Why are crime series so popular? Law & Order SVU on its own is up to season 22! That’s almost 500 episodes. Is it the grizzly crimes, the plot twists, red herrings, shocking revelations or just that feeling of satisfaction when justice has been served by our flawed but charismatic lead? Or all of the above? The best combination of all of these elements are being explored in world drama, and we just can’t get enough of these international crime series at SBS On Demand.
Starting in 2005 Spiral is the award-winning series that follows a team of flawed but driven police officers and prosecutors as they contend with the most heinous crimes in modern-day France. Spiral covers both the investigative and legal elements of any given case, moving from catching the culprit to bringing them to justice in the courtroom. Think Law & Order, but darker, grittier and in Paris. The show has also been compared to The Wire, as it delves into the impact the work has on our heroes’ personal lives and the systematic corruption they have to face. Spiral is one of the best cop shows around and with season 8 hopefully coming later this year, there is no better time to start watching than now.
Spiral seasons 1–7 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Wallander is back at SBS On Demand, and this is not the Kenneth Branagh version, it’s the original and, if we may say so, the best. This Swedish television series is adapted from Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander novels, with each movie-length episode (it’s like 2 for the price of 1) presenting a new crime to be solved. One of the first in the Nordic Noir phenomenon, the series’ success is down to the title character himself (played incredibly by Krister Henriksson). A driven cop with a vulnerable side, a man committed to doing what’s right, even as he knows the damage it’s doing to his life. He’s flawed but charming and has a relentless desire for justice.
Wallander is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
On the day the results of the French presidential elections are in, President-elect Idder Chaouch is the victim of an assassination attempt. The suspect turns out to be a cousin of Fouad, Chaouch’s future son-in-law. Fouad, a highly sought-after actor, sees his world crumble. Urged by Marion, the Head of Security for the President, he agrees to investigate his own family in order to understand his cousin’s motives, convinced that his own brother, Nazir, is behind the attempt on the President’s life. Over six days and six nights, the two tribes will fight their battles while France is racked with doubt and under threat, as the country’s identity issues play out. Is it revenge? The symptom of a fratricidal struggle? Manipulation? A political family saga, Savages is a reflection of France’s contemporary identity that will have you questioning who shot the President?
Savages season 1 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
There’s no denying the Danes know how to do a good crime drama, and they hit it out of the park again with DNA. The co-creator of The Killing was inspired by a real event in Denmark for his latest crime thriller – an error in the National Police’s DNA records central registry. This glitch in the system meant that piles of cases were never recorded, something that seems unfathomable – and perfect for a crime thriller. The series follows detective Rolf Larsen, whose life falls apart after his baby daughter goes missing without a trace. Five years later a case he happens upon in a small town uncovers a flaw in the DNA database, a discovery which might finally help him find his daughter.
DNA is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
When you read the synopsis for The Head, you just know you are going to be marathoning this new series to find out what happened.
After a summer of hard scientific work at Polaris VI International Research Station, most of the crew head home. Only a few chosen ones stay behind to endure the Antarctic winter. Inexplicably, in the middle of the long polar night, communications with the base are lost. Weeks later, a team led by Johan, the summer commander, comes to the rescue… only to find the most terrifying scene: a bunch of brutally murdered bodies, two survivors and one missing person: Johan’s wife. Arthur, the veteran in charge of the scientific team, and Maggie, the young and inexperienced doctor, are the only survivors that can shed some light on the crimes. But they are also the main suspects. Both tell completely different stories. Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? And will Johan be able to find his wife before it’s too late?
The Head season 1 premieres at SBS On Demand from Friday 25 September.
Darkness: Those Who Kill
Darkness: Those Who Kill is a reboot of a 2011 Danish series, but this time they made it darker and more Nordic Noir. 17-year-old Julie is kidnapped on the streets of Copenhagen suburb Greve late one night. Six months later, investigator Jan Michelsen is the only one who believes Julie is still alive. Jan brings in an expert on serial killers: Louise Bergstein. Having left the world of criminal profiling she now works as a therapist for rape victims. That same night, the perpetrator kidnaps yet another young woman, Emma. When Emma comes to 12 hours later, she is locked up in a basement, with Julie. Jan and Louise constantly move around in the thrilling periphery of a murderer’s view as they link a series of killings. Will they be able to find him and stop him before another girl dies?
Darkness: Those Who Kill is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant as our lead investigators, Broadchurch is set in a small beachside town with wind and cliffs aplenty and a crime that will have you trying to guess who in the town is guilty. In season 1 when the body of 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found on the sand in Broadchurch, DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller are called to investigate a case that will change the small Dorset community forever. This slow-burn murder mystery will hook you in and the performances from the incredible cast will make you want to watch just one more episode (and then surprise, you’ve watched them all).
Broadchurch seasons 1–3 are now streaming at SBS On Demand.
DCI John Luther (played by Idris Elba) is back for a fifth season. This dark psychological crime drama focuses on Luther, a man struggling with his own terrible demons, all while hunting dangerous criminals on the streets of London. Luther is consumed by his work, the darkness of the crimes can consume him, and to get the job done he might break the rules a little bit.
In season 5 a series of seemingly indiscriminate killings become ever more audacious. Luther and new recruit DS Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) are confounded by a tangle of leads and misdirections that appear designed to protect untouchable corruption. To make matters more complex, the son of Luther’s old adversary George Cornelius has gone missing and he believes the detective has something to do with it. And it wouldn’t be Luther without the return of everyone’s favourite psychopath and murderer Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson).
Luther season 5 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
This gripping espionage and political thriller follows Mari, an Intelligence Agency officer who goes undercover to befriend an asylum seeker who has arrived in Finland. Why? Because the refugee in question is Madina Taburova, one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, now presumed dead. Mari sets out to win Madina’s trust in a mission to uncover what her intentions are in Helsinki.
Produced by the team behind The Bridge, The Killing and the hugely successful Millennium trilogy of films, Bullets is a hard-edged thriller where the focus is a game of cat and mouse between two women – both driven, both at the top of their game, both willing to put their life on the line to get the job done. For one of them, that job is all about protecting lives. For the other, murder is simply a means to an end.
Bullets is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Baghdad 2003, Saddam Hussein has been thrown out of power and the US-led Coalition forces now occupy Iraq. Muhsin Al-Khafaji (Waleed Zuaiter), a care-worn but resilient ex-Iraqi Police Inspector no longer recognises the country that surrounds him. When his eldest and recently estranged daughter Sawsan (Leem Lubany) goes missing, he makes it his sole aim to track her down and bring her home. Al-Khafaji like so many on this list is a perfect detective/inspector – he has a dark past, a small drinking problem, top-notch detective skills and he is also extremely charismatic. Will he be able to toe the line between the new local Iraqi-led police and the US military police while searching for his missing daughter?
Baghdad Central season 1 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
Mary and Mike
Mary and Mike sheds light on a horrendous time in Chilean history. It focuses on two special agents Mariana Loyola and Andres Rillon, who are assigned to take out those who are in opposition to dictator Augusto Pinochet. To do this undetected they adopt the guise of an everyday couple with two children. Based on a real-life pair, they were dubbed the most dangerous couple in Latin America. If this wasn’t based on real events, one might indeed find this double life implausible.
Mary and Mike season 1 is now streaming at SBS On Demand.