she appears, the hairdresser allows herself.  Out of innate politeness. Of looking at Fischer’s hair.

***

Some notes and dialogue from Unit One Series Three:

Detective:
“Bob, Bob?”
But Bob isn’t home.  You just know that this situation isn’t going to turn out well.

They all sing a song about Denmark:”We love our country”..

Detective:
“It appears his testicles were tied up, they were the size of a pea”
“He was pumped full of anabolic steroids”

We see the two women Detectives working out in a gym.  Doing weights.

In another scene a male Detective is left in bed by a reporter.

Fischer:
“On the subject of testicles, this is  how we find Bob!”

Theme tune:

“De de no no de de de na na de na da..”
“Da no da no da..”
“Du no na na na..”
“Oh ah oh ah oh ah oh ah oh”..

***

Series Three and Series One.

So I have seen Series Three in its entirety  now.  Plus I have watched the first three episodes of series one.  This was just the order in which I found the DVDs.  I could have got series two but I told myself try something new.  So I tried The Protectors.

Of the two I prefer Resjeholdt/ Unit One I realise.  Whilst starting off in flavour to watch as a slight, sparsely sketched drama into one that seems mysteriously to have grown somehow.  In the drama’s effect and depth.

As in The Protectors, I do personally find the attention given to the domestic lives and loves of the characters to be a tiresome inclusion.  However Resjeholdt is less human interest heavy than The Protectors.

You do figure out after a while exactly who is in love with who.  In Unit One.  Plus to give the characters their due: there is a beautifully acted understated domestic tragedy ongoing throughout. One other character in the Unit is aware of this other character’s pain and silent suffering.

I guess that is the curse of being with Detectives.  They can figure stuff out.  But then the character who is aware of the other character’s suffering is about to have some tragedy of their own.  And so it goes on.

Lets just say I was pretty switched onto the whole domestic tragedy thing, when I first started Series three.  I don’t know why but I just knew one character in particular would not be allowed to be happy for long.   In fact I was pretty much flinching every time this character got in a car.  Waiting for the crash.  The crash that never came.

However I was rather smugly reminded of my prediction later. Call it the Eastenders principle.  I guess happiness is is just not that dramatic.

Maybe it’s just me.  However I never really see the relevance of a domestic focus myself.  I suppose the device is there to break up the monotony of murder and death.  The cases. For me it is the cases that could do with a touch more depth.  But there you are.

It seems I cannot win sometimes as there have been moments when the case was so intricate and unending especially when it necessitated watching the next episode to see its resolution) to be getting a mite bit boring.  Like enough already.

I did prick up  my ears at two unusual words uttered by the inimitable and inscrutable (and exceedingly clever) Le Cours:
“Hydropobia and Lotterini”.

Unbelievably and amusingly: quiet and retiring Detective “IP” repeats the same two words. They are both extremely knowledgeable about snails.

I was pleased and minorly entranced to see in the first few episodes of Series one: the arrival of the brand new and hugely impressive mobile unit.  Boy was it cool.  Jonny Olsen who is terribly famous only to the men in the Unit is the tall indeed giant like driver of the mobile unit. He has a nearly bald head, two large ears and the clearest sea blue eyes.  Coupled with a tentative cheeky grin.

As described originally I was unaware of the mobile unit’s existence even though I was viewing the Unit team inside it. Slowly it dawned on me by minor deduction and observations however; that this cool metallic walled brightly lit capacious space was a mobile unit.  Which was driven to near the scene of a crime on the back of Jonny’s Lorry/ truck.

I noticed in the scene in which the mobile unit  first arrives that Johnny Olsen cranks a hydraulic or rolling mechanism on the outside of the truck. This enlarges a room.  Super/ superbe.

I did find myself pondering whether the team of people in the Unit one are actually inside the unit when Johnny drives it.  But on reflection this would sem rather unsafe and is probably not allowed.

I had noticed before that the Unit One Detectives arrange a reconstruction of a crime.. OK we have seen reconstructions on TV.  However in this case the real perpetrators of the crime are asked to act it out.  No-really!

I was amazed and confounded the first time I saw this reconstruction.  Although using the actual criminal or suspect obviously makes sense.  I have a dim memory of such a sene in Spiral.  But I canna remember if they used the suspect. Something tells me not.

The second time the Unit One team  do an actual reconstruction I inadvertently found this spectacle amusing.  it just was.  Perhaps it was Le Cours, lying down in slow motion, pretending to be shot.  Just like playing, as kids, being a cowboy, dying.  Even though we weren’t allowed toy guns.

