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Last year was a banner one for Euro TV programs in the UK and US, with the return of several international hits and the premieres of many brand new shows that rocked.

Favorite Euro TV Shows in the UK & US in 2015

Euro TV is continuing to grow on both sides of the Atlantic, and that, mes amis, is a good thing for us fans of foreign-language programs. By my count, the Euro TV series that premiered in or returned to the UK and US in 2015 numbered more than 70, with 90 new seasons between them.

In the UK, 17 Euro TV titles debuted as brand new shows or ones with new seasons, while in the US the number was 70. Of them, 1992, Crowns & Jewels, The Returned: Series 2, Second Chance, Spiral: Series 5, Suite Noire, and Witnesses premiered on both sides of the pond, while a few Russian dramas called two US streaming services home. Of the programmers, those that screened the most new shows/seasons were BBC Four (6) in the UK and MHz Networks (27 via its terrestrial network and MHz Choice SVoD service) in the US.

Last year also saw two new entrants in the Euro TV space: the UK’s ITV, which screened the hit Swedish mystery Jordskott on its ITV E channel, and the US’ Acorn TV, which premiered Finnish drama Easy Living and Romanian drama Umbre.

This year the biggest news in Euro TV is the launch of Walter Presents, the new, free, 24/7 streaming service specifically for foreign-language dramas (and comedies) in the UK. Britain-based viewers will be able to get their Euro TV and other international TV on when Walter Presents goes live tomorrow, Sunday, 3 January 2016.

Until then, here are the 15 shows that made my list of favorite Euro TV shows in 2015:

Beck: Episodes 26-30 (Sweden)

Beck Episodes 26-30Beck is as good as it’s ever been with these five episodes, the final ones with Mikael Persbrandt costarring as Gunvald Larsson alongside Peter Haber’s Martin Beck. (My review of the DVD is here.) As always, what keeps one glued to the screen are the well-plotted crime stories and the dynamics between characters old and new (some quirkier than others). Of the new series regulars, Gunilla Urst (Anu Sinisalo, Easy Living) is my favorite, as her overtures make Beck squirm and realize his deep loneliness. And my favorite scene: the devastatingly bittersweet one between Gunvald and Martin that closes Series 5.

Watch now: Amazon UK, iTunes UK
Premiering soon: MHz Choice (not yet confirmed)

The Bridge: Series 3 (Bron/Broen) (Sweden/Denmark)

The Bridge Series 3 (Bron/Broen)O.M.G. Series 3 of The Bridge is so brilliant, it rivals Series 1 and 2 in storytelling, and the casting of Thure Lindhardt (The Borigias) as Danish cop Henrik Sabroe is perfect. His relationship with Sofia Helin’s Saga Norén expands on the one she had with Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia), and the new pair are one of the best detective duos ever. Story-wise, Saga has so much to deal with — from a serial killer on the loose, her estranged mum back in her life, and a new boss at the office, to the loss of a friend and a life-shattering accusation — it’s no wonder her usual stoicism is shattered and she falls apart. Bring on Series 4!

Watch now: Amazon UK, iTunes UK
Premiering soon: Hulu (not yet confirmed)

Camilla Läckberg’s The Fjällbacka Murders: Season 1 (Fjällbackamorden) (Sweden)

Camilla Läckberg's The Fjällbacka MurdersAdapted from the “Fjällbacka” series of crime novels by Swedish author Camilla Läckberg, the six films in Season 1 are a treat for Nordic noir fans. They revolve around murders that occur in and around the eponymous seaside village, the childhood home of crime novelist Erica Falck (Claudia Galli, Verdict: Revised), who investigates them (unofficially) with policeman husband Patrik Hedström (Richard Ulfsäter, Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter). Dark and moody, with enough red herrings to keep you guessing, the stories give you such a sense of place, you’ll feel like a local.

Watch now: MHz Choice
Premiering soon: No announcements yet re: Season 1 in the UK, stay tuned.

