Netflix review: ‘River’

I meant to review a book tonight, but then I’d need to link to Amazon. And Amazon appears to be a victim of its own success, crushed under the weight of Cyber Monday business. So I’ll talk about a Netflix series I watched.

River is a British series which mixes English police procedural with Scandinavian depression porn, along with a strong dose of the metaphysical. Over the years we’ve seen neurotic detectives, addicted detectives, disabled detectives, etc., etc. Now we have a delusional detective.

John River (Stellan Skarsgård) is a London police detective, a Swedish immigrant (which is odd, because River isn’t a Swedish name). He is tormented, not only by his persistent delusion that he sees and converses with dead people (he knows it’s a delusion because he doesn’t believe in life after death) but by the recent death of his partner, “Stevie” Stevenson (Nicola Walker). She was killed by a drive-by shooter, right in front of him.

River, because of his delusions, often asks in bizarre ways. This makes his colleagues wary of him and makes him insecure. He’s supposed to be seeing a counselor, but resists opening up to her. He is constantly in conflict with his superiors and skates on the edge of losing his job.

The series wasn’t bad, but in spite of its unusual qualities I found it kind of predictable. I asked myself, “Who would you guess, of all these characters, the writers hate most?” I selected one, and figured that person would be the killer, and I was essentially right.

An interesting series. Pretty grim. It provides the unusual spectacle (for television) of a romance between two characters who aren’t particularly attractive. I neither loved nor hated it.

4 thoughts on “Netflix review: ‘River’”

  1. Have you tried Hinterland (“Y Gwyll”)? We’ve watched only the first episode. I’m not sure if they’re shooting for depression porn or not. We really enjoyed Broadchurch and were hoping for the same type of story.

  2. We watched a middle episode today, and I don’t understand how someone could be stabbed in a very public place with any noticing anything or the police immediately looking for the perp. Biggest plot hole or contrivance I’ve seen yet. It’s still engaging though.

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