I am sure I was not meant to find the scene amusing.  I  suppose I should feel contrite.  Yet for me this just adds to the amusing and interesting touches to Resjeholdt.  Like the Latin name for snails. Who knew a snail could be called Lotterina.

Admittedly these humourous touches are scattered lightly and far apart.  Others obviously may not find them amusing and idiosyncratic at all.  They might find other sayings and happenings funny.  I am trying to think just what.  Since apart from the domestic dramas, some of which is getting (kind of) dark itself, there is a whole bunch of grisly murders and death.

There is some pleasant and interesting scenery to be had too.  As we see some far flung out of the way places and fjords.  Since the team are called out to small villages to help out the local Police with a particularly difficult or intractable case.

The scenery is not shot or filmed in any particular way.  Except perhaps prosaically. It is the opening and closing credits which are more spectacular and artfully coloured in film.

I have forgiven (or just got used to) the large amount of space taken up on screen by the two typed descriptions of the scene.  For example; the request for assistance code number and the interview with the witness description.

One caption is of course in Danish, the second below is the subtitled one.  Both descriptions are in different fonts.  Myself, I prefer the Danish font which is like typewriter text.

I guess if you know Danish then only one set of captions will cover the screen.  sometimes this writing unfortunately blocks out some of the speech description.  But briefly.  The double set of captions are not up for long.

Viewers of the Danish series The Bridge series will recognise in the opening credits the vertigo inducing shots of the famous bridge between Denmark and Sweden.  The screen splits into horizontal parts which have a different piece of action in each one.  The titles are shown in white on an old fashioned filmic black blocked strip.

Then there is the minorly at first but growing eventually to be fairly addictive: unusual theme music. Which I have tried so hard to phonetically, on paper to reproduce.  Perhaps it would be easier to simply listen for yourself..

I guarantee it will not be long before you are singing along:
“Da na da no na, da na na, na. na..”

Detective Le Cours by the way, is slowly revealed to be an expert scene whisperer. So to speak.  Like a horse whisperer.  He can sense the scene and OK he doesn’t directly speak to the scene but he relates his deductions out loud.  As to the progress: step by step of the crime as carried out by the criminals.

Le Cours is absolutely excellent at getting a bearing on a futher part of the crime scene away from the original one.  Then tracking and identifying more footprints and tracks.  Even deducting the slide of a small motorboat through a patch of mud.

“Wellington (boots) man” La Cours says out loud, pointing to the footprints in the mud.
  “trainer man” he adds.  Pointing again.  “Trainer man went there”  And so on.

At first when the forensic guys on the scene hear and see La Cours doing his spoken out loud reconstruction of the scene: they laugh.  They snigger.  However Le Cours amazes them with some pronouncement on the Latin name for snails.  Plus much else besides.

Mads Mikelsen as Fischer is also an excellent performance.  The progress of Fishcer’s hair is a delicately amusing tale to observe.

I also liked the punk Gothic look that Ingrid the head of Homicide has going on in the Series One. With her hair and black eye-liner and increasingly hollowed out eyes.  Eventually her style changes too.

Mads Mikelsen as Fischer is extraordinarily good at interviewing people.  Gaining their trust and charming them if needs be.  Fischer especially excels at interviewing people, of every age, that are eccentric or walk on the wrong side of the law.

I did wonder if Fischer’s slightly gangsterish look with his one hundred percent Brylcreemed long hair and indeterminately long leather coat actually helped him to be looked upon more favourably as less threatening. By some of the suspects.

Yet Fischer will put on his most fabulous blue suit and wide kipper tie to visit a traumatised old lady. And patiently sip tea.  In that scene the elderly lady inches her chair closer to Fischer.  tall as he is Fischer provides a  brief barrier to the terrified lady.  As she half turns her back to him and fearfully glances around.

Fischer treads delicately in his questions.  Like he was hopping from lily pad to lily pad and was really a frog.

The camera loves Mads Mikelsen’s face.  Which is beautifully symmetrical.  All of the characters were well played I thought.  Both separately and together in ensemble.

I did feel that a certain character’s medical predicament was signposted rather large.  I think it was fairly plain to the viewer.  Like the message was flashing, in increasingly brighter neon lights.  Like they sing in pantomimes:
“it’s behind you!”
Well in this case the message was in front.  Of another character  But they could not see.

This described scenario whilst tragic still had slightly ludicrous aspects.

****

Footnote.

The Lorry/ truck that drives the mobile unit has a 124 litre engine.

Liked it? Take a second to support Clarissima on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *