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'Sommerdahl Murders' Reminds Us There's a Reason Why Cop Shows are Popular
June 29, 2020  | By David Hinckley

You'd think television might be running out of variations on the Troubled Cop. You'd be wrong.

And that's okay, because apparently there are more neuroses and nightmares and personal torments to be explored, and some of them, forgive us for looking at it this way, remain entertaining.

That's the case with Sommerdahl Murders, an eight-part crime series set in Denmark and debuting Monday on Acorn.

Sommerdahl Murders, based on a series of crime novels by popular Danish writer Anna Grue, features four stories in its first season, running two episodes each. As often happens with these extended tales, each could be billed as a two-hour movie with an intermission.

That, plus the fact they're all in Danish with subtitles, comprises the logistics. What matters more is the characters and the stories, both of which will hook the viewer by the end of the first half of the first tale.

Dan Sommerdahl (Peter Mygind, top) is a middle-aged guy who's been a workaholic cop, and a good one, for his whole career.

He has a wife, Marianne (Laura Drasbaek), who's in forensics and helps out on a lot of his cases. They have one daughter, who's 19 and more or less independent.

At a time when a lot of TV cops have problematic police partners, Dan has the good fortune to be paired up with his best friend, Flemming Torp (André Babikian).

So he would seem to have it made, and sure enough, episode one begins with Dan and Marianne inviting some friends to the beach to help them celebrate their 25th anniversary.

They exchange warm words and gifts, and anyone who has ever watched a single television drama knows everything is going way too well for things not to start crumbling.

Sure enough, the phone rings. It's the office. A body has been found, and Dan needs to come in and figure out the what, how, and why, and all that.

It's not the first time he's kissed Marianne and apologized for bailing out on something they hoped they could do together, like, say, celebrate their anniversary.

As we suspect, the case, soon takes a grim and urgent turn that requires Dan to hit the road and bail on the rest of the day's festivities.

Marianne, who has more patience than the average police wife, runs low on patience this time. Something happens. When Dan finds out, through a coincidence that requires the viewer to cut the story some slack, more things happen, which matters because it sets up the whole character dynamic that will be playing out for the rest of the season.

The body also blossoms into a good story, involving more than just an apparent murder. So Dan, who ordinarily seems the unflappable sort, ends up having several episodes of flapping.

As all this might suggest, the core characters of Sommerdahl Murders are decent and flawed people who navigate their own imperfect lives while trying to apprehend less decent people. If it's not a new concept, neither is it worn out.

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