The Bridge Wednesdays, 10 p.m., FX.
Like AMC’s The Killing, FX’s The Bridge is an adaptation of a Scandinavian series that follows a single murder case over the course of a season. The original version of The Bridge featured a body found on the border between Denmark and Sweden, with detectives from both countries teaming up to track down the killer. In the U.S. remake, the body is on the U.S.-Mexico border, and Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), a homicide detective from El Paso, Texas, joins forces with Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), her Mexican counterpart from the dangerous border town of Juarez, to solve the case. (Yet another version, titled The Tunnel, is in the works in the U.K. and France.)
Also like The Killing, The Bridge is ponderous and slow, with a number of disparate plot threads that take their time in coming together. The murder case at its core turns out to be more lurid and far-fetched than it first appears, and the killer that Cross and Ruiz are tracking ends up sending cryptic messages and constructing elaborate death scenes like he’s Jigsaw from the Saw movies. It’s hard to reconcile that ghoulish villainy with the show’s heavy, serious tone, and the efforts at social commentary are undermined by the inherent silliness of the murder mystery itself.
Bichir is strong as the world-weary cop who disapproves of his department’s institutional corruption but also understands the reasons for it. And the supporting cast is full of dependable actors, including Annabeth Gish, Ted Levine and Catalina Sandino Moreno. Kruger is the weak link, playing a character who’s become all too familiar on crime dramas: the genius cop suffering from mental illness. Like Will Graham on NBC’s Hannibal, Cross appears to suffer from Asperger syndrome, and she has trouble interacting with her colleagues despite her obvious crime-solving acumen. Kruger struggles with the role, and her portrayal of Cross’ mental and emotional tics is distracting and unconvincing. By the end of the three episodes available for review, some of the show’s inconsistencies have started to even out, but there’s still a long way to go.