A The Bridge Community
FX (ended 2014)
Hearing the song you love sung by another singer very seldom makes it better. Songs are short so there are so few elements to compare. Books are seldom rewritten, so there are no possibilities of comparison there. But films and television get remakes all the time and they usually take up more time so different interpretations are possible. And compared to songs, where you usually don’t say you like the singing in one version and the base player in the other, that is possible with a television series.

Last week I wrote a first impression of The Tunnel. After watching the second episode of “The Tunnel” I watched the second episodes of ‘Broen/Bron’ and ‘The Bridge’ again to make a better comparison. My comparison after the first episode was purely based on memory. The unexpected thing that happened was that I now admire the American version more than I did before. This might also be the case because I feel the English/French version is doing the (relative) worst job of the three up to now.

In short what happens in the second episode: Stephen is following a woman (Suze) who meets up with Tupac, a pimp and drug dealer. Later on she appears to be his sister who next to robbing people in disco’s, also helps an old lady in an elderly home. But every time the old lady gets her pills, Suze nicks them and gives the old lady paracetamol. Elise visits the pathologist who tells her that the bodies have been separated in a professional way and probably in a slaughterhouse. Alain, Charlotte’s husband, while walking on a platform and frightened by other people on that platform, stumbles easily and falls in front of a passing train (a bit of a deus ex machina the other way around). The guy that cleans up his hotel room then finds an envelope with money and an USB-stick! While investigating the murdered prostitute Gemma, Karl meets up with Tupac and via him another prostitute who gives him a diary of Gemma. Stephen Beaumont brings the asylum seeker Veronica to an outhouse in the country because of a threat of Tupac. Elise, when reading up on the case, finds out she needs a man and goes to the bartender inviting him to have sex (they do). While reading up on the people that threatened the killed judge Villeneuve, she finds Joel Mougin, a self-sufficient organic farmer with his own slaughterhouse. When she goes over there she finds, besides being captured by Joel and freeing herself, a set of legs hanging in the refrigerator. After the interrogation it is clear that it is a red herring because Joel doesn’t speak English. In the elders home of the old lady, as a second act by the murder, many die because of toxic pills. Because Suze took the pills from the old lady, she also almost dies and the old lady survives.

Writing this, I realise that I didn’t have the murder investigation as a leading issue in my mind. Daniel, the reporter, doesn’t get a mention although he gets interrogated twice. What does that say?

In the age of technical wizardry, one should never ask questions how something is accomplished, But I really don’t know how the webcam images the murder made of the discovery of the body got to him. One can place webcams over there, but how do you get the signal out of there, twenty-five kilometres out of land on the bottom of the North sea? You need cables and he didn’t have that. Okay, I’ll discard that.

I had high hopes for the English – French and vice versa jokes, but obviously it is a sensitive subject after all. I counted three, but maybe French or English inhabitants can enlighten me. Karl calls Elise ‘Fifi Croissant’ when his son asks for her name and he replies ’Yeah? Well, I would’. That’s one you must explain to me. Danny says about Elise: ‘She's about as useful as the Maginot Line and Laura calls Elise ‘Obelix’ again when Eliase calls Karl in the middle of the night. I didn’t find it as amusing as I probably should.

The Tunnel, especially in France, seems to be set in more places then Dover alone. Bron and The Bridge were really all about Copenhagen/Stockholm and El Paso/Juarez. When Elise finds the connection between Joel Mougin slaughterhouse and the murder after her sex adventure, she drives out to wherever he is located in the country. As Villeneuve was a politician, it might have been anywhere. But she arrives within the same night. That didn’t convince me at all. Apart from the distance, picking Joel out of a list of because he has a self-sufficient organic farm and therefore a slaughterhouse was really farfetched for me. How did the murder envision that Elise would go there? In Bron Saga finds the slaughterhouse though the same observation from the pathologist and a partial stamp from a slaughterhouse area on the murdered body. That at least was a more logical way of finding out. The US version didn’t bother with it at all.

