The Tunnel-my review of first three episodes-PART ONE (PART TWO Posted 29th December-update and Final Review) Minor spoilers only-on in the UK on Sky Atlantic Channel Wednesdays @ 9pm-Nb. see also small Preview here posted on 10th October 2013

Nb. I am re-posting this preview here for convenience.

The Tunnel
Starting 16th October on Sky Atlantic.
Nooooo!  I don’t have this Channel.

This is a remake of the Scandinavian series, The Bridge.

The Tunnel is an English-French collaboration and as The Bridge fans know-the body is found on the border half-way between two countries. In this case in the Channel Tunnel.  Apparently this is the first film ever shot in the Channel Tunnel.

Oh yes and a Detective from each country has to work the case together.  Cue supposed stereotypical differences..

There is a large and interesting preview of this series in The Independent which i will dig up soon and post the link.

Here it is:
The Tunnel-Chunnel Vision by Gerard Gilbert Wednesday 9th October
Nb. There is another review somewhere in the Independent but can’t rustle it up right now.


The Tunnel


Well i have seen three episodes of The Tunnel. & it was just OK.

Beautiful to look at of course.  But never as beautiful as the breathtaking still scenes of The Bridge.  (Sigh)

Rather tiresomely as seems to be de rigeur these days, we spend a lot of time as viewers flying metaphorically above the scene.  Like we were trapped in a small bi-plane forever.

Useful i suppose, to get the general layout of the buildings and the exact nature of the approaches to the white cliffs of Dover.  If we ever need to make a landing.

Huge and sweeping vistas of views is all very wonderful and cinematic.  However a sort of vertigo is creeping in lately for me.  Perhaps I’ve just had enough of inexplicably but barely being land borne any more.

So many swooping shots of brightly lit cities we view, twinkling from above in drama upon drama.  Why?

Yes, pretty twinkling lights, smooth expanses of sea. To signify we have landed back in Calais. Again.  The time spent on land is the complete opposite of the detail you would expect. The occasional outside of a building for reference.

 However no real idea of how the character arrived there. Unless its along an eponymous road.  With the two talking heads in a car.

Unlike The Bridge, well except for the Scandinavian interiors which seemed to be uniformly bland and beige, there is precious little rich colouring in The Tunnel.

Everything seems washed out, pale and bleak.  Grey, white, insipid shades.  Although the French Police wear some jolly nice jumpers more British in appearance than French.  One could say Scandinavian. Perhaps it is much colder there?  by the sea.

Somehow we know in spite of looking like Arran knit from Argyll these jumpers would never be worn in the British Police Station.  so the French are signalled as more casual and cool.

The English Detective has a Tweed jacket under a Balfour style jacket. See, the stuffy old English wear suits.

As in the Bridge, the British Detective is easy going and humorous, with a sarcastic humour.  Although not as humble and self-deprecating as Martin from The Bridge.  They (both men) have had vasectomies.  We feel and see his pain every time he sits down with a wince which mostly left me wondering exactly which part is sore.

The French detective as in the Bridge is meant to be on the spectrum of Aspergers syndrome.

Yet to my mind, the actress has way overdone this as she mostly appears continually so spaced out and stiff that she makes Data from Star Trek, a a humanoid android, look over emotional by comparison.

The story, so far, is pretty much the same.

Oh and the British Detective lives in a giant farm house, stylishly converted of course, in the middle of an enormous cornfield.  Where his 2.2 children gambol and play and life is forever sunshine.

The French Detective lives in a tiny flat with vertical Venetian blinds and sits on the floor eternally working the casewhilst eating baguette sandwiches of French fries with lashings of hot chilli sauce.  Because she officially doesn’t care about sustenance and food is just a fuel.

When the French Detective returns to a hotel she was in earlier for a meeting and beckons the handsome bartender for a frolic in a room she could have had The Terminator vision:

“Human life form-do not terminate-male”
and uttered the words:
“Give me your clothes and your motorcycle”
“Tzz.  Tzzz.”

Rather ridiculously. as in American dramas, we are subject to viewing energetic shagging but swiftly censored bras.

I did like how the Barman just kept giggling at her.  I thought they would be a good match.

Then there is the officially arrogant English Newspaper man who live sin a fictitious place called Sandgate.  In a completely fabulous pad by the sea.  it looked more like California than England. No wonder they had to make it up.

The Tunnel won’t call the Newspaper man a Journalist since he works for a tabloid.  Officially sneering boo hiss.  Particularly from the British Detective who instantly stereotypes his column and readers.

The Tunnel especially give the Journalist white trousers to wear for reasons that later become clear..

It was for cinematic purposes and so the British Detective can inexplicably taunt the Journalist later over what you might have thought rather a traumatic experience.  One that you would have expected to elicit just a little sympathy too.

Oh and please note, i think we quite clearly hear the French Detective right at the start of The Tunnel when she and two colleagues are standing near the newly discovered body and see the British Detective coming mutter pejoratively that:
“(Here comes) Les Ros Bif” (The Roast Beef)

This is translated as British in the subtitles.  I think we all know that this is about as correct as calling the French:
“Frogs” and translating that as if you really said the French.

There is also a disturbing side story concerning a vulnerable woman failed asylum seeker in Calais.  Strangely or not from Columbia.
(I only say this since Columbia is an unusual pace to seek asylum from to Britain)
“I can’t go back there all my family were murdered”

I vaguely remember this side story in The Bridge but for the life of me cannot remember it’s outcome beyond grenades and her being trapped in an isolated country house.  In The Tunnel they give the Columbian lady a son.  Who appears out of nowhere as he isn’t there at first.

Oh and presumably because it is set in Calais mainly, multiple references to immigration are made,  But only by the British Detective including scathing comments to the tabloid Journalist. All very tiresome as teaching moments.  Particularly as he lives in the middle of a giant cornfield.


Perhaps it’s me and i am biased towards the Scandinavian original, The Bridge.  I do find myself wondering, nay pondering the oddness of making an exact replica of a series just in a different place with a different language.  Why?  One might ask.& What exactly is the point?  This would occur more of course if you have seen the original.

You or I find yourself questioning whether you thought the Scandinavian The bridge was better somehow because it was different?  As in seeming more glamorous, wonderful and interesting just because it is in a different country?
Maybe so.  Partly.

However people are still pretty much the same.  so are Police, Police Stations, Policemen, Policewomen and murderers.
  & Victims for that matter. The only real difference is on the scenery, sometimes in the interiors and some supposed, slight cultural quirks.

The English Detective necessarily must wear Tweed.  The French must be deshabille’ chic in jumpers and neck meeting chin beards. yet none of the French smoke!

Maybe everybody in Europe has given up.  Nowadays it is a very rare rebel in dramas who smokes. Although strangely, apparent non-smokers hold onto a craftily secret pack squirelled away. Which they in rare moments unearth for a pensive and deep moment puff.

At which point an equally traumatised but brave faced colleague (or even a victim) will say:
“Give me one of those”.

The thing is The Tunnel is not just insipid of colour in its palest of watercolour wash.  so much so that i found my eyes visually feasting on  the deepest palette yet found, a shot of a blue verdigris green weathered seaside stone wall.

It is a bit boring and bland.  & So are,mostly the characters.  They seem to move too slowly and oh so expressionlessly, through their whitewashed water colour world.

Dialogue comes out of their mouths yet seems strangely disconnected and flat.  Almost like an unexplained time lapse had occurred between speech, movement and action.

When I find myself minutely examining the French Detective’s bun and marvelling at its construction, whilst concluding that the secret is hair pins then really I’m bored.

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