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From the Netherlands, 'The Oldenheim Twelve' Arrives on Acorn
February 18, 2019  | By David Hinckley  | 3 comments

In the early days of television, mysterious disappearances were a problem pretty much limited to The Twilight Zone.

These days, characters can mysteriously disappear anywhere, from The Disappeared to True Detective.

It seems to be a particularly serious problem on European television, for some reason, which brings us to The Oldenheim Twelve, a 2017 Dutch series that comes Monday to the streaming service Acorn.

It’s an unusually long series by current standards, with 12 episodes. And, hey, 12 mysterious disappearances. All are puzzling, most are heart-wrenching, and the characters who create the show’s ongoing thread are imperfect and strangely intriguing.

Like many other European series, notably including those from Sweden and France, the characters don’t look like movie stars. There’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just that in contrast to many American TV series, the stars here look like people you’d see in line at CVS waiting to pick up a prescription, not someone you’d see on a red carpet.

That gives The Oldenheim Twelve a raw edge reinforced by a look that doesn’t glamorize people or places.

The first episode spends much of its time connecting dots among several main characters. Many had previous ties, but the catalyst for their confluence here is the disappearance of 16-year-old Nine (Roos Wiltink, above).

Against the orders of her parents, Nine slips out of her room late one night and rides her bicycle to a rendezvous with her boyfriend. The next morning he’s back home, and she isn’t.

This becomes the show’s first flashpoint, which is interesting because until then we have spent most of our time slowly getting to know another character, Peggy Jonkers (Noortje Herlaar, top).

Peggy arrives in town wearing comfortable clothes and carrying only a backpack. She clearly knows a lot of the people in town, including Nine, but it soon becomes evident her return has sparked more tension than welcome.

She visits her father Ruud (Aus Greidanus, below) and her sister Suus (Gaite Jansen), with whom she crashes. There’s tension there too, however, at the same time we learn Ruud is trying unsuccessfully to cope with the wake of an unfixable tragedy.

Peggy’s problem is that in the wake of that tragedy, she apparently left town without telling anyone why or where she was going. Now they feel like she abandoned them and at least owes them an explanation, which she seems disinclined to provide.

Peggy doesn’t say much, and when she does talk, she sometimes sounds like she spent her time with the Maharishi (“I’ve been everywhere and nowhere”).

Once the disappearances start, however, Peggy finds a new sense of purpose or at least engagement. She’s a journalist, it turns out, and here’s a good story.

Also working the story, for different reasons, is Sharif Dahmani (Nasrdin Dchar, top), a detective brought in to see if he can help the increasingly agitated and suspicious locals figure out just what’s going on.

The Oldenheim Twelve spins a mystery well enough to have been the most popular drama on Dutch TV last year and to have earned a second-season order.

In the larger picture, The Oldenheim Twelve uses the unsettling mystery of disappeared people as a platform on which to examine the impact on those who remain.

That’s a smart move. It’s also, fun fact, exactly what Rod Serling did on The Twilight Zone.

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I read some negative reviews, but I am totally hooked. Intriguing, complex, and addictive! I do spend time trying to figure out who each character is and her/his relationship to the others and to events. We finally learned in Ep. 4 who Vera is, though not, yet, her background. Ep. 5 coming up - hope I learn which one is Felix! Great fun if you like to keep your brain engaged! Holland, btw, is beautiful.
Mar 12, 2019   |  Reply
I agree with Zeke and am surprised that a Dutch film with subtitles is so instantly engaging - I could barely stop for meals or sleep. One of the best shows I've seen in the past year. The final episode was so well done - actually each episode was perfect. I am still pondering characters and outcome, and experiencing an odd feeling of loss and separation - inner emotions without anxiety. Well done.
Feb 22, 2019   |  Reply
I am a chronic binger to the point of loosing sleep. I recently have had to get my roommate to make me stop at a certain time. So, I am coming from a place of 3 episodes at a time. It is excruciating. Anyway, I am on episode 9 and I agree with Avalon. European scripts are always the best (in my opinion) I can always figure out US plots...boring!!!! Excellent work from the cast; directors and especially the writers.
Apr 8, 2019
I second the observation of "regular" looking people in series-- I think one of the big draws for me, in this genre. I'm tired of the overly made-up models used in most US series.
Feb 20, 2019   |  Reply
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