Rejseholdet’s atmospheric cinematography perfectly captures the dark and moody essence of the show
Review by Alma Eva
Predating The Bridge, Borgen and The Killing, Rejsehldet (literal English translation: Mobile Unit) is an excellent example of Nordic noir, that ran for four series from 1 October 2000 to 1 January 2004. A gem of a series, this captivating Danish production, which was known internationally as Unit One, created by Peter Thorsboe, was inspired by real-life crimes and takes viewers on an enthralling journey through the inner workings of a specialized Danish police unit.
The series centres around the skilled detective, Ingrid Dahl, brilliantly portrayed by the talented actress Charlotte Fich. Ingrid leads the elite mobile task force known as "Rejseholdet," which is tasked with solving complex and often gruesome murder cases. The unit is based in Copenhagen but its jurisdiction spans the entire country, requiring them to travel across Denmark to investigate various crimes, although it also visited Sweden, Iceland, Germany and the UK.
What sets Rejseholdet apart from other police procedurals is its remarkable attention to detail and its ability to delve into the emotional complexities of its characters. Each episode presents a new case that not only challenges the team's investigative abilities but also explores their personal struggles.
Each member of the team possesses unique traits and flaws that add depth to their personalities, making them feel incredibly relatable and human. The show explores their personal lives and relationships, delving into their triumphs, failures, and the impact that such a challenging career has on their loved ones, which gives the series a multifaceted and layered approach, elevating it beyond the standard police procedural. Rejseholdet delves into the personal lives of the detectives, giving viewers a glimpse into their struggles with relationships, addiction, and personal demons. The audience not only becomes invested in the exciting crime-solving journey but also develops a genuine emotional connection with these characters, rooting for their successes and sympathizing with their struggles as they confront a wide range of criminal activities, from serial killers and drug traffickers to political conspiracies, not shying away from exploring the gritty and ugly side of crime, making it a more realistic portrayal of police work and shining a light on the toll that such high-stress jobs can take on its characters.
The writing in Rejseholdet is outstanding, weaving intricate storylines that leave viewers on the edge of their seats. Each episode is a master class in suspense, with unexpected twists and turns that keep audiences guessing until the very end.
The ensemble cast is exceptional, bringing depth and nuance to each role. Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter in the series Hannibal) delivers a powerful performance as Allan Fischer, a brooding and enigmatic detective who harbours his own dark secrets. Lars Brygmann portrays the endearing and somewhat bumbling detective Jens Peter "IP" Johansen, providing a much-needed touch of humour amidst the dark subject matter.
Unlike many crime dramas that rely heavily on glamour and theatrics, this series focuses on the meticulous process of gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and solving cases through solid police work. The attention to detail and dedication to authenticity shines through each episode, allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves in the world of these law enforcement professionals.
With exceptional production values, Rejseholdet’s atmospheric cinematography perfectly captures the dark and moody essence of the show, enhancing the overall viewing experience. Combined with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, the series creates an immersive world that draws viewers in from the first episode.
Its success led to an international release, earning critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase worldwide. In 2002, the series received the Emmy Award for Best Drama Series from the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series also won the Best Drama Award at the annual Danish Television Awards in both 2001 and 2002. For his leading role, Mads Mikkelsen received the Best Actor award at the 2002 Danish Television Awards. Despite its initial release over two decades ago, the series still holds up as a timeless and riveting drama. With its gripping narratives, well-developed characters, and realistic portrayal of crime and its consequences, Rejseholdet is a must-watch for fans of police dramas and crime thrillers alike. It is a shining example of the quality television that Denmark has to offer and is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who watch it.
Published on September 21st, 2023. Written by Alma Eva for Television Heaven.