A The Bridge Community
FX (ended 2014)
There is no bridge between England and France. Although ideas have been around for a long time, the necessary materials aren’t available yet to ‘bridge’ the 50km gap. And, there’s the heavy traffic of ships, making it almost impossible to built a bridge with no risk to the ships. So, if you want to put your body exactly on the borderline between France and England, you’d have to put her on the sea bottom or in the Chunnel (channel tunnel or Eurotunnel). For a detective series based on the Danish/Swedish series Bron/Broen the second option seemed to be the better one.

The Chunnel is for trains, if you want to cross it with your car you have to put the car on the train. Trains won’t stop for bodies on the border, probably because they wouldn’t see them at all. So, beforehand I was wandering how they would pull it off, but I learned a few new things watching tonight’s pilot of the new French- English serie ‘The Tunnel’. There is a pretty big maintenance road beside the train tracks. It is two cars wide, although the cars have to be pretty small. They seem to have been purposely built for these roads.

When a maintenance guy drives his truck from France to England, he encounters a body on the borderline. The lights did not go out to cover anything up. Not needed as this maintenance truck seemed to be the only one driving on that road. A team of French (female) and a team of (male) English detectives turn up. A pretty direct French detective claims the crime, the English give in and then the body of course was a in two parts, making it a combined crime site after all. One upper half from a French MP, one bottom half from a Welsh prostitute.

The interaction between the English and French has been (let’s call it) interesting over the last millennia. They have fought so many wars, sometimes hated each other guts, therefore having very distinct opinions about each other. They also express these opinions in the pilot, partly for fun and I assume, partly to get it out of the way. The physical distance between the two countries is also bigger than in the original and US versions. I do hope that they will take that into account when progressing. You can’t get to each other in minutes. Both leads have German names, Karl Roebuck for the English detective, Elise Wassermann for the French detective. There must be a reason the writers did it, otherwise it is plain stupid.

There was no scene with the ambulance that was the basis of a lot of awkward scenes in the other versions. There was a similar scene where Karl let’s Charlotte go when she wants to meet her husband while Elise wanted to interrogate her. She complained about it to her boss, but Karl didn’t break any rule. It just seemed to be to establish that she is fond of structure and protocol. A scene with her colleagues joking about her seemed to have the same reason. Both felt a bit made up.

Karl is established as a ladies’ man. He had three woman and five children, but I cannot image him as a ladies’ man like I could with Marco (or even Martin in the original one). But, I loved his reference to the famous French comic ‘Asterix & Obelix’ about Elise: “Seriously, she fell in the magic potion, but instead of giving her strength, it took away all her social skills”. If they use more of ‘local’ references, it will make the series better.

For the female lead role they took another blonde actress that looked like the Saga in the original series. But the actress who plays Elise didn’t grab me at all. She is "socially inept", but it feels incongruent with her looks and behaviour. The biggest difference is in the eyes, they seem so very normal to me. Although she says the same sentences as her US and Danish colleague, it only makes her irritant and not a bit endearing like in the other ones. But they gave her a Porsche car like in the original. It fits her character much better than the SUV they gave her in the US version.

Talk on the internet was mildly optimistic. Those who compared it with the original and US version say they both were better. I might watch the rest, maybe to see how the interaction between the French and English enfolds. It must give it the extra we need.



