On DVD in a fantastic box set from MHz Networks is one of the most popular television series, and my personal favorite, BORGEN.
Season One introduces us to Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), the leader of the Moderate Party who rises to the position of Prime Minister by underhanded political dealings. She learns quickly that a new time still hasn’t shed old traditions.
Now her world changes becoming country’s leader and having to rely on husband Phillip (Mikael Birkkjaer) to take more responsibility with their children Magnus (Emil Poulsen) and teenage daughter Laura (Freja Riemann). As a professor, the pressures cause him to make decisions I think a more secure man might think twice about.
Watching her every move is TV1 and reporter Katrine Fonsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen), a young woman who has secrets of her own and has no problem finding out secrets of others. The studios editor Torben Friis (Soren Malling) has to keep the stories coming out of the parliament straight, even when they are twisted. One of those doing the twisting is former Prime Minister Michael Laugesen (Peter Mygind) who is out to bring it all down.
Prime Minister Nyborg, with the help of her spin-doctor Kasper Juul (Johan Philip Asbaek), she must navigate a political life that is filled with dealmakers, old ideals and open democracy – and keep her family together.
Season Two jumps right in as PM Brigitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is trying to have a career and family. Divorced from ex-husband Philip (Mikael Birkkjaer) they sharing the responsibilities of caring for daughter Laura (Freja Riemann) and Magnus (Emil Poulsen).
Still hoping that there is something between them, Nyborg is struck with the news that Philip has a girlfriend and wants her to meet their children. Knowing she must move on she dives deeper into her work.
She visits Afghanistan as Denmark is deciding if downsizing their contribution in that country is warranted. Visiting the camp, along with journalist Katrine Fonsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen), the trip turns deadly as soldiers are killed. Now, Nyborg must return to her country and is embroiled in bitter debates on how best to make sense of the soldiers lost and still do what’s best for everyone concerned.
When Katrine returns and realizes she doesn’t want to write trashy stories for THE EXPRESS, the tries her hand at being a spin doctor for one of the cabinet members. When that doesn’t work out she returns to her roots at TV1 and rekindles a relationship with Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbaek), the Prime Ministers media advisor and spin-doctor.
When Nyborg decides to take on bringing peace between two African countries, her daughter Laura becomes ill and the two collide as tensions for peace means thousands of lives saved.
This season seats change, positions are made clear and lines are drawn as the Prime Minister refuses to be sacrifice what is right in trade for what another party may want in exchange for votes.
Season Three, which is sadly the final season of BORGEN, Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), has ended her position as Prime Minister of Denmark. Coming in two years later so much in Nyborg’s life has drastically changed.
Now traveling as a speaker, the former PM Nyborg travels much of the time. The relationships with husband Michael is in a good place and her children Laura (Freja Riemann) and Magnus (Emil Poulsen) have adjusted.
Finally, a little personal happiness has come into her life as British architect Jeremy Welsh makes his feelings known. With all of this one would think it would be enough, but not for Nyborg as she begins to feel the pangs of politics.
Approaching Kruse, the leader of the Moderate party, to come back she is quickly rebuffed. Hearing what the new ideals of the party are she comes to terms with the face that she no longer supports what the Moderates are doing.
Only Birgitte Nyborg could shake things up when she puts together a new party to challenge the status quo. Hiring television reporter Katrine Fonsmark (Birgitte Sorensen), the New Democrats come together with members of other parties including Bent Sejro (Lars Knutzon) and take on issues that will get them into parliament.
With the media watching along with Torben Friis (Sorn Malling) of TV1, Hanne Holm (Benedikte Hansen) and Simon Bech (Anders Juul), even Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbaek) can’t help throwing in his experience with Nyborg.
Nothing is off limits as the new party takes on pork farmers, in-house spies, communism and sex workers with a Season 3 finale that only BORGEN can provide!
FINAL WORD: Knudsen is the spot on choice for taking this role. From the moment she enters the story it is clear what kind of woman she is – and that doesn’t always help her cause. She is so relatable with her issues of home life, marriage, kids and charmingly enough, her weight.
Her character is solid, and sincerely focused on wanting the best for her country and, at the same time, trying to progress along with it. It is the old guard still in place that from the moment she takes office, make it their duty to stir up trouble and cast her in a bad light. From underhanded dealings to secrets built in the system, Nyborg is never caught off guard long and her family pays the price.
Knudsen is born to play this role and that’s the absolutely true! She has a commanding presence as the Prime Minister and keeps her emotions in check constantly (which also must be exhausting). When she does finally release emotion it’s with a righteous anger knowing that there may be no answers to her questions.
Her intensity just seeps through the screen and into the viewer, which always made me wonder what she would do next. Managing to surprise me in quite a few episodes is what makes a good character along with a good storyline and Knudsen envelopes them both. There are so many places this character can go and I, for one, will be waiting on pins and needles for what is to in Season Three!
Knudsen is the center of this series and riveting to watch. In the final season Knudsen’s character takes so many risks that I almost felt like I was being intrusive. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role and trust me when I say no one else could. This is a female character who is intelligent, emotional, rational, realistic and, most importantly, a feeling human being. Knudsen seems to have a grasp on all of those delivering episode after episode and viewers are thrilled.