Cordon (Belgium)

CordonAnother omg awesome series is this paranoid-inducing thriller. One person in Antwerp, then another, and another, dies from a new and fatal contagion. To prevent its spread within and beyond the port city’s borders, the government orders a lock-down of the area where the victims took their last, tortured breaths. No one gets in or out until a vaccine is found. Except people do. It ain’t pretty. Amidst the chaos, one journalist is hellbent on exposing the truth, while two policemen try to remain composed, maintain order on both sides of the cordon, and stay alive. Cordon is a taut drama whose ending is enraging.

Watch now: Not available at this time
Premiering soon: No announcements yet re: Series 1 in the US, stay tuned

Crowns & Jewels (The Netherlands)

Crowns & JewelsTwo miniseries make up this delicious, guilty pleasure of a series about the Netherlands’ House of Orange. Bernhard, Scoundrel of Orange centers on the life of playboy German Prince Bernhard, who marries into the Dutch royal family, and Beatrix, Orange Under Fire follows the Crown Princess, who went on to reign as Queen for more than 30 years. If you think royals live privileged, perk-filled lives, they do, but this intriguing series gives you a fly-on-the-wall look at how much is at stake in how they conduct themselves, raise children, do business, etc. It’s fascinating and well worth a watch.

Watch now: Eurochannel at Dailymotion
Premiering soon: N/A

Dag: Series 1 (Norway)

Dag Series 1This award-winning dark comedy is hilarious, thought-provoking, and touching. It stars Atle Antonsen (In Order of Disappearance) as Dag Refsnes, a loner, misanthrope, and creature of habit whose work as a marriage counselor includes espousing the single life to his clients. But he’ll still go on the blind dates his sister sets up for him, only he won’t let any of the women (or sexaholic best friend) inside his flat. Until Eva (Tuva Novotny, Crimes of Passion), blind date #19. Brilliant dialogue, quirky characters (played by a who’s who of Nordic TV), and creative interstitials make Dag a must-see series of any year.

Watch now: Not available at this time
Premiering soon: No announcements yet re: Series 1 in the US, stay tuned

Deutschland 83 (Germany)

Deutschland 83Set against the backdrop of real events in the ’80s, this multiple award-winning spy thriller — the first one produced by and shown on a US network — follows young East German soldier Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay, Tatort), as he goes undercover for the Stasi foreign service as Moritz Stamm, a West German Army aide-de-camp. His mission: gather information about NATO’s military plans. His life becomes a series of will-he-or-won’t-he-be-caught moments, while the threat of a nuclear strike looms ever larger. The intensity grows with each episode, tempered only by the soundtrack’s awesome tunes. “99 Luftballons,” anyone?

Watch now: Amazon US, iTunes US
Premiering soon: Walter Presents

Dicte: Season 2 (Denmark)

DicteDenmark’s version of Annika Bengtzon is Dicte Svendsen (Iben Hjejle, Dag), a crime reporter and amateur sleuth who can’t help but involve herself in Inspector John Wagner’s (Lars Brygmann, Unit One) investigations. In Season 2, the two have settled into a more or less comfy professional groove, while her relationship with beau Bo (Dar Salim, Borgen) is starting to show cracks. That Dicte‘s crime stories are devices to further the development of characters and their relationships, and lead characters are likable and intriguing, are the two biggest reasons why I adore this series. Bring on Season 3!

Watch now: Netflix US
Premiering soon: Walter Presents

A French Village: Seasons 1 & 2 (Un village français) (France)

A Frech Village Season 1This award-winning period drama, a favorite of critics and viewers alike, centers on the four-year German occupation of a (fictional) French village during World War II, shown from the perspective of its citizens. Starting with the Germans’ arrival in Villeneuve on 12 June 1940, we watch (helplessly) as adults and children are shot, homes and schools are co-opted, and refugees pour in. Many citizens adapt to the situation, while others join the resistance or collaborate with their subjugators. Featuring an amazing ensemble cast, this series is historical drama at its finest, a must-watch for its brilliant, human storytelling.

Watch now: MHz Choice
Premiering soon: Walter Presents

Jordskott (Sweden)

JordskottWith monsters, spooky goings-on, a fog-shrouded everything, and good pie, Jordskott is Sweden’s answer to Twin Peaks. The myths-filled story centers on Inspector Eva Thõrnblad (Moa Gammel, Irene Huss), whose return to Silverhöjd involves more than probate for her late father’s estate, namely the investigation into the disappearance of several children, including her presumed-dead daughter. Then there’s the creepy waif who escaped from the evil forest, whom Eva insists is her Josefine. Jordskott is no ordinary Nordic noir drama but a mystery with a message. Stay tuned for details about if Series 2 will happen.

