The crime procedural is such a complex beast and in all its various forms we as audiences just lap them up at every turn. Based on a Danish/Swedish drama of the same name, "The Bridge: The Complete First Season" is an intense procedural set on the border in one of the more dangerous places in the free world.
When a murder victim is discovered on the bridge connecting El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, detective Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and her Mexican counterpart Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) have to work together in order to catch a serial killer that is terrorizing both sides of the border. While initially clashing, they start making progress as the investigation will uncover some shocking secrets and non-stop danger that neither of them could have possibly imagined.
From the original series "Bron", "The Bridge" works quite well being moved to the Mexican border and it makes for an intense and gripping thriller as passions rage and politics and violence get very complicated on both sides of the border.
Translating this story to North American audiences was a smart move as it fits like such a glove that it feels as if it had never aired anywhere else in any other incarnation. It's the kind of crime drama that simply wouldn't work on a major network, and on FX they get to push the boundaries and explore the social issues of immigration just a little bit in some interesting ways, as each episode plays out like the chapter of a book that you just can't put down. It's shot exceptionally well and it maintains a strong sense of continuity as show runner Elwood Reid had a hand in writing most of the episodes and the sense of menace is maintained every step of the way. It's not all perfect, but it is a drama that gets sold by some top tier performances from all involved that in some cases were actually quite surprising.
Demian Bichir is an Oscar nominated actor who immediately gives credibility to the show and his Detective Marco Ruiz is electric as a good cop trying to stay that way in a world where corruption is not only common place but it is actively encouraged and it is fun to watch him try and determine the line between good and evil that is always a moving target. Diane Kruger on the other side of the coin isn't exactly a slam dunk as a socially awkward and abrupt Texas homicide detective but she gets the job done and can carry her weight working side by side with Bichir. Matthew Lillard was surprisingly good as the slimy local reporter and the underrated Ted Levine as the local police captain was his usual steady self.
Special features on this 4 disc set are two behind the scenes featurettes, deleted scenes and a commentary track on the pilot episode.
At the end of the day, "The Bridge: The Complete First Season" is yet another example of the embarrassment of programming riches that is available to TV viewers everywhere, the old adage of there being 57 channels and nothing on has gone out the window a long time ago as there are now 570 channels and you just need to know where to look.
4 out of 5 stars.
"The Bridge: The Complete First Season" is now available on DVD from all major retailers.