I’ve lauded The Bridge many times over the last few years. It has been one of my most anticipated series and one that has been much copied since its launch. The American version, frankly, was awful for many reasons… most of them owing to the sensibilities brought to it and losing what made the original great. Until now, I hadn’t had the chance to see the British adaptation. From the top, despite the heavy reliance on the original’s plot, it forges its own path and characters. It feels like you’re watching a wholly new show, even though it is following most of the same path.
Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones) make a great pair of detectives. Each takes the original inspiration and remolds it for themselves and for the new story. But the tension between the two remains intact nicely.
In some ways this series is a bit more satisfying and realistic than the original Bridge. It keeps its energy through to the end better and the driving factors and capabilities of the villain are more intense and believable. The Tunnel stands on its own nicely, both as a show and as a sequence. It feels complete at the end of this initial season, enough so that I would be very content to have it as the only season.
Oddly, though, the Tunnel that lends itself to the title is much less a character than the Bridge that figures in its version. Similarly, the culture clash and comparison dissipates more quickly in the British-French version, despite a feeling that they were even further apart than the Swedish-Danish conflicts at the beginning of the original series.
But each series is its own thing with its own characters and both are well done. My preference is still for the original, mostly due to the female lead. Though Poésy does a great job in her own right, hers isn’t nearly as intriguing a character as Saga for me. And, admittedly, I saw The Bridge first, so the shocks and twists of the story were more impactful for me then. With The Tunnel, it felt I was watching a really good cover band at times. Still excellent, but more an echo of the original. If you watch these in the other order, you might well feel that way about The Bridge, but I really can’t judge that from my perspective. Either way, seeing both is worth your investment if you like dark, intense suspense stories.