Beginning in late April, WTTW began presenting the international news, drama, and mystery channel MHz Worldview. If you’re looking for some new European noir and crime shows, it’s the perfect place to go (some Worldview shows such as Miss Fisher and Dr. Blake Mysteries now air on WTTW).
Mondays at 8:00 and 9:00 pm
This six-part Polish show produced by HBO Europe follows a border unit that patrols the mountains between Poland and Ukraine, targeting human traffickers smuggling migrants across the border into the European Union. (The title translates to “The Pack,” referring to the unit, and was aired in England as “The Border.”) When the entire unit except for its captain perishes in a bomb attack, the captain is suspected. Meanwhile, the show addresses Europe’s migrant crisis.
Tuesdays at 8:00 pm
“Der Bestatter” (as it’s called in its native Switzerland) has a slightly morbid premise: when his father dies, a cop quits the police force to take over his family’s funeral business. Given his police training, while he prepares bodies for funeral, he notices details that help him solve murders that stymied his former colleagues. It’s a popular show, entering its sixth season in Europe.
Wednesdays at 8:00 pm
The Swedes seem to have a glut of talented crime novelists whose books beg for adaptation (just think of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with Dragon Tattoo and his other books), and Liza Marklund. Her eleven Annika Bengtzon books focuses on a crime reporter juggling her reportage, investigations, and family. Marklund was and is a trailblazer for women in the Swedish publishing industry, and her success has even led to a cross-cultural collaboration with James Patterson.
Thursdays at 8:00 pm
Rex Strout’s Nero Wolfe is almost as synonymous with “detective” as Hercule Poirot, and he has appeared on screen numerous times since his debut in print in 1934. This series is an eight-episode Italian adaptation of some of Strout’s more than 70 crime stories.
Cenk Batu, Undercover Agent
Fridays at 9:00 pm
The German series Tatort (“Crime Scene”) is Germany’s longest-running TV drama, having been on the air since 1970. Its unique format, in which different local TV stations each film a few episodes in their city, makes it similar in some ways to the CSI franchise, with its focus on different cities. These six episodes focus on Cenk Batu, a Turkish-German detective in Hamburg. When they began airing in Germany in 2008, they were celebrated for having a Turkish lead character. Turks are Germany’s largest minority group, and are typically under-represented in media, often only appearing as criminal characters.
Sundays at 8:00 and 9:00 pm
Worldview has German, Italian, Swedish, Polish, and more European dramas, but The Team spans the continent. Produced by the European Union’s broadcasting unit, it brings together a German, Danish and Belgian detective to solve a spate of murders of young women in Copenhagen, Berlin, and Antwerp. Based on the international police force Europol, the detectives each speak in their native language in their own city, and switch to English when together. Like the Eurovision song competition produced by the same broadcasting unit, its aim is to bring the European Union together through these eight episodes.