A change is as good as a holiday, as the old adage goes. And although diving into a European-set TV series isn't quite the same as jumping on a plane headed overseas, it can offer a considerable glimpse of a place you mightn’t visit otherwise.
Fancy a trip to a secluded Swedish town? A jaunt to seaside Sicily? A stopover in an Americana-obsessed Swiss valley? A wander through a German vineyard? Of course you do. Let these SBS On Demand series take you to all of the above - and more - without even leaving your couch.
If you’ve ever wondered why everyone seems to be drawn to small towns, perhaps Ängelby can help. The Swedish drama might start in a familiar fashion, however, just like the mysterious locale at its centre, it has its own distinctive appeal. That’s just what Vera Fors (Mia Skäringer) discovers when she arrives in search of a different life. Newcomers in a close-knit community always spark intrigue, but Vera soon finds herself immersed in a murder investigation - whether she likes it or not.
Here’s your next fish-out-of-water obsession - all three seasons of it. There’s nothing quite like a New York mobster who’s forced to flee to the snowy surroundings of Norway’s Lillehammer, after all. Lilyhammer stars The Sopranos’ Steven Van Zandt as a mafia fixer who turns against his crime boss, is placed in witness protection and picks his new hometown based on his memories of watching the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. Expect scenic vistas, a different way of life and a gangster who has trouble adjusting.
Mafia Only Kills in Summer
Journey not only to the sun-drenched climes of seaside Sicily, but back to the more innocent times of the late 1970s. Although, as Mafia Only Kills in Summer’s title suggests, expect crime as well. Based on the 2013 film of the same name, the hit Italian series follows 10-year-old Salvatore Giammaresi (Edoardo Buscetta) as he comes to terms with his first crush, his eccentric family and learning about the existence of the Mob.
If the best way to discover a new place is through the eyes of a local, then consider French miniseries Paris a thrilling inside look at the country’s capital. Following 12 intersecting characters across six episodes set during a 24-hour period in the City of Light, it traverses love, politics, secrets and more. Created by the team behind acclaimed crime drama Spiral, Paris shows another side to the tourist-friendly locale.
Try to think of somewhere in Denmark and Copenhagen naturally comes to mind. But what about Aarhus? Denmark’s second-largest city is in the spotlight in Dicte, as journalist Dicte Svendsen (Iben Hjejile) heads home fresh from a divorce. Viewers can rove their eyes over a location that’s rarely seen onscreen, while Dicte herself becomes caught up in the suspicious death of a young Bosnian woman. It’s classic Nordic noir, but in a new spot.
Every country has one, it seems - an eccentric genius who’s rather great at solving mysteries, but not so skilled at dealing with people. Belgium’s is Professor T. Welcome to the world of Jasper Teerlinck (Koen De Bouw), a university lecturer who splits his time between teaching classes, helping the police solve particularly tricky crimes, making things difficult for everyone around him and escaping into his daydreams.
Sometimes, the most interesting thing about visiting another place isn’t the local sights, as picturesque as they might be - it’s that destination's fascination with other countries. Take Station Horizon’s setting, for example - an Americana-obsessed town nestled beneath the mountains in a Swiss valley where everyone speaks French. If that’s not intriguing enough, throw in a returning ex-con and the usual array of eccentric inhabitants. If Westworld existed in Switzerland without the robots and violence, this might be what it’d look like.
A trip to a European winery has never been quite as sinister as the one that kicks German thriller The Valley into gear. Waking up in a vineyard next to the body of a dead woman, John Fox (Friedrich Muecke) is forced to work out where he is, what has happened and why everyone he meets appears to be friendly yet nothing seems quite right. It’s not just the foggy small town setting that has seen the show compared to Twin Peaks - it’s also the puzzle at its centre.