PS Pardon my English/American if I made too many mistakes. As I’m Dutch it’s not my native language.
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Oct 23, 2013
New ep tonight folks:)
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Oct 23, 2013
I'll think about a kind of review or comparison, althought it took me a bit of effort last time.
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Oct 22, 2013
Has anyone thought that the over familiarity could mislead us in some ways? It struck me how when I first saw The Tunnel with the scene with Karl and the economists wife. In that when he lets her go and asks her to report to the police or he could get in trouble, but then sais I may already be in trouble. It was here my first thought was to think of him as the known lady's man and that was his meaning. But then I thought if I didn't know of his character as a chancer with women, I more than likely would have stopped around thinking he just meant being in trouble with Elise.
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Oct 23, 2013
I've thought about it for a day and I still think they will follow the original pretty good. But, as the US version did, they will take some freedom with the sidestories. We'll have to wait.
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Oct 21, 2013
I would like to start by saying cheers to Rolamb for putting this up.
The main trouble, perhaps, overall is the different cultures and countries people who will all view these three very differently from differing backgrounds and perspectives. One thing that niggles me is the way the language is supplanted from the origin languages in the subtitles. Oten one can clearly make out different words being spoken but different ones being used in text. How much this affects the nuance of the writer is impossible to say, and/or judge how a thing spoken in a certain area means one thing and how subtlety or blatant it should be taken. But vive la difference, we have three now!!!
Just seen the first ep of Tunnel and rather liked it. Heavy parts are going to feel a bit old hat now (as I've seen the other two) but there's still enough quirks of difference to like it. In some ways it's more alike to the original than the US version, in particular the two lead characters. The male is an average Joe in looks but with oodles of empathy and a disarming sense of humour. And importantly that's where his intellect comes in to use these in cases and hunting out females. As how often is it in life that you see an average looking guy; with a much better woman, who has won her heart through subtle charm, apparently caring nature and laughter?!
Similarly the French detective is a somewhat allusive/cold appearing character and almost robotic in nature, though with glimpses of humanity. And she shares the office alienation with her funny colleagues.
The dodgy economist is a swerve in the tale what with his fearing for his life, instead of simply being ill in health. I did find his wife a bit too ditsy and subserviently annoying.
The journalist was truer to form too, in his vapid and dislikeable personality. Whether he'll suffer the same fate as the original or escape like in the US version because he polled well with viewers time will tell.
Then there's the mysterious guy who's either helping or killing off women - we just don't know for sure yet.
Perhaps because I'm English I find parts of this more relatable and appreciate the subtle humour and darker feel in atmosphere and scenery. A problem I had with the US one was I never felt particularly worried for characters and felt it was too brightly shot - desert aside! It just felt too Americanised/soft to me - for example, redeeming the journalist. No offense to US viewers here either.
I am quite excited by The Tunnel and want to see just how political this gets.
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Oct 21, 2013
As you probably have read I'm Durtch and thus inclined to look at all angles and cultures (we've always been a trading country, it's in our genes). So I tries to look at it without any judgement from inside. Besied that, I'm a bit of an anglofile, love the humour and love London.

As first appeaereances migt deceive, Karl might be a girl magnet. I do hope so as it gives me some hope for the future :-). But, to be honest, first glances do not give him that credit.

I'm happy to hear that an Englishman appreciates the subtle humor. Probably I'll miss some of that and I'm sorry I will. I would have loved to understand it all. Maybe thirty years of watching English television and English humour will help me.

I have the same issue you had with the US version, I didn't really care for one of the characters (except Linder and Sonya a bit) and that should be worrying, but the overall story was good enough to keep me interested.

I'll keep om watching this series to see where it goes and to see if politics enter. Most of the UK series that are intersting have politics in it in some way. Sometimes it works but sometimes it feels forced. I beleive that anybody who watches English television should watch "Yes Minister"and "Yes Prime Minister" before they comment on anything political. Real genius.
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Oct 21, 2013
The BBCs The Thick of It and Twenty Twelve are also excellent comedies:)
re the humour in The Tunnel, its interesting that you have both English and French to recognise/decode. Early great examples were:
when Karl first meets Elise and she tells him he's not needed and so he turns to his partner and sais "Alright Joan!" As in calm down Joan of Ark and get off your high horse!!
And in contrast the French detective who sais, "It's alright they all speak French now!" thus taking a dig at the old English expectation that everyone speaks English!!

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Oct 22, 2013
I recognised those two while watching so there still is hope for me.
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Oct 20, 2013
Hi, I also wanted to congratulate you on the article.

I have seen only the US version so far, and episode 1 from the new UK version. I guess I will have to watch the original Danish much earlier that I had planned, so that I can play the comparison game in full :)

This first episode looked indeed very similar to the US story. But somehow it helps to evaluate things. Unlike most people commenting here, I did like both the detective as much as the American ones. Although I still have reservations on Elise. She doesn't look exactly like somebody with lack of social skills, but more like just a very serious person that keeps a lot of anger inside and just vents off on everybody else. I don't know, it might be a failure of her acting.

