Judge P.S. Colbert wanted to name check the guest appearance by Don Swayze (Patrick's brother), but he ran out of space.
"Something like this has many layers."
All thirteen episodes of The Bridge: The Complete First Season now seems almost a blur; they flew by me so fast. Such was the addictive fury that grabbed me and held on tight from the moment I first pressed "play."
It's past midnight on the Bridge of the Americas that connects El Paso, Texas to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. A short, sudden blackout—which scrambles all surveillance equipment—gives the anonymous driver of an unidentifiable car enough time to drop a body onto the middle of the bridge before departing (undetected) amidst the ensuing confusion.
Homicide detectives from both sides are called in to investigate: El Paso P.D.'s Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds), and Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir, Savages), of the Chihuahua State Police.
Naturally, a pecking order (or chain of command) must be established. Cross insists that the U.S. has priority—the body is that of Lorraine Gates, an American judge, and the car that delivered her came in from the El Paso side. Ruiz shrugs and acquiesces, saying: "I don't need your body. Just this morning, I got nine heads in the parking lot of City Hall." Having ceded authority to his American counterpart, he happily announces his intention to head back off into dreamland.
Whilst loading the corpse onto a stretcher, a grisly discovery is made: this is not one, but two bodies fitted together. What's more, the coroner will establish that the lower extremities belong to one of the altogether too many disappeared young women of Juarez.
Hence the pecking order must now be reestablished—as a co-operative—giving Cross and Ruiz a chance to get better acquainted. How convenient, right?
If you're expecting to see a Pushmi-pullyu relationship between temperamental opposites progress in fits-and-starts from grudging admiration to full-on, co-dependent partnership, you won't be disappointed. There's also plenty of the gratuitous violence, aberrant sexuality, and pitch-black darkness (in the sky and of the soul) that are nowadays standard features of made-for-cable weeklies.
But what the neophyte series (actually based on a Scandinavian series) lacks in terms of originality, it more than makes up for by virtue of top-flight writing, direction, and production value. A frequent complaint among critics is the outsize supporting cast, but to be fair, it includes no non-essential personnel, and the performances are pitch-perfect from the top on down. What's more, here we have a multi-jurisdictional, bi-lingual saga—featuring plenty of rudimentary French, if you get my meaning-that never gets lost or tangled up in itself while simultaneously weaving several narrative threads.
The Bridge: The Complete First Season gets an eye-pleasing DVD transfer in 1.78 anamorphic widescreen with a sharp Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound design accompanying. The show is out-fitted with English subtitles for the Spanish dialogue, and has additional subtitle options in French, Spanish, and English SDH. Extras include audio commentary for the pilot episode, deleted scenes, and a worthy pair of featurettes: "Building the Bridge," and "Ciudad Juarez: The Other Side of the Bridge."
Just about everyone I know currently complains about having too many serialized television shows to manage, and not enough time in the day. This one's worth every minute.
Not guilty on either side of the checkpoint, Charlie.
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