In my first review, I questioned the use of the German names for Elise Wassermann and Karl Roebuck. The Tunnel, being French/English, is obviously concerned with the second world war and the Jewish ‘problem’ than the US version or Bron. The reason Joel threatened Villeneuve was because of his hate for the ‘Zionist Occupied Government of France’. The Tunnel doesn’t even use the word ‘supposed‘ or ‘alleged’. When he captures Elise, she admits in having a Jewish father and a catholic mother. I’m still not sure what this attributed to the scene, but I was interested as my grandfather was Jewish and my grandmother catholic and I know what that cost them in the last century. Danny, the journalist, when questioned says: ‘what is this, the Third Reich?’. A second reference to the second world war, one I haven’t heard since the seventies. As the English haven’t been occupied by Germany, I even don’t understand why they would use it.

Last week I wondered if they would take into account that France and England are not really around the edge like El Paso/Juarez or Copenhagen/Stockholm. And yes, they did. Elise and Karl were hardly together this episode, only in the beginning and the end. Let’s put that on the positive account of recognising the distance. It also gives me a feeling of loss as the interaction between Elise and Karl (Saga/Martin, Marco/Sonya) is an importantbuilding block in the series.

The Porsche didn’t show up at all. There was a small discussion in the comments last week about the Porsche and whether it would represent Elise’s character. If so, they should have put it into more use this week. Bron showed the car a few times and as far as I’m concerned, the American SUV had nothing to do with Sonya’s character at all.

Elise’s character is still being set up. We see her sitting behind her desk and in the next scene going into the hotel and asking the barman to have sex with her. But it was after a pretty normal discussion about each other’s availability for sex. Elise’s face looks quite without emotions, just like Charlie in Revolution season one. That’s not good.

I really don’t understand why the producer thought this would add to her character. In Bron and The Bridge the scenes are practically identical to each other. Saga/Sonya is in her room walking around and reading about the case. You see a thought coming up in her eyes and she puts her hand down her trouser and stroking herself. In the next scene she is in a club where she picks up a guy almost without discussion, especially without any moral discussion. The difference in the scenes is that in Bron one can see the effect (in her face) of her hand. Although The Tunnel tries to make Elise seem particular, the morals they also put in that scene take the effect away. But to be honest, she looks beautiful.

The Bron and Bridge version of this pickup scene were far more superior.

I didn’t mention it before, but in Bron she is dressed in leather clothes. The Bridge and Tunnel didn’t seem to need that.

Whilst in Bron Saga’s successes in re-connecting with humanity form the most is the poignant story arc of the series, in The Bridge and Especially The Tunnel the side stories seem to be as important as Elise’s is. It almost felt like the side stories had more screening time then the murder investigation and Elise had. It did not feel right as the main story should have the major part of the attention. Probably it had, it just didn’t feel so.

One aspect where the English police seems to be much brighter then the US or Danish colleagues is that they bugged Danny’s telephone lines. The other two versions didn’t and were dependant on thecooperation of Frye/Ferbé.

Last week I wrote that Elise’s character didn’t grab me at all. She is ‘socially inept, but it feels incongruent with her looks and behaviour. For me the main issue still is in her eyes. This week she looked withinvestigating, piercing eyes, but not piercing enough to make it uncomfortable. Especially Diana Kruger as Sonya did great, she looked away, seems uncertain, restless, especially in the first episodes, in line with the role she was supposed to play. Saga did almost the same.

Stephen takes pictures of the girls while saying: ‘I like to remember the people I help’. That sounds alarming so I hope they will make something out of that in the rest of the episodes. Stephen seems so nice, but he’s got a sinister side I suspect.

It also felt very strange that there was no new scene at all in/off/around the tunnel. Bron and The Bridge delivered a scene every week to make us remember where we were talking about.

