A lot of the appeal with Euro-crime TV and movies is the stunning locations. Europe is full of history and gorgeous scenery; what better backdrop for a series of horrendously brutal crimes? It's a genre that now has us spoilt for choice: with so many crime series taking place across Europe, how can anyone possibly take them all in?
Thankfully now The Team has that problem sorted. By focusing on a task-force assigned to a growing international web of criminal activity, the show is like a Contiki tour of crime as it hits all the must-see spots through its investigation of corruption and murder spanning the continent.
It’s not your usual cross-border crime-solving drama
Thanks to series like The Bridge, we’re all fully across the idea that to get anything done in Europe you’re going to have to work with your neighbours. But The Team takes that to a whole new level: while having three people murdered in three different countries (Germany, Denmark and Belgium) at roughly the same time is no big deal, having them murdered in a way that suggests all three killings are directly linked is a different matter entirely. When criminals can cross borders with ease and crimes like people smuggling, money laundering and even slavery are international in scope, how are local police supposed to stop them?
It really digs down into the complexity of modern police work
Three different police forces in three different countries trying to solve one crime means you won't get the typical story of a loose cannon investigator playing by his own rules.
When Europol sets up a pan-European task-force (known as the JIT, for Joint Investigative Team) to investigate these crimes, it’s a squad staffed with forensics and IT experts, profilers and psychologists, and above all else, legal experts able to navigate the maze of laws that make up Europe. It’s safe to say Belgium – specifically Brussels, home of the EU and its notorious red tape – doesn’t come out of this looking squeaky clean: after all, there’s a reason why cops turn into loose cannons to get the job done.
It’s bringing European television together
Co-produced by 11 media organisations from eight member states and shot on locations across the continent, The Team is a series that’s truly international in scope. Which was the plan all along: it’s is the brainchild of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the alliance of public broadcasters that produces the Eurovision Song Contest. Produced by the team behind the hit Danish political drama Borgen, and written by Peter Thorsboe and Mai Brostrøm (The Eagle, The Protectors), it has the kind of international pedigree that’s made Europe a global leader in televised crime.
An interesting side-effect of this international scope is that The Team’s various investigative teams all speak their native language when they’re at home; there’s no one universal language spoken throughout the show here. That means when they meet up they have to find a language they can all understand… and that language just happens to be Justice.
(actually no, it’s English)
Lars Mikkelson from Borgen and The Killing is back
The three cops leading the JIT are Jackie Mueller from Germany (played by Jasmin Gerat, from SOKO Köln and Coast Guard), Alicia Verbeek (Veerle Baetens, from Cordon and Code 37) from Belgium, and Harald Bjørn from Denmark (played by everyone’s favourite European crime-fighter, Lars Mikkelson). Harald might be a no-nonsense cop, but that doesn’t mean there’s not clearly something simmering between him and Jackie, while Alica is more the type to take things personally – and let her anger drive her on.
The team’s three branches are constantly roaming across the continent tracking down leads and suspects, with the action travelling from Berlin to Copenhagen to The Hague. And for a gritty crime series, there’s a lot of Europe’s finest scenery to take in; even the Cannes Film festival and the Austrian Alps make an appearance.
It’s got a great bad guy
It’s not giving anything away to reveal this this swiftly becomes a crime series that isn’t so much about whodunit as it is about trying to figure out a way to bring the guy who obviously dunnit to justice. And after a few opening twists and turns it’s clear the bad guy the JIT have their sights set on is ruthless Lithuanian billionaire Marius Loukauskis (Nicholas Ofczarek). This is a guy with his finger in a lot of very nasty pies, and his henchmen aren’t above taking care of problems in a very permanent fashion. He’s the kind of businessman who’s able to use his international empire to circumvent local laws, which means he’s exactly the kind of criminal the JIT was formed to shut down. But will they be able to put a man rich and powerful enough to live above the law behind bars?
The Team is streaming on SBS On Demand from 1 September:
Follow the author here: @morrbeat