It is a good idea to start a new show with a similar interesting premise, two countries working together in the resolution of a crime. But why the same crime? One has to wonder. Is it going to be the same crime all over again? When I was watching the scene with the bomb and the reporter, I realized that we wouldn't really know just how "cold" Elise is without this kind of scenes (this one and the one where the male detective lets the woman go). All these games serve to shape the characters. But once the characters have been "shaped", the main crime doesn't need to be the same, right? After all, the criminal's motivations don't have anything to do with Brittish and French police working together, or do they?
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Oct 21, 2013
Thank you Elise.
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Oct 18, 2013
The actor playing Karl is a favorite of mine...I must admit, I have a bit of a boy crush....i dont care how old he is. lol
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Oct 18, 2013
Good article, Rolamb. I just watched this episode and felt that it shows that it knows where it comes from. So, yes it´s alike - both its predecessors.

The good - and bad: The Porsche is back, but the colour is wrong. It´s too ordinary and good looking. An odd or drab colour would fit someone seeing the practicality in having a fast car. Less probability for it to get stolen. And someone who jumps the shower and changes at her desk isn´t that big on picking a nice blue paint.

The good: Elise is a good fit, but I need more acting to judge her Saga/Sonya skills.

The bad: In my opinion Karl didn´t strike me as a charmer. A bit too plain. Likeable as a police but not the right demeanor to be a Martin/Marco. A few pounds short there.

Another plot that fell short was the reporter incident. Might be that watching it in its third installment made it bleak. But I really think the prior two were leagues above this one.

The tunnel concept didn´t work for me. To secluded and shut off to be a role in this essay of revenge and mystery. Not public enough.

For a pilot/first episode it falls short. If the French/British - producers can spin the story in a new direction - as The Bridge did, it may be worth the wait, but we won´t know for another three episodes, right? Don´t knock it till after the fourth episode.

/Dave
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Oct 21, 2013
I think your overthinking the cars colour, for that make and model it is standard and would be considered drab. Cars are, in any case, not stolen based on colour but opportunity and a drab colour doesn't equate to a cloaking device;) I'd like to think that the somewhat elaborate nature of the car represents another quirk of her character, in that it's fast and so practical in speed but also not practical for much else except a showy personality - something she isn't supposed to be. Just a thought.
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Oct 21, 2013
in the US version, the car was from her dead sister, right? like the jacket - so it didn't quite apply to personality traits in there... I understand in the uk and original versions this was different, then?
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Oct 21, 2013
In the original version the Porsche was an old 911 and The Tunnel had a newer black one. The picture below is the original one.


We can discuss in what way the car represents her character and if we do, the original version is best in my opinion. It's more primitive, individual and basic. The US version, as you said, is her sisters and has nothing to do with her personality, it's another emotion. The Tunnel recognises her character and keeps the Porsche, although they've chosen a newer, more common and less specific one. I think they missed the finer specifics.
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Oct 21, 2013
Which missed the finer specifics, not The Tunnel? I think the Tunnel gave her the newer model precisely to highlight she's not cut n dried with a one way or the other personality. Whereas the US used the emotive sister backdrop of a car and it's stuck mixed tape.
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Oct 20, 2013
I think the tunnel would be an interesting place for crimes to happen if it was related to the train. This was just to mimic the original story, a bit forced.

I think this version is trying to be more pan-European, and not only Brittish-French. That might explain the names thing (that somebody pointed out, although "Elise" as such is a French name as much as it is German - it is a very old name!) and other details given. They were talking on the tv of something that very recently happened in my country (Spain) too.
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Oct 19, 2013
Agree with you on the way the Porsche looks. I was so happy it was back in comparison with the US version I didn't notice the rest.

And who are we to judge Karl. Maybe someone like him is very lovable for Frech and English viewers. We obviously don't see it.

And, thank you.
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Oct 18, 2013
After watching FX's version of The Bridge this all seems too familiar, but I will watch a couple more. I really liked the FX version and the characters much better, and the Juarez-El Paso border really worked for me. Also, I thought Sonya was perfect. Good article...
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Oct 19, 2013
Thnk you very much.
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Oct 18, 2013
That's the chic from Harry Potter Goblet of Fire. From the French school.
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Oct 18, 2013
And the original Mary, Queen of Scots from the 2004 BBC mini series (the one where the actors featured the right accents).
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Oct 18, 2013
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Oct 18, 2013
Hah, now my unfamiliarity with Harry Potter is catching up with me. Sorry to ask, but what are you referring to?
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Oct 18, 2013
the French actress played the French character Fleur in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie. She was supposed to be gorgeous and undeniable. She eventually marry's Ronald Weaslys brother
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Oct 24, 2013
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Oct 19, 2013
Yes her name is Clémence Poésy
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