Sebastian Bergman: Review of Episode 1 (with a little word on Episode 2)

Today I managed to catch up with the first installment of the Swedish crime series Sebastian Bergman, which originally aired last Saturday on BBC4. My expectations were pretty low having viewed a dire trailer made by the German broadcaster ZDF (see my earlier comments here), but happily, ‘The Cursed One’ turned out to be a decently-made, entertaining 90 minutes of crime.

The key investigative figure, Professor Sebastian Bergman, is a renowned Swedish profiler of unpleasant disposition: he’s tetchy, uncooperative, and a serial seducer of vulnerable women. Although we find out the main reason for this behaviour, he remains a troubled and rather unlikable figure, and is nicely portrayed by the actor Rolf Lassgård (well known to Henning Mankell fans as the ‘first’ TV Wallander). 

The opening episode shows Bergman inching back into policework after an extended break, following the brutal murder of a 15-year-old boy. The investigation proceeds at a brisk pace (we work through as many suspects as in the whole of The Killing 1 by the end of the first hour), uncovering a number of suburban secrets on the way. The denouement is reasonably satisfying, although I couldn’t help but be amused at how wide of the mark Bergman’s perpetrator profiling had been. 

In sum: a good start with some potential, should the relationship between Bergman and his police colleagues be allowed to develop more. There’s a nice little twist at the end that augers well.

Update on 8 June: I’ve just caught up with Episode 2, and wasn’t quite as enamoured as many people seem to have been on Twitter. As this blog’s readers will know, I’m not a fan of serial killer narratives / misogynist violence, so points had to be taken off from the word go. In addition, the development of the plot felt wholly predictable… Would I watch more Sebastian Bergman if it came to our screens? Probably, but it won’t be at the top of my list of Saturday night treats.

12 thoughts on “Sebastian Bergman: Review of Episode 1 (with a little word on Episode 2)

  1. Out at CrimeFest last weekend, I have still not seen this one, but plan to by tomorrow night’s final (?) episode – I hope. I don’t watch it live anyway, but I’m fearful of it disappearing too quickly from iplayer!

  2. Pingback: BBC4 lines up a double helping of Swedes for 2012: Sebastian Bergman and The Bridge | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

  3. The main character reminded me of Branagh’s depiction of Wallander, very self centred and bullying. BUT it was an excellent episode,well written and acted, with that unexpected twist at the end. Well worth watching , bring on the Scandinavians. I like the way they are very direct, no prissy politeness like in Lewis.
    Mike Tunnicliffe

    • Thanks for your comment, Mike.

      Yes, Bergman would be a rather abrasive work-colleague! His characterisation reminded me a bit of Fitz in Cracker (played by Robbie Coltrane in the 1990s), though the latter had even more flaws if I remember rightly. The figure of the profiler as maverick seems to work well, as he can convincingly be styled as an insider-outsider figure – working with but not fully integrated into the police team.

  4. I quite fancy watching this and I can see from iplayer that I have 7 days left. It sounds quite interesting and I didn’t see the offputting trailer.

  5. I have recorded this — nothing can get anywhere near Borgen (or Sarah Lund, if not The Killing per se), so my expectations won’t be high. Do you know how many episodes there are altogether, it doesn’t say in my TV guide?

    • Hi Maxine – I *think* I am right in saying that there are just two 90-minute episodes entitled The Cursed One Part 1 and Part 2, with the second airing tonight. Will come back to you with further info if there are more.

      • Thanks, that’t great. We can start watching after tonight, then. (Have trouble remembering the plot if I have to wait a week between eps!).

  6. Hi i am a bit late coming into this one, but just wanted to express my views. I did not like this one at all, i think the character put me off, he is such an old lecher ! Does any body know what is replacing Spiral 2 on sat nights yet ? Just finished all of my Spiral series 1 to 3 dvd’s now feeling a bit lost, would recommend them all.

  7. Pingback: Book review: Sebastian Bergman by Hjorth Rosenfeldt | Petrona

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