Inspired by the four-time Oscar®-winning film The Departed, the International Emmy®-nominated Bulgarian crime thriller Undercover is now streaming in the US and UK.
With distribution in 186 territories across the globe, its first three seasons being shortlisted for the Drama category at the International Emmy® Awards, and its fourth season receiving a much-deserved nomination at the prestigious award’s 43rd annual edition, Undercover (Pod prikritie) is the first Bulgarian television drama available for streaming on both sides of the pond.
And it’s awesome.
The series revolves around Martin Hristov (Ivaylo Zahariev, No. 1), who since his youth in Sofia had been groomed to be an undercover cop by Inspector Emil Popov (Vladimir Penev, Fourth Estate).
Popov had been well aware of Martin’s father, a small-time crook who used his young son as a pawn in his schemes. In his own way Popov became a surrogate parent (and pawn master) of sorts to Martin, aka Cheat (a nickname Martin has always hated), as the boy grew up in a correctional facility and then a school devoted to sports, where the teen excelled in boxing — a talent that would come in very handy later.
Once on the police force, Martin began his undercover work in earnest by serving a stint in prison and learning to become invisible while training in France, a country that plays a part in his new identity for his one and only assignment: to infiltrate the criminal organization of Petyr “Djaro” Tudjarov (Mihail Bilalov, Liaisons) — a former cop and Bulgaria’s top mobster — “the only mafia boss over 50 still alive.”
Although Djaro is at the top of the crime world’s food chain, it’s his “crazy” right-hand man, Ivo (Zachary Baharov, The Bureau), who actually manages the operation. Those doing the dirty work include Tisho (Kiril Efremov, Assassin’s Bullet) and Niki (Vencislav Yankov, Bar Tricks), aka “the Twins,” and “the Hair” (Alexander Sano, Le dernier seigneur des Balkans), whose life Martin saved in prison.
In the present day, Martin also saves, and then falls for, a damsel in distress. If only he knew then what he finds out later about Sunny (Irena Miliankova, Father Rupert Mayer): that she “belongs to” Djaro. (Talk about “it’s complicated”!)
Using a tip-off from Popov, Martin finally has a make-or-break opportunity to get inside Djaro’s organization. A drug deal is in actuality a set-up, and Ivo and his men will be fresh corpses if Martin can’t convince the Hair that this isn’t just a rumor and they arrive at the exchange site too late.
Fast forward: Martin is severely tested before Ivo hires him as a henchman and allows him into the inner Djaro circle.
Produced by Bulgarian National Television, Undercover was the most-watched series on the company’s BNT 1 channel and became the country’s first veritable international TV hit, with its gritty and violent storylines that depict the reality of Bulgaria’s criminal underworld — from gang wars and drug trafficking, to corruption on both sides of the law.
If riveting crime dramas with intriguing characters and heart-pumping action are your thing, you should definitely check it out.
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