The US version made us realise that there are so many murdered women in Juarez that nobody cared about. They hardly investigated that line. The other two really did some investigating into the murdered prostitute. This made more sense and felt much better. I’m wondering why the US version didn’t. Maybe they really weren’t interested?

One thing that is the same in all series: Charlotte. The problems she faces after her husband dies are completely different. I haven’t seen the Tunnel version, but I almost can’t imagine that they are as intriguing as in the US version. French Charlotte seems more naive and less equipped to handle any problem.

Tupac, the pimp and drug dealer, seems to be the bad guy in this story. He’s got connections to most of the players. Apart from choosing a poor name (the original Tupac is pushing up daisies, no more, used to be etc.), he doesn’t strike me as a Galvan yet.That guy really meant business and I’m not sure Tupac is up to anything worse than a misdemeanor.
Danny, as the reporter, seems even more irritating than Frye/Farbé were. Of course this may be the intention of the producer, but at least Frye/Farbé had some endearing qualities that we can identify with. Danny has none. I really do not like him.

In respond to an earlier comment Karl made about a photograph, Elise told Karl she had a twin sister who drowned. This is completely different from the other versions. In the Bridge Sonya’s sister is murdered and that shaped her character (including the SUV), and as far as I can remember it wasn’t even mentioned in Bron. I wonder in what way the drowning of her sister will add to the personality we’ve come to know as Elise, I can’t image one. And there we’ve got one of my problems. Though they seem to set up Elise as a complex personality, for me they just don’t accomplish it. Especially in comparison with Sonya and Saga.

The killing of the old people in The Tunnel by delivering toxic medicine seems more realistic then putting some water cans in the desert,hoping the Mexican people will find them. Bron does something in between, delivering toxic wine to homeless people.
Other small differences that probably aren’t that interesting to the story:

· In Bron and The Bridge the abduction is recorded by a surveillance camera and therefore seen by the police, in The Tunnel she just disappears when walking in a park.

· In Bron male and female nudity are seen, although Saga keeps her shirt on while having sex. Maybe that’s in character for her. In the Tunnel we have a nude Elise while having sex and in the Bridge no nudity is seen at all. That seems to be compliant with the morals in the countries (or networks). I do hope you Americans will have more of nature’s best in the future.

· In the tunnel Danny, the reporter, is a loner, working at home. In the other two he is in an office with colleagues who are of influence, especially in The Bridge

· In the Bridge Sonya is making mistakes that can be related to her Asperger, in especially the Tunnel she doesn’t make any real mistakes

· As in the other versions, Karl and his son Adam had their first visible row. But in the Tunnel there was a very small physical part (Karl grabbed his arm) that was not in the other two. It might be more acceptable in England than in the other countries

· In The Tunnel, Laura, Karl’s wife isn’t pregnant yet but she probably will soon be as it feeds into the emotion of the story

· Btw, Laura did a wonderful job as Genevieve in Merlin over the last years. Loved that series.

In the end, what is also different is something I mentioned last week and really pleases me: everyone in The Tunnel seems to be connected. Although I planned to make a diagram, I’ll put that endeavor away for a next time.

The theme song is by Charlotte Gainsbourg and is in French and English. It fits the opening scenes of this series as well as the Danish/Swedish song did for Bron. Listening back the American song it seems less appropriate for what it needs to present. I didn’t find them on Youtube, so no referrals here.

I haven’t really spoken about Karl. That is because he didn’t make another impression then he did last week. He seems nice, but doesn’t impress as a ladies’ man.

Looking back, I’ve gained new admiration for the US version. It’s got the better of most worlds except for the sometimes prude way of picturing relations. I’m still wondering if I’ll keep on watching the rest of The Tunnel, but probably I will because I’m still curious. On the other hand, I’ve also got the second season of the original series. But I’m waiting until that whole series is finished so I can watch it in one go.

PS Writing this second comparison made me have more and more respect for the tv.com reviewers. It took me a lot of hours to watch the episodes and write this review. And being a non native English writer cannot explain all of it.
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