Birkkjaer as husband Philip loves his marriage and his family but, as with most partnerships where one is more successful, problems arise. The tear between being a regular husband and the husband of the first female Prime Minister doesn’t come with a prep list.
Sorensen as Katrine the ambitious reporter is a serious duality. On one hand she has no problem pointing out the secrets and lies of others but doesn’t seem to be able to do the same for her own life. Sorensen grabs this role and takes viewers on a ride that is unpredictable at times. Sorensen goes through a lot of transformations as well. She seems more dedicated in her journalistic skin refusing to throw mud at anyone for any reason.
Sorensen really breaks out the third season. At the end of Season Two, this character was attempting to have a relationship and life with Kasper Juul. Wanting children was a big issue with this couple and in the final season, Fonsmark gets her wish. Of course immediately it can be said ‘be careful what you wish for’ and that comes into play repeatedly. Sorensen plays every aspect of a new mother, jilted lover and working woman with such believability it’s crazy!
Where Katrine is, Asbaek as Kasper is not far behind. This character is truly amazing filled with issues begging for a psychiatrist’s sofa and oodles of time. Yet, at the same time, Asbaek plays this character with skill, grace and a hint of humor. As Kasper he has a chance to reveal more about this character. Season one dropped breadcrumbs for the audience as to what made this spin-doctor tick. Audiences are going to be shocked at secrets that had to surface now in order for this character to grow. He’s still quick on his feet, quick in mind and a little outspoken but that’s why I like him!
There are such intense characters in this series that to name them all would require a book, but then again I want viewers to unravel these characters and events themselves.
MHz Networks is bringing the best of world programming to American viewers. BORGEN is just one of many programs they have to offer with more including SPIRAL, THE YOUNG MONTALBANO, BECK and ANNO 1790 plus more! MHz networks have stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. MHz can also be found on iOS, Android, Google TV, VOD and the MHz Home Entertainment with more at www.mhznetworks.org.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give BORGEN an amazing four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Sometimes not knowing what to expect is a good thing and such is the case for BORGEN. The show is slow and deliberate and each step it takes are stories that are full with anticipation and outcome.
Knudsen captured me instantly with her strong nature even when that was the last thing she wanted to be. Taking on the problems of a country and the people within her own government, her solutions had me applauding. The issues of family life are so true-to-life that it draws the viewer deeper into the story.
Every character in BORGEN has a purpose and a mission that causes clashes as each follow their own agenda. From the storyline of Greenland to making sure women have a place in Danish government, none of the important issues BORGEN addresses are to far from home for American viewers.
The relationship between the government and the media is also an interesting one. Bringing these two stories together offered surprises, twists, understanding and even, dare I say, compassion. Knudsen’s character as Prime Minister knows the dangers of tackling all of these issues yet is stead fast and will surprise a new audience with this amazing series.
This is what television should be – intelligent, riveting, though provoking, stellar in its presentation, open, and sometimes controversial. From week to week politicians come and go whether by design, disaster or self-decision but never, ever count them out. There is mystery, cover-ups, and serious political douchbaggery of all kind in BORGEN.
With that said there is no way to NOT have an opinion on each character and it will be rooted deep! For instance, I think the Prime Ministers husband is a total wuss for not standing behind his wife, I think Hanne Holm should be editor of THE EXPRESS and get rid of that total rag-writing sore loser Laugesen, Bent Sejro needs to get back in the game. On a personal note – Kasper and Katrine need to get that house they keep looking at and get out of that box of an apartment, just saying.
This is what the series has done to me! I love each character for their own uniqueness and am always surprised in the director each episode takes. From family, to politics, to country BORGEN reaches out to touch it all.
Can you tell I’m a ridiculously a huge fan? There are reasons for this. First and foremost, this series has a brilliant storyline that never gets tired taking on very serious issues and not letting anything slide in the resolution.
Second, the cast is stellar – period. Every character in this series has a purpose for being there and no situation is wasted. Led by the marvelous Knudsen whose own story line in Season Three is very close to home for many women, it does so without dripping with platitudes.
Instead, once again, the writers and Knudsen put together a woman who is completely realistic which is why, to my way of thinking, the series is relevant. This actress portrays a character that is strong, rational when needed and irrational with reason, she is loving – not only of her family but also of her country – she is smart and thorough giving those around her the same chance to succeed.
Supported by Sorensen as Fonsmark, she is another woman who is going through drastic changes. Realizing that motherhood isn’t just answering the biological clock, she comes to terms with her biggest fears, loss of love and finding a happy medium for it all.
Season Three is definitely woman oriented but not overly so. I did miss having Kasper behind the political curtain but giving Sorenson a chance to step forward I was hoping beyond hope there could be a Season Four that will put them head-to-head as equal spin-doctors. A girl can dream can’t she?
BORGEN actually means ‘the castle’ referring to Christiansborg Palace which is where Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court are located. Written and produced by Adam Price, he is also responsible for the original Danish hit series THE KILLING.
Television has re-awakened audiences to new and innovative shows that go far beyond what watchers have ever known. This series is from the producers of THE KILLING and has also won awards from BAFTA for Best International Television series of 2012.
For the complete series go to http://shop.mhznetworks.org and you will also be able to browse the other series MHz has to offer.
In the end – BORGEN is everything and more in television programming!