‘The Bridge’ premieres a solid mystery thriller with stellar leads

Posted: July 11, 2013 in Television

FX’s reputation for bringing new edgy dramas to broadcast cable television took another step forward last night with the premiere of their latest offering, the multi-lingual drama The Bridge.

Starring Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger as two detectives on opposite sides of the Texas border investigating a murder that will force the polar opposite personalities to work together.   The premiere last night  showcased a new direction for FX as the show features both dialogue in English as well as Spanish and, as far as I can recall, features two Oscar nominated actors in the prime of their careers teaming up for a broadcast television show.

The show takes place in the Texas town of El Paso and across the Mexican border in Juarez, where an amped up detective, Sonya Cross (Kruger) – who has Aspergers (but that hasn’t been revealed), is forced to work with an easy-going Chihuahua State Police detective Marco Ruiz (Bichir), who is feeling the pressure to sweep the crossed-border murder under the rug by the corrupt Mexican powers that be.   The show features a villain, Thomas M. Wright, who we really haven’t met yet (he’s fantastic in another mini-series that recently ended on the Sundance Channel in Top of the Lake) as well as guest starring Matthew Lillard as a unlikeable El Paso newspaper reporter who seems to have attracted the attention of the Mexican cartel.

The premiere episode for The Bridge was a little slower than I might have liked, and didn’t really delve into any of the characters too much, however the writers did establish a tone for the show that will likely carry it the entire season.  It’s a tone of grim despair that will transport the characters across both sides of the border.  I would have liked to have seen more chemistry in the initial episode between Bichir and Kruger but with Kruger’s character having an undisclosed condition (Aspergers) I can see why there wasn’t much interaction between the two.

With the writers choosing not to disclose why Sonya Cross acts the way she does, you’re forced to just go along with it.  And while some may chalk up Cross’ character as shoddy acting by Kruger (movie watchers know better), you can tell that there’s something odd about her and we’re not privy to what it is yet.  Everyone else on the show seems to know and accept Cross’ limitations and when her boss, played by the excellent Ted Levine, tells Cross he’s probably going to retire very soon you can see Cross squirm at the thought of not having someone who knows her limitations as her boss.   Cross’ behavioral limitations work here while the viewer is left questioning why exactly she acts the way she does mainly because Ruiz is wondering the exactly same thing.  We’re forced to learn Kruger’s character along with other characters on the show.  It’s an interesting plot ploy but I believe it will work out in the long run.  The one thing I do worry about though is how Ruiz will adapt to working with Cross once he learns that she has a behavioral disorder.

All in all The Bridge’s premiere was a safe – if not underwhelming – debut that leaves the viewer wanting more with the right amount of thrills to keep you content for one more week.  Here’s hoping the pace picks up.

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