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This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

Run by the players, we hope to achieve great things.

Where our journey takes us, who knows.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Life after checkmate (Grand Review, 'Borgen' Season 3)

This is the third and final review I'll be doing for Borgen; the series was ended by DR after this run as the network doesn't like to run ideas into the ground.
Which means we sadly won't be getting any more of a wonderful political series.
(mild spoilers follow)

At the end of Season 2, Birgitte Nyborg called a general election, while spin-doctor Kasper Juul and TV journalist Katrine Fønsmark decided to have a baby together. Things, we soon learn, did not exactly go to plan - for one thing, the former lost and the latter two broke up.
Two and a half years later, ex-PM Nyborg (out of the Folktinge, plus no longer party leader) is now a highly paid business speaker with handsome English boyfriend and Kasper Juul is now a media pundit at TV1... while his ex-partner Katrine is having to juggle her job with being a single mother. Then a controversial new immigration bill from the Liberal government of returned PM Lars Hesselboe changes things for two of them, especially when Nyborg's Moderates back it.
Birgitte returns to Denmark where she tries a leadership challenge, recruiting Katrine as her spin doctor (an interesting role reversal)... which fails. So, Birgitte Nyborg decides to set up her own party and the New Democrats begin their attempt to change Denmark for the better from a ramschackle office (which once had a Nazi collaborator for an owner), but something is wrong with our politician...

We get an updated title sequence here to reflect the changes of the characters - it's one of the best things about the show.

Birgitte's family doesn't play as big a role here as in Season 2, although it does remain a crucial one. Her ex-husband and her get along (which is more than can be said for many divorced couples), while her daughter appears to have resolved her mental issues. Jeremy, a new character arguably added for the show's UK audience is enjoyable and has some great lines, but to be honest, he wasn't really needed. Nyborg's health issues are sensitively and well portrayed by Knudsen; she experiences something that many people have gone through, personally or through relatives having it - it mostly feels convincing, bar a final bit about it.

As for her party, the New Democrats, they do seem to be a bit wishy-washy in their policy, trying to occupy the centre ground when in reality it tends to get you shot at from both sides. They seem to chop and change their policy pretty quickly (the episode on prostitution, while very thought-provoking is no doubt an example of this). While there are an number of great characters in there (Bent, Nete, Jon) one doesn't help feeling that this party is getting its popularity from being the Birgitte Nyborg party that isn't the "Right Moderates" and a crash is looming for them. Perhaps.
TV1 provides us with another interesting take on the principles versus popularity issue; some of the funniest moments in this run involve that station and Hjort's quest for ratings, although TV 2's handball game really takes the cake... I thought they were joking when it was first mentioned. Torben's affair and the ramifications of that is also well handled. Do Danish party leaders really have that many television discussions?
The overall plot and storylines are very good, even if the rise (well, relative rise) of the New Democrats isn't entirely convincing... but then again, sometimes elections do turn on single events, the 2010 UK one being a notable case. The prostitution episode as mentioned got me thinking my own views on the issue and the episode on pig farming was great for humour, albeit with a sad twist at the end. The Kasper-Katrine relationship was again well done; kudos for not taking an obvious solution, as this isn't a rom-com.
The final four episodes deal with a snap election called by Hesselboe and the New Democrats eventually playing a major role. The final 30 minutes twist and turn, with Birgitte facing a tough decision. Her choice was probably the best one for Denmark and I say this as someone who would vote for the Social Democrats (the RL equivalent of Borgen's Labour Party).

An excellent third run of a series with strong storylines and a lot packed into its ten episodes. It's a shame it ended, but it had run its course - reviews in Denmark were not as positive for this as the previous run and dragging this out for a fourth go might have been too much for it... like a certain show I'll be reviewing.
Tak, Birgitte. You'll be missed.


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