Watch now: iTunes UK
Premiering soon: No announcements yet re: Series 1 in the US, stay tuned.

The Legacy: Season 1 & Series 2 (Arvingerne) (Denmark)

The LegacyFamilies can be downright ugly when it comes to inheritances, and Season 1 of this multiple award-winning drama shows just how nasty people can get, especially when a love child is involved. The dysfunction continues in Season 2, as other family members are introduced and the Grønnegaard clan has pressing issues to attend to, such as one being imprisoned in a foreign country and another having a nervous breakdown. (What will they get up to in Season 3?) Nordic noir dramas may be the draw for many Euro TV fans, but family dramas like The Legacy prove that great Scandinavian telly isn’t all about crimes and cops.

Watch now: Series 1: Amazon US, MHz Choice | Series 2: Amazon UK, iTunes UK
Premiering soon: No announcements yet re: Season 2 in the US, stay tuned.

Rita: Seasons 2 and 3 (Denmark)

Rita Season 3Rita Madsen (Mille Dinesen). She’s a wise-cracking, flannel-shirt-wearing, smoking sex magnet of a mum and teacher. If she weren’t so clueless about her personal life, I might idolize her, as she’s smart, funny, caring, brave, and calls ’em like she sees ’em, political correctness be damned. In Season 2 Rita tries to be in a proper adult relationship, but still has a lot of growing up to do, and in Season 3 she is in the throes of empty nest syndrome. All the while, the series tackles social issues, ranging from teen pregnancy and bullies, to politics and socio-economics — all with the series’ trademark wit and zingers. Series 4, please!

Watch now: Netflix UK & US
Premiering soon: N/A

The Saboteurs (aka The Heavy Water War, Kampen om tungtvannet) (Norway)

The SaboteursBased on true events, The Saboteurs (original title: The Heavy Water War) tells the fascinating and gripping story about the UK and Norway’s sabotage of the heavy water required for Germany’s nuclear weapon project during World War II. Starring Espen Klouman Høiner (Mammon) as Norwegian scientist and intelligence officer Leif Tronstad, and Christoph Bach (Tatort) as German theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Werner Heisenberg, the series delivers nail-biting drama and excitement, as it follows young Norwegian men risking their lives to sabotage the one heavy water plant in all of Europe. A must-watch.

Watch now: Amazon UK, iTunes UK
Premiering soon: MHz Choice

Spiral: Series 5 (Engrenages) (France)

Spiral Engrenages Series 5Every season of this superb French crime drama blows me and every fan of the series away, and its fifth season is just as ruthlessly intense and gritty. With the investigation into a double murder as its focus, Series 5’s secondary storylines include a rash of street muggings and bank raids, a case of police corruption, and the work and personal issues amongst les flics and lawyers. The omg moment that floored nearly everyone: the death of a beloved character. This is one heckuva thrilling and disturbing (and heartbreaking) season, so kudos to the cast, crew, and writers. Your fans are now anxiously awaiting Series 6.

Watch now: Amazon UK, iTunes UK, MHz Choice
Premiering soon: N/A

Umbre (Romania)

UmbreYowzah. This character-centric Romanian drama, a remake of the Australian Small Time Gangster, is utterly engrossing. It follows Relu Oncescu (Serban Pavlu, The Japanese Dog), a mostly-absent husband and father whose meager income as a taxi driver is made a livable wage by his side gig as a torpedo, or money-collector for the mob. Neither family knows about the other until Relu has a few collection mishaps and his double life begins to unravel. Then his only life is in mortal danger. The series is riveting from start to finish, with great scripts, superb acting, and action that, even when minimal, is heart-pounding stuff.

Watch now: Acorn TV
Premiering soon: No announcements yet re: Season 1 in the UK, stay tuned

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2016!


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2015 Euro TV Year in Review: Favorite New Shows & Seasons in the UK & US